Gastric sleeve side effects: how to prevent or cope with them

After surgery, patients are expected to experience gastric sleeve side effects. They are common to occur as a result of the surgery and/or the anesthesia. Some patients may not inhibit a few of the common side effects, but some are inevitable due to changes and the stress put on the body, and lack of nutrition.

You will adjust to the changes that happen after the surgery in time. And all of the side effects you experience should fade out as you recover. You need to allow yourself time and rest to recover and heal properly.

Without further ado, let’s review the gastric sleeve side effects.

What are the common gastric sleeve side effects?

There’s a difference between the complications you may face with gastric sleeve and side effects. Side effects can be considered normal and tend to be easy to solve. Here are the most common gastric sleeve side effects:

  • Body pain
  • Gas buildup
  • Feeling cold
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation & diarrhea
  • Hair loss

It is normal for these side effects to occur. They will pass as time goes on. The instructions given by your surgeon and dietitian are to help with these side effects of gastric sleeve surgery. To ensure a smooth and successful recovery, it is important to follow the instructions.

Body pain

You can experience body pain after gastric sleeve. This can be on your back, chest, right/left side, joints as you walk, or on your throat while you eat.

As you lose fat, you lose all that extra layers around your organs and muscles. Since they are not used to that much impact, they may hurt for a while. All this will improve as you progress in your recovery. Your biomechanics are changing. Your body will get stronger and your experience of body pain will lessen gradually.

To manage the body pain early on, you will be prescribed ibuprofen painkillers by your surgeon. You can go on walks or stretch to improve circulation and relieve the tension in your muscles. If the pain you are experiencing is severe and/or persistent, you should consult your healthcare provider to check if there are any underlying conditions.


Nausea after gastric sleeve is less common than gas buildup. Your new stomach size can trigger nausea. Because there is increased pressure on your stomach, so you may feel nauseous at times.

You can minimize and/or prevent nausea by;

  1. eating and drinking slowly,
  2. waiting 30 minutes between solids and fluids,
  3. stopping eating once you start feeling full
  4. avoiding foods that are hard to digest and
  5. eating foods you are recommended to

For instance, if you eat solid food way before you are allowed to, you can experience nausea.


Fatigue after gastric sleeve surgery is common and expected. Your body went through a lot of stress during your surgery. And recovery process can be a bit tiring. You are also consuming fewer calories and generating less energy. It may take some time for you to get used to it.

As you lose weight and your body mass decreases, the energy your body generates will slowly be enough. However, there are preventative measures you can take. The first and most important thing is to keep yourself hydrated and give yourself enough time to rest. Multivitamins and protein shakes are often recommended after gastric sleeve. They can also help with fatigue and the feeling of tiredness.

After gastric sleeve chronic fatigue syndrome can occur. It can cause extreme fatigue. And it can last approximately 6 months. If you are experiencing extreme fatigue after gastric sleeve surgery, it is best to consult your healthcare provider to eliminate any underlying medical conditions.

Feeling cold

It is common for people to ask “Why am I always cold after gastric sleeve surgery?” The answer is simple. You now have fewer fat stores in your body to keep you warm. You are also consuming fewer calories, ergo generating less energy. And less energy means less heat.

Since you are eating less, your metabolic rate decreases especially because you are mostly resting during the immediate recovery period. That can also make you feel colder than you did before.

Hair loss

Hair loss is more of a rapid weight loss side effect than a specific side effect of gastric sleeve. Due to certain nutritional deficiencies because of less nutrient consumption, your body may lack iron, biotin, zinc, protein, copper, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. Deficiencies of these vitamins and minerals can cause hair loss after gastric sleeve.

You can consult your dietitian; a dermatologist or a hair specialist about the measures you can take. You can use supplements like biotin tablets and other supplements. They provide the vitamins and minerals your hair needs to grow and stay healthy. It can take between 612 months for your hair to get back to its shape.

High/low blood pressure

Gastric sleeve surgery can cause blood pressure to change temporarily and causes the circulation to also change. As a result, the gastric sleeve patient might experience low blood pressure after gastric sleeve.

To prevent and/or manage low blood pressure, the patient needs to make sure they are hydrated enough. It is important not to skip meals during your recovery. With the additional help of light exercises, the patient can overcome this side effect.

