Gastric Sleeve


How a sleeve gastrectomy works to help you lose weight

During this procedure, a thin vertical sleeve of stomach is created using a stapling device, and the rest of the stomach is removed. The sleeve is about the size of a banana. This procedure limits the amount of food you can eat and helps you feel full sooner. It allows for normal digestion and absorption. Food consumed passes through the digestive tract in the usual order, allowing it to be fully absorbed in the body.

The sleeve gastrectomy procedure

The majority of weight loss sleeve gastrectomies performed today use a laparoscopic technique, which is considered minimally invasive. Laparoscopic surgery usually results in a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, smaller scars, and less pain than open surgical procedures.

The length of time of the surgery varies. One study found that the average operative time was 1.5 to 3.5 hours and the average hospital stay was 2 to 5 days.  Patients usually return to normal activities in 2 weeks and are fully recovered in 3 weeks.

Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy can be the first step before gastric bypass or it can be a single procedure for weight loss. If a sleeve gastrectomy is used as part of a two-step procedure, the first step is for the surgeon to create the small stomach “sleeve.” After a period of time determined by the surgeon, another procedure would be done in which the surgeon attaches a section of the small intestine directly to the stomach pouch. This allows food to bypass a portion of the small intestine. Doing so enables your body to absorb fewer calories, in addition to consuming less food. This two-step procedure may be done because patients may not be able to tolerate both procedures during a single operation. Studies show that the two-step procedure has been used successfully in patients with a body mass index greater than 50 or in high-risk patients.

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery benefits

Improvements in health, quality of life, and, of course, significant weight loss are important bariatric surgery benefits. The information below provides greater detail about these benefits and will help you understand how sleeve gastrectomy can help you achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

Significant weight loss health benefits

Studies have demonstrated that patients lost an average of 55% of their excess weight.

Table 1: Health Improvements After Sleeve GastrectomyA clinical study on sleeve gastrectomy showed the following health benefits.
Health Problem (Comorbidity) Result After Sleeve Gastrectomy
Resolved Improved
Type 2 Diabetes 56% 37%
High Blood Pressure 49% 29%
High Cholesterol 43% 38%
Obstructive Sleep Apnea 60% 33%

Shorter hospital stays, faster recovery

The majority of sleeve gastrectomy procedures are performed using a laparoscopic technique. Laparoscopic (minimally invasive) surgery results in a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, smaller scars, and less pain than open surgical procedures.

Cost savings over time

A recent study showed that expenses associated with bariatric surgery were recouped in about 2 years. One important reason is that weight loss surgery may help to improve or resolve conditions associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, so patients save money on related prescription drugs, doctor visits, and hospital visits.11 In addition, monthly savings associated with laparoscopic bariatric surgery reach more than $900 as early as 13 months following surgery.

A reduction in cravings for sweets

A clinical study showed that 50% of patients who had a sleeve gastrectomy procedure lost their craving for sweets after 1 year, and after 3 years 23% still experienced a loss of cravings for sweets. In addition, the level of a hormone called ghrelin, which has been described as a hunger-regulating hormone, was found to be significantly reduced after sleeve gastrectomy surgery.

Quality-of-life improvements

Clinical studies of laparoscopic bariatric surgery patients found that they felt better, spent more time doing recreational and physical activities, benefited from enhanced productivity and economic opportunities, and had more self-confidence than they did prior to surgery.

As you can see, a sleeve gastrectomy procedure may have many benefits. However, it isn’t for everyone. Only you and your surgeon can decide if bariatric surgery is an appropriate treatment option for you. Learn more about eligibility for sleeve gastrectomy.

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