What is sleeve gastrectomy?

Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as "sleeve," is a surgery in which the stomach is permanently reduced to 15 – 25% of its original size, leaving a banana-shaped portion that has both restrictive and malabsorptive qualities to effect weight loss.

How is a sleeve gastrectomy different from gastric bypass surgery?

The sleeve is technically simpler than the gastric bypass. Instead of rearranging the anatomy of the patient’s stomach and small intestine as is done with the gastric bypass, the stomach is resized to affect weight loss.

How effective is sleeve gastrectomy surgery?

Patients who have the sleeve procedure and follow the other program requirements typically lose up to 65% of their excess body weight. They also improve or eliminate many obesity-related issues such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleep apnea

In the long term, the majority are able to successfully keep off at least 50% of their excess body weight.

How long is the recovery process after a sleeve gastrectomy?

The operation is performed through several small incisions, effectively decreasing the risk of potential complications, post-operative pain, and time until the patient can return to work and other activities.

Patients will need time off of work to devote to developing durable, healthy eating habits as they adjust to their new anatomy. With that said, the pain associated with the surgery is generally mild and adequately treated with short courses of pain medications.

Will I have to change what I eat after a sleeve gastrectomy?

Absolutely! Perhaps more important than the actual operation is the pre-operative education that patients experience. We try to teach our patients about a healthy diet. We want everyone to understand what a gram of carbohydrate, protein, and fat are and in what combinations we should be eating them. We know that there is a finite timeframe during which the patient will lose weight at a greater rate than a normal individual.

The key is to develop healthy, sustainable eating habits that will help the patient to maintain this weight loss after the body has adjusted to the operation.

What are the risks of sleeve gastrectomy surgery?

No surgery is without potential complications. With that said, the introduction of laparoscopy to the field of bariatric surgery has revolutionized not just the efficacy, but also the risk posed to the patient.

The data from over 60,000 patients nationwide shows that the risk of death is 0.1%, which is less than a gallbladder operation or a hip replacement surgery. Furthermore, there is good data that there is up to an 89% reduction in mortality in those individuals who have surgery than in a cohort who does not due to the many obesity-associated medical problems that are addressed with weight loss surgery.

Bariatric surgeon Jessica Smith, MD discusses laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
Last reviewed: 
June 2018

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