How Safe Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

If you are struggling with your health and your weight is an issue, you may be thinking about having weight loss surgery. During your research on which type of bariatric surgery would suit your situation the best, you may have found that gastric sleeve surgery is considered the “safest” of all of the bariatric surgery options. But, is gastric sleeve surgery safe?

Today we are going to talk about some of the risks and complications that can occur during and after this weight loss surgery. We will look at the problems that can arise during the surgery as well as answer the question, “is gastric sleeve safe long-term?”

What Do You Mean By Safe?

Just because something is considered safer than other options does not necessarily mean it is safe. Is falling off a 10-foot ladder safer than falling off one that reaches 20 feet? Neither is ideal because both pose significant risks, so not falling at all would be the safest choice.

There are risks and the possibility of complications with any type of surgery. Gastric sleeve surgery is no exception, so before choosing to undergo this procedure, you should have a good understanding of what these are so you can make an informed decision.

What Happens During Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Most often, this surgery is done through small incisions that are created in different areas of the abdomen, and a laparoscope is used to guide the surgeon during the process. During this surgery, a large portion of the stomach is sliced off and permanently removed. What is left is shaped into a thin, tube-like pocket, and the remaining edges are surgically stapled together. The patient is left with a small pouch that is about 25% of the original size of the stomach.

What Are The Potential Risks Or Complications Of Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Anesthesia Risks

With any type of surgery that requires the patient to be fully asleep, there are always the risks that come with the use of general anesthesia. These include:

  • Aspiration pneumonia: This can happen when a patient regurgitates while asleep under anesthesia, and the material travels to the lungs, causing infection;
  • Anesthesia awareness: Although very rare, this occurs in a few patients out of every thousand and involves the patient being aware during the procedure. They normally do not feel any pain but are unable to move or speak to let the surgical team know;
  • Damage To Peripheral Nerves: This can happen during any surgery and can result from the patient being in certain positions during surgery for extended periods of time;
  • Most Common Temporary Side Effects: Around 30% of the patients who receive general anesthesia wake up feeling nauseated and begin vomiting. These symptoms can last up to a few days and can be quite unpleasant. Other common side effects often experienced are dry mouth, itching, blurry vision, dizziness, hoarse voice, sore throat, and fatigue.

Risks That Can Occur during The Gastric Sleeve Surgical Procedure

Many of the complications that happen with surgery will occur during the operation or within the first seven days. Knowing what to look for can help you identify a potential issue and when to seek medical assistance. Complications that can occur from gastric sleeve surgery include:

  1. Excessive Bleeding: This would most likely happen within a few hours to a day, so most patients must spend a minimum of at least one night in the hospital. The bleeding usually happens along the line of staples that were put in to secure the stomach edges and normally happens slowly. You may feel dizzy or be unable to catch your breath, and your pulse may be unusually fast. Other signs include your complexion looking very pale or not outputting your normal amount of urine. Another sign of excessive bleeding that won’t appear right away is very dark stool;
  2. Leaking Stomach: This is a rarer complication, but it is very serious and demands emergency attention from a medical professional. This problem arises if there is a gap or rip along the edge of the stomach along the staple line. Debris from the stomach seeps into the abdominal cavity, causing infection that can lead to sepsis. The signs of a leak include pain in the abdomen that gets incrementally worse, abdominal bloating, fever, shoulder pain, left-side chest pain, pale complexion, dizziness, a fast heartbeat, and shortness of breath;
  3. Blood Clots: This complication is one that you hear the most about and the reason they make you walk around right after you have surgery. Although it happens in only about 1% of patients, a blood clot can be fatal, so it is important to follow all the post-surgery instructions. Patients who are obese are more at risk for blood clots, so it is important to mitigate the risks after gastric sleeve surgery and get your blood circulating as soon as possible. The signs of a blood clot include itchy skin, a patch of skin that is warmer than the rest and maybe discolored or swollen, chest pain, fainting or feeling dizzy, a fast pulse and heart rate, nausea, fever, sweating, coughing, or localized pain in the vicinity of the clot;
  4. Abscess In The Abdomen: This rare complication happens when a spot within the abdomen becomes infected and pus begins to collect. It is normally diagnosed with a CT scan, and treatment involves the abscess being drained by the doctor and antibiotics. This complication develops over a period of time and can manifest with a rapid heart rate, fever, throwing up, and a bloated abdomen;
  5. Infection of Incisions: The entry wounds created for the surgery can become infected (normally between 7 and 10 days after gastric sleeve surgery). Normally, the incision is opened up, cleaned, and rebandaged, and the patient is given antibiotics. Patients might get a fever, and the area around the entry sites will become very red, hot, or oozing.

Post-Op Safety Of Gastric Sleeve: Long-Term Complications

After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, some patients develop issues that may persist. These issues can include:

  1. Chronic Acid Reflux
  2. Stomach Blockage: Known as stenosis, a blockage can occur in some sections of the smaller stomach tube, which will not allow food to pass through. It is most often caused by the formation of scar tissue and is usually opened back up through an endoscopic procedure or a more intense dilation process. If the patient was not having any issues eating solid foods but suddenly could only tolerate liquids without throwing up, they may have developed a blockage.
  3. Stomach Twist: Gastric sleeve surgery alters the shape and size of the stomach, resulting in a tube-like shape that eliminates some of the ligaments that anchor the stomach within its environment. On rare occasions, the stomach can become twisted, creating an obstruction that will not allow food to pass through. When this happens, it usually causes the patient to experience severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This complication can occur due to the lack of expertise of the surgeon, so choosing a qualified and experienced doctor is critical.

What Is Safer Than Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

If you have been wanting help losing weight but have questions about if gastric sleeve surgery is safe, you will want to hear about this. It is a procedure that has been approved by the FDA and delivers the same or better weight loss results than surgery.

Suture Sculpt benefits

Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) does not require surgery, but makes the stomach smaller without incisions or removing any part of it. The procedure is done through the patient’s mouth and throat using a special tool called an endoscope. During the procedure, the doctor folds the patient’s stomach into a smaller size and shapes it into a banana-like form that is held together with stitches. This is all normally completed in under an hour, and patients can go home the same day. Some of the benefits include:

  • No cuts, so significantly reduced chance of infection or bleeding;
  • No part of the stomach is removed;
  • No chance of acid reflux;
  • No hospital stay is required;
  • Very fast recovery;
  • No restrictions on activities immediately following the procedure;
  • Risks involved in Suture Sculpt ESG are less than 2%;
  • Offers similar or better results than gastric sleeve surgery.

Why Worry If Gastric Sleeve Is Safe When You Can Lose Weight Without The Risk Of Surgery

If you would like to lose weight without losing part of your stomach and suffering through a four to six-week recovery, give us a call to learn about Suture Sculpt ESG. Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center offers options for weight loss that do not require surgery but are proven to be safe and effective.

In just an hour, your life can change forever, and you will have the ability to eat less, stay full longer, and achieve sustainable weight loss. The exceptional team at Batash Medical will craft an individualized plan customized to your circumstances and will help guide you in reaching your goals for better health. Set up a consultation with one of our experts today and live healthier tomorrow.

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