In comparison to all other bariatric surgeries, vertical sleeve gastrectomy is considered a pretty innocuous and effective weight loss procedure. While it’s still pretty new, it has gained favor among patients and physicians alike. It has taken over the gastric bypass and lap band bariatric surgeries as the leading bariatric surgery.

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Just like any other medical procedure, gastric sleeve surgery can lead to complications some of which can be fatal. Several studies have been conducted to examine how safe the procedure is as well as the risk of complications in patients.

A study conducted at Stanford University in the year 2010 showed that mortality rate from gastric sleeve surgery stood at 0.08%. This means that 1 in 1000 individuals who go through the procedure are likely to die from the surgery. Most of the patients from the study were morbidly and severely obese and the mortality rate is often higher in any surgery among this group of individuals.

Another study conducted at the Cleveland Clinic in the year 2011 showed that there were lower complications associated with gastric sleeve surgery as opposed to gastric bypass and lap band.

The procedure is therefore generally safe and although complications can arise at different stages during and after surgery, the risk of death or serious impairment is lower.

Some of the common complications include:


The of bleeding after surgery stand at 1% to 6%. The bleeding can be extra or intraluminal. Intraluminal bleeding occurs from the line of staples used to join the stomach and this presents in the form of bleeding of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms of hemorrhaging include bloody stool or hematemesis and diagnosis and treatment involves surgery and re-stapling of the affected areas. Intravenous lines that are large bore might be established, measurement of one’s urine output using a Foley catheter, gastroscopy for diagnosis and to control the bleeding from its source and blood transfusion.


The other complication that arises from a vertical sleeve gastrectomy is an intra-abdominal abscess. Symptoms of this include nausea, vomiting, chills/fever as well as abdominal pain. Your surgeon will most likely perform a computed tomography scan in your abdomen if they suspect that you have an abscess following surgery. This complication rarely occurs and studies show that only about 0.7% of all patients develop an abscess. For treatment, antibiotics are administered as well as percutaneous drainage.

Leaking Of The Staple Line

About 5% of all vertical sleeve gastrectomy suffer from a gastric leak after surgery. This is the most dreaded and serious complication associated with the procedure. There are two types of gastric leaks. Type 1 also known as a subclinical leak is managed by either draining the line surgically or by using a fistulous tract inserted into the chest or abdominal cavity to drain the line. Type 2 also referred to as a clinical leak is a scattered leak that diffuses into one’s chest or abdominal cavities.

Related: Side Effects of Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

A leak can be diagnosed early or late. If diagnosed within 3 days following surgery, it’s easier to treat and treatment is often more effective. If diagnosed after 8 days or more, it becomes harder to treat and treatment is less effective.