My Gastric Sleeve Complications Story

by NI
(Tuscaloosa, AL)

Also Read: You may expect immediate results after gastric sleeve surgery, but firstly you will have to go through gastric sleeve recovery time and all the procedures it involves.

Hello,

I am 3 months and 1 week post op gastric sleeve. I have had many complications. I regret having this surgery because I’m sick every day.

I was doing good for the first month or month and a half. I started walking a lot and the weight came off fast. Then I started having trouble eating and drinking. Had severe pain and nausea. Did not eat for over a month. Did not drink for a week. Went to the ER and was hospitalized with malnutrition, low potassium and magnesium and, dehydration. Was not taking vitamins during the month of not eating because I would throw them up. I was throwing up every day while in the hospital. Since I had nothing on my stomach, I was only throwing up bile. I felt so bad. After 1 week I was finally diagnosed with gallbladder issues. Went to surgery to get it removed and was released from the hospital the next day.

Problem is I still felt awful and could not eat or drink. I was still throwing up bile. Couldn’t keep anything down and in extreme pain at the surgical site. I had to have help doing everything. Finally, I went back to the ER and was admitted a second time for another week. The smell of food made me throw up. The doctor said he ordered every test he could think up and everything looked fine except for the MRI which showed a collection of fluid at the surgical site. No treatment. I was given so much IV fluid that I became swollen everywhere. I had to complain several times to each nurse before they told the doctor. I was put on lasix for fluid. Was given 3 tap water enemas, protonix, zofran. My legs, part of vaginal area, parts of arms are numb and have been since my hospital stay.

I have been home from the hospital for a week and a few days and my body is still numb. It doesn’t affect me walking but I have night sweats on my legs only at night. I am scared and don’t know what is going on. My doctor drew blood last week to check for abnormal levels but no results yet. Four days ago, I stopped eating. Couldn’t eat. Realized I was constipated so I took 2 five mg dulcolax suppositories and one colace around 5pm. No results so the next day I took one more dulcolax and one more colace. I started throwing up bile again and got very, very sick. Today I am still not able to eat but force myself to drink water and a Powerade.

I’m scared and just feel like if I don’t get this under control I could lose my life. Tried some soup today but was only to take 4 sips of it. Before I was able to eat way more. I can’t eat at all now. Only drink. I have not had any protein in a month and a half which is when all my problems began. Any advice? What should I do? I’m so stressed about it.

Nl
Tuscaloosa, AL

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Surgeon Response to "My Gastric Sleeve Complications Story"

by: John Rabkin, M.D., Pacific Laparoscopy

Dear "NI in Tuscaloosa, AL,"

Your post Verticle Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) recovery has certainly NOT been smooth! It is uncommon (but not unheard of) in my experience for patients to have this set of symptoms following the procedure.

First and foremost, although you didn't state explicitly that you are continuing under the care of and working closely with your bariatric surgeon/surgical team, I assume that to be the case. IF not, I'd strongly recommend that you contact them IMMEDIATELY. Often, if patients are not closely followed by their bariatric providers and attempt to have their care delivered by their local care providers, important issues may be overlooked and unnecessary difficulties may arise.

The next step in your urgent care would be to ensure that you are adequately hydrating: if you're unable to adequately hydrate, you won't be able to eat and/or continue your post operative recovery. Your use of a balanced electrolyte solution like Powerade as you've outlined is a good start. You may also benefit from a small amount of sugar to assist in feeling better so that you can break a cycle of illness and resultant dehydration prolonging your infirmity.

Your thought of lack of protein intake for the past three months also contributing to your symptoms is also on point: if you've become so malnourished over the three months since your procedure, you may even need parenteral nutrition (ie: 'food by vein') for a period of time to feel well enough to get 'back on tract' to nourish orally. This would initially need to be pursued in an inpatient environment requiring re-hospitalization. You may also by this time have some vitamin and mineral deficiencies contributing to your symptoms: these should be looked for and supplemented as appropriate.

Some patients have previously unrecognized/undiagnosed gastrointestinal motility disorders such as esophageal motility dysfunction and/or swallowing disorders that first become evident after the VSG. The 'high pressure' nature of the VSG along with potential worsened esophageal reflux may trigger these disorders to manifest themselves when previously (pre-operatively) quiescent.

This requires expert evaluation typically by neuro-gastroenterologists with expertise in these types of disorders. Swallowing evaluations, esophageal manometry, upper GI endoscopy as well as potentially other investigations all may be of value is assessing the root cause of your current symptoms. Once diagnosed, pharmacologic therapy (medications) can often help.

Even in the absence of a recognized gastrointestinal dysmotility disorder, medications may offer substantial benefits. These would include:

    • proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) such as Protonix or Carafate
    • anti-emetics such as Zofran or Compazine
    • agents to relax the esophagus if in spasm such as Nifedipine
    • pro-motility agents like Reglan

All of these potential interventions should be considered in your case to evaluate their potential contribution to your overall recovery.

In my experience, the few patients I have cared for who have suffered post operative courses similar to that which you've described have all ultimately recovered and are pleased with their overall results of their Weight Loss Surgery (WLS.)

They are uniformly thankful (without regret) that they'd undergone WLS to address their underlying morbid obesity. Once they'd gotten past their initial post-operative difficulties, they've enjoyed the health benefits accrued from the dramatic beneficial weight loss from the WLS. Consequently, I'd recommend that you focus on addressing these issues you currently face with the promise and conviction that you will soon be free not only of these symptoms, but also from the obesity which has been troubling you for a far longer time!

John M. Rabkin, M.D.
Pacific Laparoscopy

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DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

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by: Angie

My question is my daughter is a month out after having the gastric sleeve. She has started throwing up continuously. After going to the doctor and having her blood panels done the results are everything good accept her white blood count is seriously low (critical she was told) and her B12 levels are extremely high.

She has been missing lots of work from bring so sick. She was proscribed nausea medication but what would be some things that might be getting overlooked or that maybe one could ask to be checked that would cause these problems. I have already asked for her gallbladder to be checked.

Just not sure about the white blood count issue and the B12 issue.

Gastric sleeve - poor recovery

by: Julia

Hi, I am 2 weeks and 2 days post op gastric sleeve surgery. The day after surgery I fell well but since returning home I have been readmitted to hospital for severe dehydration which resulted in me having fluids and anti sick medication via a drip.

Once home it seemed better and I was able to have fluids orally, little but often. A few days ago I started feeling very sick and subsequently I am now being sick although nothing really is coming up except the fluids I have drunk plus bile. I am unable to take my medication as the thought makes me heave, my dietician have been amazing contacting me regular with loads of support and advice, today I have received some boxes of high protein jellies to try and sachets of fruits that I can either water down or take direct. I was heaving looking at the boxes, let along try them.

I generally feel awful and at the moment I am struggling to see that light at the end of the tunnel.

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