When you choose to get bariatric surgery, you’re choosing more than weight loss; you’re choosing a healthier lifestyle, a life without concerning conditions, and a life free from the worries of obesity. It’s a decision you should take great pride in, but the next crucial step is finding the right procedure that can help you achieve the goals you value most. One procedure in particular, gastric sleeve surgery, is making a name for itself as an effective way for patients to improve their health and lose weight safely.
Gastric sleeve surgery was essentially discovered by surgeons performing duodenal switch (DS) surgery. In the two-step surgery, the stomach was narrowed by excising part of the stomach; some time later, another surgery was performed to create a bypass.
But surgeons found that patients were losing an incredible amount of weight (and keeping it off) right after the first surgery. Thus, gastric sleeve surgery was created.
To perform gastric sleeve surgery, the surgeon creates a few small incisions on the stomach. Some tools and a video camera are inserted into the body through the incision, and then the surgeon staples the stomach to create a narrow sleeve. Once the sleeve is closed off by the staples, the rest of the stomach tissue is removed.
In addition to its truly innovative technique, gastric sleeve surgery is remarkable for a number of reasons:
Gastric sleeve surgery was simpler and faster to perform than other bariatric treatments, but surgeons also liked it because is had a low rate of complications. The longer the procedure is, the riskier it becomes, so gastric sleeve allowed surgeons to perform an effective weight loss treatment while ensuring the patient’s safety.
It goes without saying that a narrower stomach meant patients had to limit their eating, but with gastric sleeve surgery, there was another biological mechanism at play that helped patients curb their appetites: the hormone ghrelin. Surgeons found that the section of the stomach removed during surgery was responsible for producing ghrelin, the hunger-inducing hormone. With that section removed, gastric sleeve patients were finding that their hunger had curbed considerably after the surgery, and they were able to lose a substantial amount of weight even a year after the procedure.
Gastric sleeve might be a recent discovery, but its results are backed by science. Studies have shown that, in a year, gastric sleeve patients could lose up to 70% of their excess weight. That’s comparable to other bariatric surgeries like lap band (where the majority of weight loss happens over three years) or even gastric bypass (which could result in substantial weight loss in just a year).
Of course, as with any bariatric procedure, gastric sleeve surgery recipients will need to stick healthy lifestyle choices that includes a diet and regular exercise.
Dumping is one of the most common (and also frustrating) side effects of bariatric surgery. Dumping is an unpleasant physical reaction to undigested food becoming lodged in the small intestines. Thankfully, patients who underwent gastric sleeve don’t have to experience dumping because the pylorus, the part of the stomach that regulates the dumping response, is left intact.
Patients and surgeons alike quite like the fact that gastric sleeve is a one-and-done treatment. Other treatments such as lap band surgery require further adjustments over time to keep narrowing the stomach.
Lap band surgery will put an adjustable silicone band around the stomach, but with the gastric sleeve, there’s no foreign object or implant of any kind—it’s just the patient’s stomach.
Insurance companies decided to cover gastric sleeve surgery in 2010 because of its high margin of safety and its effectiveness as a weight loss procedure. Today, almost every major insurance company covers this procedure to some degree.
Obesity is more than an aesthetic problem, it’s a serious health condition that can exacerbate or lead to a number of other diseases:
That’s why the gastric sleeve does more than help patients lose weight—it can help patients finally find peace of mind by treating diseases that have troubled them all their lives.
While we hope this guide has helped you understand the basics of gastric sleeve surgery, the best way to find out if it’s right for you is by consulting with an experienced weight-loss surgeon like Dr. Rami Lutfi. Dr. Lutfi, a board-certified surgeon that specializes in bariatric surgery, can give you all the tools you need to find the right path to a healthier, happier you.