Gastric Sleeve Problems

Gastric Sleeve Problems

With any major surgery, the risks of any post-op complications can range from minor to severe.

Gastric sleeve surgery is a major surgery that contains a variety of possible health complications.  Because the gastric sleeve is an irreversible surgery, it is a serious surgery for weight loss.  The sleeve gastrectomy allows you to lose about 60% of your excess weight.

Although the surgery has many health benefits, there are many possible health complications to consider.

These complications can lead to short-term and long-term health problems after surgery.  Some of the short term risks include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Negative reaction to anesthesia
  • Bleeding
  • Leaks from suture line

All of the listed possible risks are for the short term, but you can develop long-term issues as well.

The various long term issues that may develop over time after surgery are:

  • Abdominal wall hernia
  • Vomiting
  • Acid reflux
  • Stricture
  • Malnutrition
Researching relevant information helps prepare your mind and body for surgery.

The listed long-term health complications rarely lead to fatality.  The short-term and long-term health risks may appear risky, but there are many ways you can adequately prepare your mind and body before and after surgery.

Before surgery, it helps tremendously when you have a healthy exercise routine.  Exercising regularly helps your body fight off infections and recover faster from any health complication.  You should also stop all tobacco use before surgery because it can hinder your healing process after surgery.

After Gastric Sleeve Surgery Expectations

After your gastric sleeve surgery, you will experience a variety of mental and physical changes and sensations.  Your body will initially be in pain that varies depending on your tolerance.  Your body will go through a period of rapid weight loss because of your limited diet.

Through your first three months after surgery, you will initially experience some physical side effects that include:

  • Feeling tired and exhausted
  • Changes in mood
  • Dry and sensitive skin
  • Feeling cold due to changes in blood flow
  • Hair thinning and hair loss

All of the above changes are temporary but can leave lasting effects that take time and energy to adjust.

Having an infection, bleeding, or leak is possible, but your bariatric healthcare team will carefully monitor you after the surgery.  You may also experience nausea, constipation, or vomiting as your digestion system adjusts to a new diet.

Discuss your physical symptoms with your healthcare team to help your recovery process. 

Gastric Sleeve Problems After Surgery Explained

Along with physical changes, your taste buds may also alter after surgery.  Some cases of this are reflected in how certain foods taste, smell, and agree with you.

Because of your reduced stomach size, you can no longer receive large amounts of nutrients from an abundance of calories.  The risk of nutritional deficiencies are lower than the duodenal switch surgery or gastric bypass, but the risk is still apparent.

Gastric sleeve patients may experience B12, iron, and vitamin D deficiencies.  On average, about 12% of all gastric sleeve patients experience a nutritional deficiency after their surgery. You have to take a daily vitamin and other supplements for the rest of your life to avoid health complications.  Your bariatric healthcare team will have specific instructions that you must follow.

Overall, the surgical risks associated with gastric sleeve surgery are significantly lower compared to other weight-loss surgeries.  Gastric sleeve has lower complication rates during and after surgery than the Lap-Band and Gastric Bypass weight-loss surgeries.

Discuss with your doctor if you develop any extreme pain, especially in your lower abdomen. 

Gallbladder Problems After Gastric Sleeve

A serious health risk after surgery is the development of gallstones in your gallbladder after gastric sleeve surgery.  Gallstones consist of a hardened substance within your gallbladder, which becomes possible for gastric sleeve patients because of the rapid weight loss.

Gallbladder disease affects roughly 23% of gastric sleeve patients within two years of surgery.  Some of the signs that you are experiencing a gallstone include:

  • Nausea
  • Bloating, heartburn, gas, or indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in your upper back or upper abdomen
  • Pain lasting for several hours

All of the listed symptoms should be treated quickly when you experience intense pain for several hours.

You should speak with your bariatric healthcare team if you have extensive bloating, heartburn, or gas for several hours.

To treat gallstones, you will have surgery to remove the stones from your gallbladder.  The surgery is relatively minor in regards to risks, and the healing is not extensive.

Prioritizing your mental health is vital to your healing process after surgery. 

Liver Problems After Gastric Sleeve

This is a concern for bariatric patients that have an already fatty liver before their gastric sleeve surgery. Although liver damage is rare after gastric sleeve surgery, it is a serious health risk.

Liver health risks after gastric sleeve surgery consist of:

  • Acetaminophen poisoning
  • Addiction transfer
  • Alcohol

When you have a fatty liver, you cannot burn fat easily and experience more severe hunger cravings. Because of the importance of liver health before your gastric sleeve surgery, you must have your liver examined for optimal post-surgery success.

The listed health risks that can happen after gastric sleeve surgery are reduced greatly when you lose weight.  By healthily losing weight, you are naturally improving the overall health of your liver.

Kelsey Renae Schulze


Kelsey is a post-op bariatric patient who had sleeve surgery in 2018. She is a writer, focusing on a variety of topics given her background in legal studies and criminal justice.