The gastric sleeve or sleeve gastrectomy is a major bariatric procedure and is performed in a minimally invasive manner. This means that five small 1/2 to 1 inch incisions are created to access the surgical field.
The gastric sleeve works by a process called restriction, meaning that it reduces the amount that the stomach can hold at each sitting. This makes the patient feel fuller sooner. In its infancy, the sleeve surgery was performed as the first stage of a two-stage weight loss surgery.
As the procedure showed excellent results on its own (without patients undergoing the second surgery), it was widely adopted as a stand alone procedure.
How it Works:
During the gastric sleeve procedure, the stomach is divided along greater curvature which allows your surgeon to remove a majority of the stomach. Approximately 70% to 80% of the stomach is removed, leaving a much smaller receptacle. The remaining stomach is shaped like a long thin banana or sleeve, hence the name. The digestive system continues as normal and calories, nutrients and minerals are fully absorbed into the body.
The gastric sleeve procedure also removes the fundus of the stomach which secretes the hunger producing hormone called ghrelin. By removing the fundus, many patients experience a significant reduction in hunger pangs.
Results of the Gastric Sleeve:
The gastric sleeve / sleeve gastrectomy has been shown to allow for significant weight loss and most patients on average agents can expect to lose 55% of excess bodyweight. The procedure also improves many of the diseases associated with morbid obesity including type II diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and others
Health Problem (Comorbidity) Result After Sleeve Gastrectomy
Type 2 Diabetes 56% 7%
High Blood Pressure 49% 29%
High Cholesterol 43% 38%
Obstructive Sleep Apnea 60% 33%
One 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.
Quality of life improvements are a significant though secondary benefit of this procedure. Generally speaking patients report feeling better, having the ability to perform activities they couldn’t when obese, and increased self-confidence.
Shorter hospital stays, faster recovery
Most sleeve gastrectomy procedures are performed in a minimally invasive manner meaning shorter hospital stays and quicker recoveries. On average a sleeve gastrectomy patient will be discharged within 24 to 48 hours after surgery.
Sleeve gastrectomy surgery risks and complications
The sleeve gastrectomy / gastric sleeve is a major surgical procedure and therefore comes with many of the risks of any surgical procedure. There are also risks and considerations specific to the gastric sleeve including:
- The risk of staple line leakage
- The risk of a stretched pouch over the long term
These risks should all be discussed with your healthcare team.