Gastric Sleeve

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Obese individuals who have not been successful at losing weight through diet and exercise may be candidates for gastric sleeve surgery.

What is gastric sleeve?

Gastric sleeve is usually performed laparoscopically through a series of 4 to 5 small incisions in the abdomen, allowing a small camera and instruments to be passed through the incision sites.

During the gastric sleeve procedure, 75-80 percent of the stomach is removed. This reduces the size of the stomach to a narrow tube, or sleeve. The small intestine and pyloric valve (the tissue band that keeps food from flowing backwards) are left intact.

Surgery typically takes from 1-3 hours.

The surgery reduces the size of the stomach, requiring only a small amount of food to produce a feeling of fullness. The fundus of the stomach –the portion that produces Ghrelin, a hunger-feeling hormone – is also removed.

Like any laparoscopic procedure, there is a small chance the surgeon may need to convert to an open procedure and rarely bleeding, infection, or damage to adjacent organs may occur.

Who is a candidate for gastric sleeve?

The gastric sleeve procedure is a surgical weight loss solution reserved for those who are clinically obese as determined by a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. It may be done as a stand-alone surgery or as part of a 2-stage approach. The first stage is the gastric sleeve, followed by gastric bypass after the patient achieves significant weight loss. The 2-stage procedure is typically used for patients with very high BMI (often 60 or higher) or those for whom a lengthy surgery could be risky.

Advantages of gastric sleeve

There are a number of advantages to choosing gastric sleeve over other types of weight loss surgeries. These include:

  • Reduced surgery times
  • Less complex than many other weight loss surgeries
  • Since the intestines are not bypassed, the surgery doesn’t cause nutritional deficiencies
  • Preserves the pyloric valve and avoids dumping syndrome
  • Some patients lose up to 70 percent of excess weight during the first year
  • May help to improve weight-related health issues

Disadvantages of gastric sleeve

Although many individuals that undergo gastric sleeve procedures are very happy with the results, there are some disadvantages that patients should be aware of, including:

  • Gastric sleeve surgery is not reversible
  • Some patients experience digestive issues after the procedure
  • Supplements are recommended

Individuals considering weight loss surgery should speak to their doctors about the various options and which one is right for them. It is also recommended that patients consult their insurance company prior to surgery, since not all procedures are covered by every insurer.