Gastric Sleeve Side Effects, Risks, and Problems

There is always a possibility of risks and side effects with any surgical procedure, including gastric sleeve surgery. The good news, problems after gastric sleeve surgery are rare and rarely life-threatening. Ultimately, it’s important to fully understand all of the pros and cons before taking the leap.

Compared to other bariatric surgeries, sleeve gastrectomy has the least amount of post-op problems and complications. However, there is still a shortlist of “common” gastric sleeve side effects and risks that can be uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Here are some of these unforeseen consequences of gastric sleeve surgery and the best ways to treat them.

Most Reported Short-Term Side Effects

Based on a 2022 survey, we evaluated over 900 past patients’ to measure risk factors and adverse effects 90 days to two years after surgery. These results provide insight to help us obtain an unbiased estimate on the risk of harm.

Side EffectsPercentagePatients
Hair loss59.22%533

1. Hair Loss (59.22%)

Every day we typically lose 75 to 100 hairs. However, some patients will lose hair during rapid weight loss (sometimes in clumps that may be alarming but is purely hormonal). Once you are getting near your weight goal, hair loss will slow down.

Hair Loss After Gastric Sleeve - Real Sleeve Gastrectomy Side Effects

Hair loss may or may not happen to all gastric sleeve patients, but it usually isn’t something to worry about unless your physician is concerned about malnutrition. Typically the hair will regrow once you’ve reached your weight loss goal.

Treatment for Hair Loss

If you’re worried about hair loss, you can take hair supplements to help combat the rate at which you lose hair.

  • Co-Enzyme Q/10: 25-50mg per day
  • Biotin: 300mcg per day
  • Flax Seed Oil: 1-2 grams per day, gel tabs, oil, or sprinkles
  • Zinc: 50mg per day

Learn More: Prevent and Reduce Hair Loss After Weight Loss Surgery

2. Constipation or Diarrhea (55.11%)

Diarrhea and loose stools can be frequent, and very familiar with gastric sleeve surgery. This can occur several months following surgery. Because the first part of the postoperative diet is mainly liquids, many patients will have loose stools and frequent bathroom usage. However, this should only be a temporary issue though as the patient progresses to more solid foods – patients should see this issue will diminish.

Treatment for Loose Stool, Diarrhea, or Constipation

If you have constipation, drink more liquids. If you continue to have a problem with constipation, you may use daily medications such as Kaopectate® (for diarrhea) or Dulcolax® Tablets (for constipation). Speak with your primary care physician before taking any medication.

3. Nausea and Vomiting (31.34%)

Nausea may occur after surgery and can be treated with medication (ask your physician). For a natural remedy, try decaffeinated green tea. Sickness is often the result of the patient eating too fast, drinking liquids while eating, not chewing foods enough, or eating more than you should. Ultimately, nausea should subside as the patient becomes acclimated to their new eating habits and how much food it takes them to get full now.

Treatment for Nausea and Vomiting

To combat nausea, patients must consume foods and drinks slowly and thoroughly. Also, never drink while consuming a meal because it results in the patient getting full of liquids instead of nutritious food that will give them energy and promote weight loss.

Vomiting may occur because of trying fresh foods or nausea. If vomiting occurs, it’s important to go back to a fluids-only diet for up to 1 day until trying solid foods again and keeping them down. If vomiting is consistent and unavoidable, it could be a sign of a serious issue. Contact your physician immediately.

Learn More: Possible Nutritional Complications after Bariatric Surgery

4. Stomach Stretching

One of the most common questions we receive is whether the stomach will stretch after gastric sleeve surgery?

Perhaps one of the most dangerous side effects is esophagus stretching or dilation. These can occur because of excessive vomiting, binge eating, or stomach obstruction. A stomach obstruction happens when from food or swelling internally.

Learn More: Learn more about stomach stretching after gastric sleeve surgery.

Common Reported Side Effects (2022 Survey)

We surveyed 1057 past patients between 3 months to 24 months post-op.  946 patients (89.5%) reported at least one negative reaction following their weight loss procedure. Out of 13 common bariatric side effects, hair loss, gas, constipation, and fatigue were the most prominent.

Bariatric Surgery Side Effects 2022

Potential Gastric Sleeve Complications

Fortunately, gastric sleeve surgery is a weight loss procedure that typically is easier to manage and maintain due to being less invasive than gastric bypass. Bleeding, organ injury and even infection are all potential complications after gastric sleeve surgery.

  • Leakage
  • Blood clots
  • Gastroparesis (delay in moving food down the digestive tract)
  • Esophageal pain or spasm

Gastric Sleeve Risk vs. Reward

According to the World Journal of Diabetes, sleeve gastrectomy patients are more at-risk for forming nutritional complications. Low macro-nutrients and even micro-nutrients can cause several damaging side effects, including anemia, osteoporosis, and protein malnutrition.

Sleeve gastrectomy benefits may well outweigh the rare side effects and complications for obese and morbidly obese individuals. On average, patients with sleeve surgery lose 70% of their excess weight in less than 2 years. After bariatric surgery, postoperative supervision requires a collaborative team of specialists, including a nutritionist, primary care provider, and surgeon liaison. [source]

The underlying medical conditions such as diabetes type 2, hypertension, sleep apnea, heart disease, and joint problems do remit and improve after gastric sleeve operation. Consider getting the life-changing gastric sleeve surgery with Mexico Bariatric Center®, the #1 weight loss surgery provider in Tijuana.

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