Sleeve Gastrectomy and the Risk of Bowel Obstruction/Adhesions

June 28, 2014 — by Fernando Garcia
Tags: Gastric Sleeve Complications

A fit older gentleman with a tennis racketWe've written a lot about the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery, from its excellent design to its low maintenance. The results of surgery are routinely excellent, which is why so many patients have come to our Tijuana practice from abroad to have a sleeve gastrectomy performed.

Dr. Fernando Garcia is a realist, though, and wants to patients to understand that while the gastric sleeve surgery is a great option for surgical weight loss, there are risks to keep in mind. We want to use this post to consider the risk of adhesion and bowel obstruction. It would first be helpful to define these terms since they may be unfamiliar to most readers.

What is an adhesion?

Adhesions refer to a band of tissue that forms between internal organs and the abdomen, making these parts of the body stick together.

Most adhesions do not result in major problems, though some, such a those that cause a bowel obstruction, can be quite painful.

How can this lead to bowel obstruction after gastric sleeve surgery?

Abdominal surgery is one of the most common causes of adhesions forming, and when the surgery involves the stomach, the rest of the digestive tract can potentially be affected. Thankfully the risk of bowel obstruction is rare after gastric sleeve.

The Symptoms of Bowel Obstruction

Some common symptoms of bowel obstruction include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

If you have undergone any sort of abdominal surgery, it's important that you be aware of these symptoms should they arise and seek medical attention as soon as possible. In serious obstructions, the blood supply to the intestine may be cut off or you may be suffering from a hole in the intestine.

Treatment Options to Address Bowel Obstructions

In many cases, the bowel obstruction is only partial and will eventually heal itself with time. During the hospital visit, patients have a nasogastric tube placed through the nose leading down into the stomach. The purpose of this is to relive the abdominal pain by removing excess fluid and gas, which are both responsible for heightened pressure. Follow-up care can be performed in order to reduce the blockage.

If the blockage is more significant, surgery is usually performed to relieve the pain and pressure. In the most extreme cases, the damaged part of the intestine may need to be removed.

Prevention of Unwanted Adhesions and Bowel Obstructions

In order to prevent the possibility of a serious complication like a bowel obstruction, Dr. Garcia meticulously plans every procedure. By approaching each surgery methodically and with a well-established plan, complications such as adhesions, bowel obstructions, and leakage of gastric fluid can be avoided.

Patients will have accommodations near the full-service hospital as they recover, allowing for careful monitoring of their recovery during those crucial first days after surgery.

Learn More About Gastric Sleeve Surgery

For more information about gastric sleeve surgery and how it can be beneficial to you and your needs, be sure to contact our bariatric surgery center today. Our entire team is eager to meet you in person to answer all of your questions about bariatric surgery and how it can benefit you.