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Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve

Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve

Weight loss surgery has become a common surgical tool to combat obesity for the past few decades. With the increase in insurance coverage and awareness of its positive health benefits, weight loss surgery has become the primary method for drastic weight loss.

Because of the increase in weight loss surgeries, there has been a significant increase with gastric sleeve weight-loss surgeries.  Gastric Sleeve surgery has become the most recommended weight loss surgery due to its minimal invasiveness, easy recovery, and short and long-term treatment for obesity.

Although the gastric sleeve appears to be a great treatment for obesity, there are many aspects of this surgery that bariatric patients should and need to be aware of before choosing this permanent surgery.

Gastric sleeve surgery is not a quick fix due to its permanent reduction of your stomach size. Before committing to gastric sleeve surgery, you need to think about all of your habits, health concerns, and possible complications from receiving this surgery.

Here is an outline of all of the cons and possible risks you may encounter with gastric sleeve.  There are detailed explanations of the many positive side effects as well.

Carefully analyze the risks and benefits of gastric sleeve surgery.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Pros

The gastric sleeve or vertical sleeve gastrectomy consists of four to five small incisions on your stomach that remove laparoscopically or robotically over 80% of your stomach.  With a significantly reduced stomach, you will begin to lose weight.  Here are some of the pros of choosing the gastric sleeve surgery for your weight loss.


  • A success rate of 85%
  • Lose 60% of excess weight in 12 months
  • Minimally invasive
  • 4 to 5 tiny incisions
  • Recover quickly from surgery
  • Obesity-related illnesses improve
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Hypertension

Immediately after your gastric sleeve surgery, you will recover for one to two days.  You will not typically experience a lot of pain, but there are possible complications you may experience.

You may have to spend another day in the hospital if you cannot drink liquids successfully.  You will have to be monitored for another day or two to make sure you can drink liquids safely.

Discuss with your bariatric healthcare team the benefits of gastric sleeve. 

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cons

With every major surgery, you need to consider health risks and complications carefully before making your decision.  Overall, bariatric surgery is mostly safe for most patients.  According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, bariatric surgery has a negative chance of risk of 4 percent.

A 4 percent chance of surgical complications is significantly lower than most other major surgeries.  The risks you may encounter during your gastric sleeve surgery are:


  • Bleeding or leaking at staple lines
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Post-surgery pain in the abdomen
  • Requiring pain medications
  • Permanent and irreversible procedure

All of the listed above risks are possible during your gastric sleeve surgery.  All of these risks and complications vary based on your current health state before going into surgery.  The healthier you are before surgery, the more likely you will not have any severe complications.

Attending a bariatric support group is a great way to learn about the process. 

Gastric Sleeve Cons Explained

After your gastric sleeve surgery, you are closely monitored for one to two days.  Once you can leave the hospital, you are closely monitored by your bariatric health care team to determine how well you are adjusting after your surgery.

You may experience complications after your gastric sleeve that varies depending on your health state.

These post-surgery complications include:


  • No physical activity until allowed by the surgeon
  • 80% permanent removal of the stomach
  • Acid reflux possibility
  • No carbonated beverages
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Narrowing along with stomach pouch

Overall the possibility of you experiencing the listed possible immediate surgical complications or after-surgery complications is relatively minor compared to other surgeries.

Along with all of the immediate after surgery possible complications, there are other factors you should consider.  There are many risks and rewards to gastric sleeve surgery.  You should be fully informed of the short term and long term consequences of gastric sleeve surgery.

Preparing your food helps lessen weight regain with portion controlled meals. 

Gastric Sleeve Pros and Cons Long Term

If you choose to have gastric sleeve surgery, you need to be aware of the short-term and long-term health benefits and risks.   When you have gastric sleeve surgery, you are radically reducing your stomach, where you can only eat roughly half a cup of food.

Because your amount of food is drastically reduced, you will lose a large amount of weight throughout your first 12 months after surgery.  If you are following your bariatric plan organized by your healthcare team, you should lose about 60% of your excess weight.

You can lose weight by monitoring your portion sizes and limiting your ability to overeat.  When you overeat, you minimize the effectiveness of your sleeve and can stretch it.  Although the gastric sleeve is successful amongst the majority of patients, there are small percentages that do not see the weight loss they are expecting.

Prioritize your mental health when losing weight to keep you on track with your goals.

Pros and Cons Long Term Explained

The main struggles gastric sleeve patients have after their surgery is weight regain and nutritional deficiencies.  Because with the gastric sleeve, you may not lose as much weight as you anticipated, which increases your chances of having a larger weight regain.

Weight regain is a long term problem that limits the effectiveness of the surgery.  Most weight regain occurs during your third year after surgery, where you have lost most of your weight from the surgery, and limiting regain depends on your cultivated habits that must be maintained.

It is entirely possible to gain some of your surgery weight back, and some bariatric patients end up regaining all of their excess weight.

Along with weight regain after surgery, you also consume fewer calories due to your sleeved stomach.

Due to dicreased acid production, certain vitamins and minerals such as iron, Ca, B12 will have impaired absorption and you may develop nutritional deficiencies after surgery. Suppose you are not receiving enough vitamins and nutrients from your diet. In that case, your bariatric health care team will suggest various supplements or medication that balance your levels and improve your overall health.

Although the gastric sleeve is a relatively new weight loss surgery, it can dramatically improve your health.  The gastric sleeve is a beneficial tool for weight loss when used effectively.

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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.