Risks & Complications

What are the risks?

Gastric sleeve surgery is generally safe, but there are always risks when you are having an operation. You will need to discuss these risks with your doctor before deciding if the procedure is right for you.

Side-effects:

Certain side effects can happen after gastric sleeve surgery. Side effects will usually only be temporary and they are generally mild. The most frequent effects are soreness or some slight swelling round the incisions. Some people experience discomfort after eating in the first days after the operation. This feeling should go away once you heal, as long as you don’t overeat.

Complications:

More serious complications can also happen when you have gastric sleeve surgery. This is when problems occur during or after the operation. Such problems are much less common than the milder side effects. Most people will not experience any serious complications from this surgery.

One potential risk of having the procedure is that you will need to be put under a general anaesthetic. Some people can have a bad reaction to the anaesthetic. Other potential complications associated with surgery include heavy bleeding and blood clots. The chance of surgical complications is low, but they are increased by conditions such as high blood pressure.

Some of the complications you may get after sleeve gastrectomy operation are listed here:

  • Infection – although antibiotics can help prevent post-surgical infections, there is still a chance that you will develop one and require further treatment
  • Damage to your organs – although the risk is low with an experienced surgeon, it is possible other organs in your abdomen could be damaged. Another procedure could be required to set it right.
  • Staple line leak – during a sleeve gastrectomy, your stomach will be sealed with surgical staples. If these start to leak while you are recovering from surgery, you may need another operation to seal your stomach.
  • Sleeve stricture – sometimes the sleeve-shaped stomach can get narrower after surgery or an ulcer may form in it. More surgery or a procedure called an endoscopy might be necessary to fix the problem.
  • Gallstones – some people get gallstones when they lose a lot of weight quickly.
  • Failure to achieve weight loss – a sleeve gastrectomy will help you to lose weight, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll reach your goal. Some people don’t manage to get rid of their excess weight even after surgery.

There is a chance your surgeon may need to convert your keyhole procedure to open surgery. This means making a bigger cut on your abdomen. This is only done if it’s impossible to complete the operation safely using the keyhole technique.

The chance of complications during or after the procedure will vary between individuals. Your surgeon will be able to provide personalised advice on the risks of weight loss surgery. In general, about 5% of people will experience some complications when having a sleeve gastrectomy. The chance of experiencing fatal complications during surgery is 0.2%.

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