Gastric sleeve - Medical concerns

Gastric Sleeve surgery is a proven safe and effective procedure for weight loss. However it is major surgery and, although rare, complications can occur.

Urgent symptoms

If you experience the following symptoms then please seek emergency attention:
  • Abdominal pain
  • Excessive rapid heartbeat
  • Fever with a temperature above 37.5C
  • Chest pain and/or shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea and/or vomiting and/or difficulty in swallowing for more than 12 hours
  • Pain, redness and/or swelling in your legs
  • Passing urine less than four times in 24 hours
  • Pain that is unrelieved by analgesic medication

Staple line leaks

Your surgeon will test and double check the staple line during your gastric sleeve procedure. However if you think you may have a staple line leak and suffer from any of these symptoms you must seek urgent medical attention (e.g. by going to A&E or calling for an ambulance);

  • Fever with a temperature above 37.5C
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty or altered breathing

Thrombosis (blood clots)

Blood clots after gastric sleeve surgery are rare but they can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. You must seek urgent medical attention by going to A&E or calling for an ambulance if these symptoms appear in your arms or legs:

  • Increased pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness or heat in your leg
  • Shortness of breath, rapid breathing
  • Coughing up blood or chest pain


A stricture is when the opening to or from the stomach becomes inflamed and/or blocked preventing all or some of the food from properly entering the stomach or intestines. You are advised to contact the 24 hour helpline or your GP for advice if you experience the following;

  • Nausea or vomiting. If this occurs every time you eat contact your doctor immediately.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Food intolerance

Wound infection

If you are concerned about your wound and you develop the following symptoms you’re advised to contact the 24 hour helpline or your GP for advice;

  • Redness or swelling around your wounds
  • Increased pain around your wounds
  • Excessive discharge or bleeding from your wounds
  • Pus in your wounds (yellow or green discharge)
  • Fever with a temperature above 37.5C


Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, and if trapped in a duct can irritate and inflame the gallbladder. You are advised to contact the 24 hour helpline or your GP for advice if you experience the following;

  • A sudden intense pain in your tummy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Jaundice

Normal symptoms

Dumping syndrome

Dumping of your food into the intestines too quickly before it’s been properly digested is common for gastric sleeve patients. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhoea

Avoid foods that lead to dumping. These are normally weight gaining, sugary and high fat foods.


Reflux is a common problem after gastric sleeve surgery, often occurring at night or in the early morning. Symptoms include a burning feeling in the stomach or throat, gastric pain, an unpleasant taste in the mouth and coughing on waking. You should speak with your GP or bariatric surgeon regarding this.

Vitamin deficiency

After your surgery, it is extremely important that you take your vitamin supplements as directed by your bariatric dietician. Multivitamins are often recommended. After a gastric sleeve procedure patients are often deficient in calcium, iron and vitamin D, B‐12 and B complex.


It is very important that you drink eight glasses of water a day otherwise you may become dehydrated. Sip, Sip, Sip all day long!  


You’ll probably have a tendency to burp more than before. Sometimes it can almost be involuntary. With practice you can gain some control and avoid embarrassment. You may also feel as if you have trapped wind. Drinking peppermint tea may be helpful.

Nausea or vomiting

This is especially common within the first few months following gastric sleeve surgery. Avoid eating and drinking too quickly or too much, take small bites and chew your food thoroughly.


Drink plenty of fluids, eat fibrous foods and move around regularly.

Diarrhoea or loose stools

This is normally diet related. Decipher and avoid these “trigger” foods that disagree with your stomach.

Gurgling noises

Gurgling noises are completely normal and are due to the different way your new digestive system pushes air through. The best way to prevent gurgling noises is to avoid the following; carbonated drinks, sipping through a straw, eating or drinking too quickly and chewing gum.

Skin changes

Acne or dry skin can occur with some patients. Try adjusting your diet, take vitamins or use over the counter creams and lotions.

Hair loss

Hair loss is an alarming but temporary side effect of rapid weight loss. Proper nutrition paying particular attention to protein and vitamins is the best defence.


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