Understanding the Risks of Gastrectomy or Gastric Sleeve Surgery


Sleeve gastrectomy, also commonly known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a type of weight loss surgery. This operation can be performed as an open surgery or laparoscopically. With laparoscopic surgery, there are many benefits as it involves multiple small incisions in the upper abdomen instead of a large one as in traditional open surgery. In a sleeve gastrectomy, almost 70 – 80% of the stomach is removed and only a tube-shaped stomach of the size and shape of a banana is left. This is a restriction based procedure which involves limiting the size of the stomach to restrict the amount of food the patient is able to consume. Also, the procedure results in certain hormonal changes that promotes weight loss. Bariatric surgery can help improve the obesity related conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease.


There are several types of weight loss surgery, each having its own pros and cons. The doctor explains all the procedures with their advantages and disadvantages, and help choose the most appropriate treatment for the patient. India is a popular destination for all kinds of medical procedure and emerging as a hub for bariatric surgery. The gastric sleeve surgery cost in India is highly affordable compared to several other countries, making it a cost-effective option for international patients. 


There are, however, two main long-term considerations that a patient must keep in mind. The first is that gastric sleeve is a permanent procedure. Unlike the gastric band, in which a band is placed around the stomach, dividing it into two pouches. It can be later removed, but the portion of the stomach that has been removed during the gastric sleeve procedure cannot be replaced. 

A person may not be able to lose as much weight with a gastric sleeve, but with gastric bypass surgery, a person typically lose more weight and maintain a higher percentage of excess weight loss for long-term.


Every surgical procedure has certain risks and complications associated with it. They may vary for patients depending on several factors. A bariatric surgery candidate must consider these risks and discuss the best possible option with the doctor before underground the surgery. Some possible risks and complications associated with gastric sleeve surgery are:

Failure to lose desired weigh: The surgery being ineffective for weight loss is a major problem. The pouch created out of the stomach might be too large, or the patient may not follow all the discharge instructions, or some other issue may cause not enough weight loss.


Regain weight again: During the initial days post surgery, the small stomach pouch is very small and may hold only about half a cup of food at a time. But with time, the pouch gets stretched and may accommodate larger amounts of food. This will gradually allow larger portion of meals to be consumed and will eventually lead to a stop in weight loss or even lead to weight gain. 


Nutritional deficiencies: Although patients who have a gastric sleeve procedure have no changes in their ability to absorb nutrients in the intestine. However, there is a dramatic decrease in amount of food consumed which can lead to lack in adequate nutrition. They may cause problems such as diarrhea and nausea which may also issues with absorbing enough calories and nutrients. The doctor may prescribe vitamin and mineral supplements, medication, and other interventions to maintain long term health.

Indigestion, or an upset stomach can be a common problem after gastric sleeve surgery. The reduced volume of the stomach along with changes in the manner that food moves through the stomach and intestines can lead to this. 


Nausea is also a frequently occurring problem that patients face after sleeve gastrectomy. Mostly, it improves after complete recovery from surgery, but for some, the problem may persist for months or even long term.


Diarrhea: It can be a serious problem for some patients if it persists after gastric sleeve surgery. This can occur due to alterations in gut microbiota and rapid exposure of the small intestine to undigested food.

Sagging skin: This side-effect is common to most types of weight loss surgeries and is caused by stretching of skin during the period of obesity. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Heartburn, bloating, feelings of fullness, and upset stomach are common symptoms of GERD after this surgery and often requires medical treatment.

Stomach Ulcers: Also known as peptic ulcers, they are not uncommon after gastric sleeve surgery. They are usually diagnosed with an upper endoscopy after the patient experiences bleeding in stool, blood in vomit or pain in the stomach area.

Gallstones: It is a potential complication of all types of bariatric surgery. Therfore, a cholecystectomy, a surgery to remove the gallbladder, is common after weight loss surgery.

Obstruction in stomach: Stenosis caused by scarring and narrowing of the outlet of the stomach can make food digestion difficult or even impossible. 

Abscess: This is a condition of infection or collection of pus in the body in a small pocket-like area. This generally occurs shortly after the surgery due to leakage of intestinal contents. 

Delayed leakage: Suture line disruption or SLD is caused when suture line leaks. It is discovered shortly after surgery. 


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