High blood pressure after gastric sleeve can also occur. Obesity can cause high blood pressure and a gastric sleeve can help get rid of it. But sometimes the blood pressure either can increase or does not change after the surgery.

Management of this is basically following the post-op diet. The patient should consume lowsodium food and avoid saturated fats and sugars. Exercise can also help with this situation. All a patient needs to do is stay consistent.

Gastro-Intestinal side effects

Some patients may experience common gastric sleeve surgery side effects, and some patients may not experience most of them. This differs from person to person. Whatever the side effect may be, it should not be a discouragement for the patient. They are extremely normal to occur. And they can be treated or managed pretty easily through proper follow-up appointments.

Gas and bloating

Right after surgery, you will need to release the remaining CO2 blown into you during the gastric sleeve procedure. It can bring discomfort until you release it. In short, gas after gastric sleeve is very common. Your body is going through changes. This can cause gas buildup and, indirectly, bloating.

As your diet changes and you start consuming food that can make you gassy, it can disturb you until you release the gas. To minimize this, you should be eating slowly because when you eat fast, you also swallow air along with the food. If the food is the reason for discomfort, try eating them 1-2 weeks later when your stomach is stronger.

For relief, you can use over-the-counter medicines like simethicone, or probiotics. If the gas pain after gastric sleeve is constant and severe, consult your healthcare provider.


Just like nausea, vomiting after gastric sleeve is expected. If you overeat, you might vomit before experiencing nausea. These are easy to avoid. You will be consuming only clear liquid for a while after the surgery. Half a small glass of broth will make you feel full. As your stomach has an easier time digesting the broth, you will probably not even experience nausea put aside vomiting.

Constipation and diarrhea

Constipation after gastric sleeve surgery can happen because of the temporary disruption to your bowel movements. As your body adjusts to your new diet and eating habits, you can experience constipation for a while. It will fade out gradually as you heal. If the constipation is severe, you can use stool softeners or laxatives to get rid of this side effect, provided you get them under the observance of your healthcare provider.

Diarrhea after gastric sleeve can occur due to the same reasons as constipation. It can also happen if you eat a certain food before you are allowed to have them because either your stomach cannot digest it, or it just passes it without even trying. If it is severe, you can lose lots of fluids in your body. And hydration can be hard to keep track of. In this case, contact your surgeon or dietitian to examine if there are other underlying conditions and/or for proper intervention.

If all this happens after you are allowed to have solid foods that are high-fiber, try to eat them. Stay hydrated, and keep yourself physically active to aid bowel movement.

Other problems related to your stomach

Even though gastric sleeve is a minimally invasive surgery, it is still an abdominal surgery. You will have incisions on your abdomen and both your stomach and abdominal area will be sensitive after the surgery. This might be the reason why you’re having side effects.

Abdominal pain: The abdominal pain after gastric sleeve will pass gradually in time. Other possible causes can be gas pain, infection, or stricture. To minimize the abdominal pain, the patient needs to follow the post-op instructions about nutrition and pain management via medications prescribed to them.

Stomach spasms: Dietary changes and post-op eating habits can trigger stomach spasms after gastric sleeve. This usually occurs within the first week. And should pass after that week. If you are unsure if you are experiencing this, it usually feels like indigestion. However, trying to drink water or other clear liquids when one is experiencing spasms can worsen the situation. All you need to do is rest and give yourself time to heal. It can also be managed via supplements, medications, or in some cases, surgery.

Swollen stomach: Swollen stomach after gastric sleeve may be the most common occurrence. It is not something that happens especially after a gastric sleeve. Swelling can happen after most invasive surgeries. It is the body’s response to injury by sending nutrients to the trauma site via blood. Many ask how long is stomach swollen after the gastric sleeve surgery. It will be mostly reduced in a week or so. And in time, it will resolve and disappear.


(1) Kheirvari M, Dadkhah Nikroo N, Jaafarinejad H, et al. The advantages and disadvantages of sleeve gastrectomy; clinical laboratory to bedside review. Heliyon. 2020;6(2). doi: Link

(2) Felsenreich DM, Bichler C, Langer FB, Gachabayov M, Prager G. Sleeve Gastrectomy: Surgical Technique, Outcomes, and Complications. Surgical Technology International. 2020;36:63-69. Link


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