Bariatric Surgery Resource

Gastric Sleeve Complications

Gastric sleeve surgery can involve complications similar to other bariatric surgery procedures. While gastric sleeve surgery is overall a very safe procedure with a low mortality rate of about 0.39% there are some potential complications that have greater risk than others. The potential for gastric sleeve complications can be reduced if you follow a proper recovery plan and preparation plan given to you by your doctor.


Nausea is one of the most common side effects that is often caused by attempting to eat too much after surgery. It is very easy to reach your stomach capacity quicker than you are accustomed to, especially in the first few weeks immediately after surgery. This will cause you to feel nausea. Nausea can also be caused by not chewing your food enough or by drinking while eating.

This is why it is important that you get in to the habit of drinking between meals instead of during meals. The key to avoiding nausea is eating slowly, chew your food completely and knowing to stop immediately that moment you feel full.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is a potential side effect of gastric sleeve surgery in patients typically a few months after surgery. this is caused by a deficiency in nutrition, particularly an inadequate amount of protein and/or zinc.


Constipation is a common side effect of vertical gastrectomy that is preventable. Constipation is usually caused by a decrease in the patients fiber intake after surgery. This can be avoided by drinking plenty of fluids (between meals) and ensuring you are staying physically active. Obviously, increasing your fiber intake once you are able to eat 'regular' foods again will also help prevent constipation.

Dumping Syndrome

The “Dumping syndrome” which is also associated with Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass is when the contents of the stomach move too rapidly through the small intestine causing nausea, weakness, fainting, perspiration and sometimes diarrhea. Typically many people are unable to tolerate certain foods, especially those that are high in sugar or fat. These foods are often linked to "dumping syndrome" and avoiding these foods can help lessen or even eliminate the possibility of this side effect. Fortunately, "dumping syndrome" is one of the least dangerous complications in terms of impact on your long term health outlook.

Stomach Leaking

In some instances a patient can experience internal leakage post surgery. This is due to improper sealing and can lead to serious infections. This is something that is monitored very closely, especially immediately after the surgery has been completed. The fix for internal leaking is additional surgery to correct the issue.

Stomach Stretching

One of the more common complications related to the gastric sleeve is stomach stretching. After the surgery your stomach will be much smaller due to a large portion having been removed. You should watch the size of your meal portions because if you don't you can, and very likely will, stretch the size of your stomach. This will have a cyclical affect causing you to take longer to feel full and negating the effect of the surgery.

Stomach Stricture

The newly created stomach pouch can become overly narrow causing frequent vomiting after eating meals. This complication is not as common as some of the others listed here.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is one of then more common side effects of gastric sleeve surgery affecting almost 1 in 5 patients who undergo this procedure within the first year post-surgery. Gastroesophageal Reflux occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus causing a burning sensation. Many patients will have symptoms of GERD before surgery as it is commonly attributed to being overweight. Typically patients complaining of this will decrease in the long term as weight is lost.

Additional Risks and Complications

Besides what has already been discussed here related to gastric sleeve there are potential complications and risks that you should be aware of that affect all bariatric surgeries in general. These include both short and long term complications that you should be discussing with your doctor.