Gastric Sleeve FAQ

The gastric sleeve is a common weight loss treatment. Read the following gastric sleeve FAQs to find out more.

How much weight will I lose?

The national average weight loss following a gastric sleeve is 60-70% of excess body weight over a 12-18 month period.

Will I lose weight quickly?

Weight loss is generally quite fast initially, more than with having a band but will settle into a regular pattern. Long-term success is related directly to a patient’s motivation and their commitment to following the dietary guidelines provided.

How long will I have to stay in hospital after surgery?

You will normally stay in hospital for two nights for this type of procedure. The first night you will be in a High Dependency Unit.

How will my diet change after surgery?

It is vital that only liquids are consumed for the first two weeks to reduce the risk to the staples healing in the stomach. Then there is a need to restrict the consistency and type of foods that can be consumed in order to progress the healing. The new stomach is much smaller and subsequently has a smaller capacity to store anything that you eat. This means you won’t be able to eat large volumes of food. You will feel full very quickly and your appetite should decrease. As the body adjusts and swelling settles there will be some give allowing for more solid food to be consumed.

You will not be able to eat the same volume of food as you do now. By the end of the first year you should be able to eat a child sized portion of food. This will gradually increase as your weight stabilizes and your tolerance increases.

What if I am still very hungry after surgery?

Most patients experience a reduction in hunger following a sleeve gastrectomy though some patients continue to feel hungry at times. It is important to make lifestyle changes and change eating habits to best manage those symptoms. ‘Head hunger’ and ‘stomach hunger’ can be different and it is important to learn to recognise the difference at the early stages. Habit and food dependence may need to be addressed to reduce those symptoms.

What are the potential complications of surgery?

Possible risks of gastric sleeve surgery include, but are not limited to:

General Complications:

  • Allergic Reactions: From minor reactions such as rash to sudden overwhelming reactions
  • Anaesthetic Complications: Anaesthesia used to put you to sleep for the operation can be associated with variety of complications. The anaesthetist will discuss anaesthetic risks with you
  • Bleeding: From minor to massive bleeding that can lead to the need for blood transfusion and/or emergency surgery
  • Blood Clots: Also called deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolus (PE) that can sometimes cause stroke, heart attack, loss of limb and death
  • Infection: Including wound infections, bladder infections, pneumonia and deep abdominal infections

Specific Complications:

  • Leak: The stapled stomach can leak acid, bacteria and digestive enzymes causing a severe infection and abscess. This can require endoscopy with possible insertion of synthetic tube (stent) within the new stomach for sometime to aid healing, repeated surgery and intensive care admission
  • Narrowing (stricture): narrowing of the sleeve may require endoscopic dilatation
  • Bowel obstruction: Any operation in the abdomen can leave behind scar tissue that can put the patient at risk for later bowel blockage
  • Laparoscopic surgery risks: Laparoscopic surgery uses punctures to enter the abdomen and can lead to injury and bleeding
  • Hernia: Cuts in the abdominal wall can lead to hernias after surgery
  • Hair loss: Many patients develop hair loss for a short period after surgery. This usually responds to increased levels of vitamins
  • Complications of pregnancy: Rapid weight loss can put babies of  gastric sleeve mothers at risk. No pregnancy should occur for the first 12-18 months after surgery
  • Ulcers: Patients undergoing gastric sleeve may develop ulcers at the bottom of the stomach. Ulcers may require medical or surgical treatment and have complications of chronic pain, bleeding and perforation.

Can the surgery be reversed?

No, as  part of the stomach has been removed, it cannot be reversed.