The gastric sleeve—also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy or sleeve gastrectomy—is the most popular weight loss surgery procedure in the United States, having surpassed the gastric bypass in 2013, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Nearly two-thirds of all bariatric procedures performed in 2017 were sleeve gastrectomies. There’s a good reason for the gastric sleeve’s popularity: It works.
With a sleeve gastrectomy, about 80 percent of the stomach is removed, leaving a stomach that is roughly the size and shape of a banana. It can hold less food, so people who have a gastric sleeve eat less and ingest fewer calories.
Perhaps even more important, cells that make the hormone ghrelin are removed during the procedure. Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced to signal hunger, so not only do people with a sleeve gastrectomy eat less, but they also feel less hungry, making it easier to keep the weight off.
To view one of our recently published articles on reduction of obesity-related comorbidities after sleeve gastrectomy, Click Here »
Who Is a Candidate for a Gastric Sleeve?
To be considered for a sleeve gastrectomy, candidates must meet one of the following criteria:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater
- Have a BMI of 35 or greater AND an obesity-related comorbidity such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes or sleep apnea
How Is a Sleeve Gastrectomy Performed?
A sleeve gastrectomy is considered a restrictive surgery. “Restrictive” means that it limits the amount of food and calories that can be consumed. It differs from a malabsorptive procedure, which limits the number of calories that the body absorbs.
A gastric sleeve is a minimally invasive procedure performed laparoscopically, with small tools, using comparatively small incisions and a flexible camera attached to a video monitor. It is a fairly simple procedure, generally taking less than two hours. The surgeon removes a large portion of the stomach, then closes it with surgical staples to create a banana-sized and -shaped pouch.
Advantages of a Sleeve Gastrectomy
A gastric sleeve provides a number of advantages over other types of bariatric surgery. The biggest advantage is the removal of cells that produce ghrelin, but it has many other benefits, including:
- No prostheses or medical devices necessary
- Allows for normal stomach function
- Leaves intestines intact
Additionally, a laparoscopic procedure is preferable to traditional open surgery for many patients in many situations. Advantages of laparoscopic surgery include:
- Smaller incisions
- Shorter recovery time
- Less pain
- Less chance of complications
Preparing for Gastric Sleeve Surgery
At Advanced Surgeons, by the time you’re rolled into the operating room you will have done a large amount of prep work and you will be completely educated on all aspects of your surgery. Once it is determined that you are a good candidate, the first step will be attending our free informational seminar or webinar, where you’ll learn about how to prepare and what goes on during your procedure.
You also may need a number of tests prior to your surgery. These can include:
- Blood tests
- Chest X-rays
- Heart function tests
- Liver function tests
- Lung function tests
- …and possibly others
Research suggests that losing weight prior to bariatric surgery can improve the surgical outcome—quicker operations, shorter hospital stays and more weight lost. Your surgeon may recommend a low-calorie diet in the weeks before your surgery.
You’ll have to fast for at least eight hours before the surgery to minimize the effects of general anesthesia.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery and Results
Weight comes off rapidly and usually stays off after a sleeve gastrectomy. Up to 70 percent of excess weight can be shed by a year after the surgery, and five years later about 60 percent of excess weight can stay off. Diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea all improve in most patients.
A full gastric sleeve recovery is usually achieved in about three months. Pain will be noticeable immediately after the surgery but will drop off over six to eight weeks. Patients will be on a specialized liquid diet for about eight weeks before solid food is reintroduced. After 30 days a surgeon may clear you for increased activity, but it depends on your pre-surgery fitness levels—very deconditioned people may need more rest time.
Support is crucial after bariatric surgery of any type. At Advanced Surgeons, we have dieticians and other clinical staff available to support you and ensure your weight loss goes according to plan. We can connect you with peer support groups as well. And, our surgeons are always happy to meet with former patients about their surgery, their recovery and any concerns they may have.
If you are considering a sleeve gastrectomy, request an appointment with Advanced Surgeons. Our surgeons are pioneers in the fields of bariatric and robotic surgery, and we have a team of experts on hand to guide you every step of the way, from initial consultation to recovery and beyond.