There are two types of complications of Gastric Weight Loss Surgery: acute and chronic. Acute complications are ones that occur shortly after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery and chronic issues are ones that arise or persist six months after the date of surgery. Acute complications include bleeding, pain, and blood clots.
Initial failure to lose: This is a serious problem where the Gastric Weight Loss Surgery is ineffective for weight loss. The pouch may be too large, the patient may ignore discharge instructions, or another issue may be present that prevents weight loss.
Intolerance of foods: One of the benefits of this procedure is that all foods can be eaten after the procedure, while other bariatric surgeries require that you avoid specific foods. That does not mean the body will tolerate all types of foods, it just means that no foods are forbidden after the procedure.
Sleeve dilation: In the initial days after theGastric Weight Loss Surgery, the stomach pouch that remains is very small and will hold about half a cup of food at one time. Over time, the pouch stretches and is able to accommodate larger amounts of food in one sitting. This allows larger meals to be consumed and can eventually lead to weight loss stopping or weight gain starts.
Dyspepsia: Indigestion, or an upset stomach, can be more frequent after the Gastric Weight Loss Surgery.
Addiction Transfer: This is a phenomenon that happens to some individuals when they are no longer able to use food as a way to self-medicate their emotions. For example, after a hard day at work, it is no longer possible to go home and binge on an entire container of ice cream, it just won’t fit in the stomach
Divorce: While not a physical problem after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery, divorce is certainly a potential complication that should be considered. In the United States, an average of 50 per cent of marriages ends in divorce, while some sources indicate that the rate of divorce after bariatric surgeries is as high as 80 per cent.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): Heartburn, along with other symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease that include bloating, nausea, feelings of fullness, upset stomach, is common after this surgery and often requires medication.
Stomach obstruction: Scarring and narrowing of the outlet of the stomach, also known as stenosis, can make it difficult or impossible to digest food. This complication is typically fixed by a surgeon who “stretches” or surgically fixes the area that has become narrowed.
Abscess: An abscess is a collection of infectious material (pus) that forms in the body in a pocket-like area. In this case of Gastric Weight Loss Surgery, abscesses have been diagnosed in the spleen, some requiring the spleen to be removed, but these are very rare.
Delayed Leak: Most suture line leaks, also known as suture line disruption or SLD, are discovered shortly after surgery. In some cases, the area of the stomach that was sewn together will begin to leak months or even years after surgery. These later leaks are much rarer than those diagnosed shortly after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery but can be equally troublesome and may require medications, hospitalization, or surgery to correct.
Stomach ulcers: Stomach ulcers, known as peptic ulcers or peptic ulcer disease (PUD), are more common after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery, and are typically diagnosed during an upper endoscopy after the patient experiences bleeding (seen as a dark, tarry stool or as blood in vomit) or pain in the stomach area.
Nausea: Nausea is one of the more common issues that patients face after sleeve gastrectomy. For most, the issues improve after recovering from surgery, but for others, the problem persists for months or even long term. Medications are available for nausea, which may be helpful for some.
Gallstones: Gallstones are more common after all types of bariatric surgery, making a cholecystectomy (surgery to remove the gallbladder) more common for gastric weight loss surgery patients.
Diarrhea: For some patients, diarrhea is a serious problem that may persist after surgery. In cases that last for an extended period of time, the surgeon or a gastroenterologist may be able to help stop diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
Need for nutritional supplements: Many bariatric surgery patients require supplements of vitamins and minerals after surgery. Unlike many gastric bypass surgeries, patients who have a gastric sleeve procedure do not have any change in their ability to absorb nutrients in the intestine, but the dramatic decrease in food intake can lead to difficulties taking in adequate nutrition.
Regain: One of the complications that gastric sleeve patients worry about the most is losing weight only to unintentionally gain weight back. Losing weight after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery only to gain some or all of it back typically starts in the third year after surgery.
Permanency: The surgery, for better or for worse, is a permanent alteration of the stomach. Unlike the gastric band procedure, where the band can be removed if there is a problem, the portion of the stomach cannot be replaced if there are complications or issues with digestion.
Less weight loss than other procedures: Individuals who have gastric bypass surgery typically lose more weight and keep off a higher percentage of excess weight long term when compared to Gastric Weight Loss Surgery That said, those surgeries can present with different and challenging long-term issues. The choice of surgery is a very personal decision best made by the patient and their surgeon, based on their individual needs.
Diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic conditions do not resolve: For some, getting rid of chronic health problems is the reason for having the surgery. In some individuals, these problems do not go away after Gastric Weight Loss Surgery, or they may go away temporarily in the early months or years after surgery, then return later.
Sagging skin: This complication is common with all types of weight loss surgeries and is the result of skin stretching during the period of obesity. Surgery is available to remove excess skin, but many surgeons prefer to wait until the patient’s weight has been stable for one to two years prior to removing excess skin.
Inability to take in adequate amounts of food: Losing too much weight can sound like a good outcome to an individual who needs to lose 100 pounds or more, but the reality is far different. It is possible for the stomach pouch to be too small, or for other issues to make the pouch smaller than intended, which leads to an inability to eat a quantity of food large enough to sustain the body over time
Malnutrition: This issue comes in a variety of forms. There can be a decreased intake of minerals and vitamins that leads to a lack of essential nutrients. There can be an inability to take in adequate calories
Incisional hernia: A hernia can form at the site of any surgical incision. This risk is minimized by minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgical techniques, but a hernia can still form in the months and years following surgery. Typically, this looks like a small bulge at the site of a surgical incision.
Abdominal adhesions: The organs and tissues of the abdomen are naturally slippery, allowing them to move and slide past each other during movements such as bending, twisting, and walking. After a surgery, scarring can make these tissues “stick” to each other, and this causes a pulling sensation that can range from annoying to painful with movement.