Long-Term Complications after Gastric Sleeve Surgery, Risks, and Disadvantages

Long-Term Complications after Gastric Sleeve Surgery, Risks, and Disadvantages

Long-Term Complications after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Long-Term Complications after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve is a bariatric weight loss surgery. The surgery involves removing about 80% of the stomach and leaving just 20% to drastically reduce the amount of food you can eat.

Gastric sleeve is one of the several types of bariatric weight loss surgery. It is a minimally invasive surgery that involves making small incisions on your abdomen.

Most people lose at least 50% of their excess weight within 18 to 24 months following their surgery. Some people even lose as much as 60 to 70% of their excess weight within 18 to 24 months after their surgery.

Just like every other surgical procedure, gastric sleeve carries both minor and severe risks and complications. All potential risks and complications of gastric sleeve will be explained to you by your surgeon before you undergo the procedure. Both the short term and long term complications will be explained.

The common risk of gastric sleeve and any other bariatric surgery include:

The common risk of gastric sleeve and any other bariatric surgery
The common risk of gastric sleeve and any other bariatric surgery

Allergies to anesthesia

Some people have allergies to the anesthesia used during bariatric surgeries. They may be allergic to the substances used in producing the anesthesia. Allergic reactions to anesthesia can be skin rashes, hives, breathing problems, or anaphylaxis. If you have any allergic reactions after undergoing gastric sleeve, immediately inform your doctor.

Acid reflux

Acid reflux is a disease that occurs when stomach acid or bile flows upward from the stomach into the esophagus (food pipe) and irritates the lining of the esophagus. Acid reflux can cause uncomfortable burning in your chest (heartburn). Gastric sleeve can cause acid reflux due to the alterations made in the stomach.

Chronic nausea

A sensation or feeling to vomit is known as nausea. When you always have the feeling to vomit, you likely have nausea. Nausea is a common complication of gastric sleeve and it is due to the uneasiness of the stomach after gastric sleeve.


Vomiting and nausea go side by side. When you are nauseous, you’re likely to vomit. Vomiting is the voluntary or involuntary emptying of the foods or contents in your stomach. It means throwing up voluntarily or involuntarily.

Inability to eat certain foods

After undergoing gastric sleeve, your stomach becomes tender. You won’t be able to eat certain foods anymore, especially during the healing period of the stomach. You will have to make certain changes to the kinds of foods you eat. Doing this may cause you to lack some important nutrients in your body.

Dilation of the esophagus

Dilation of the esophagus means stretching or widening of the esophagus. This is one of the complications that could occur after gastric sleeve surgery.


Infection is another common complication that may occur after gastric sleeve. Infection can be due to the invasion of bacteria, dirt, or virus. When any of these enters into the incision site or the surgical site, the area could get infected. An infection could lead to more problems if it is not timely treated.

Obstruction of stomach

Stomach obstruction or intestinal obstruction occurs when something blocks the small or large intestine. The blockage can be partial or total. When this occurs, digested foods and fluids can’t pass through the stomach to the small or large intestine. This can cause serious problems and you will not be able to pass out stools. Mistakes made by surgeons during the surgery and some other issues inside the stomach may cause stomach obstruction.

Weight gain or failure to lose weight

Some people even after undergoing gastric sleeve don’t lose excess weight. Some people may even gain more weight. The reason for this may be that those people don’t keep a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy low-calorie diets and exercising regularly. There may be other unexplainable reasons for this. Understand that gastric sleeve is more effective when you follow a healthy lifestyle. When you keep eating more fatty and high-calorie foods and you don’t exercise, you may never lose weight and you could even gain more weight.

Other less common complications include:


Hemorrhage is bleeding or loss of blood that may occur both within and outside the body. Hemorrhage can occur at the incision site or at the surgical site. Hemorrhage can lead to serious problems, such as shock if not timely treated.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

This is a blood clot that occurs in a deep vein in your body, usually your leg. The surgery and the recovery process can increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a condition whereby one or more arteries in the lungs become blocked by a blood clot. A pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clot usually caused by deep vein thrombosis.

Irregular heartbeat

Irregular heartbeat is a condition whereby the heart beats irregularly either too fast or too slow. Gastric sleeve can increase the risk of an irregular heartbeat.


This is an infection that occurs in one or both lungs. It causes the air sacs in the lungs to get inflamed. The pain from gastric sleeve can cause you to take shallow breaths which can lead to pneumonia.

Dumping syndrome

Dumping syndrome is a condition that commonly develops after bariatric surgery such as gastric sleeve. It is a condition whereby the stomach empties its contents such as foods and fluids into the first part of your small intestine (duodenum). Dumping syndrome can lead to nausea and dizziness.

Low blood sugar

This is a condition whereby your blood sugar level is lower than normal. Blood sugar is the body’s main source of energy and lack of it can lead to loss of energy.


After undergoing gastric sleeve, you will need to make drastic changes to your diet. You will be eating little amounts of food. This can lead to malnutrition as your body is no longer getting significant amounts of nutrients.


Ulcers are painful sores that occur in the lining of the stomach, esophagus, or small intestine. Lack of food after gastric sleeve can lead to ulcer.


A hernia occurs when an internal organ pushes through the wall of muscle or tissue that holds it in place. Hernia is a rare complication that may occur after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery.

Blood clot

Blood clot is when blood has changed from its liquid to a gel-like or semisolid state.


Gallstones are hardened deposits of bile that forms in the gallbladder. Rapid weight loss increases the risk of gallstones.


Leakages can occur in the surgical site after gastric sleeve.

Perforation of stomach or intestines

During gastric sleeve procedure, the stomach or intestine can get perforated. This can cause more serious complications if not timely amended.


Stricture is known as an abnormal narrowing of a bodily passage.

Vitamin or iron deficiency

Vitamin or iron deficiency is a complication that may occur after having gastric sleeve due to the drastic reduction in the nutrients in the body.

Disadvantages of Gastric sleeve

Disadvantages of Gastric sleeve
Disadvantages of Gastric sleeve
  • Gastric sleeve is not reversible because a larger part of the stomach is completely removed.
  • Gastric sleeve involves incisions and there are scars left on the incision site even when the incisions must have been completely healed
  • It takes a longer time to recover from gastric sleeve. It can take 4 to 6 weeks for you to fully recover after gastric sleeve. You will not be able to continue working during your recovery.
  • Complications that may occur after undergoing gastric sleeve are more severe.
  • Gastric sleeve is more expensive than endoscopic weight loss procedures.

Long-Term Complications after Gastric Sleeve Surgery, Risks, and Disadvantages

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