Gastric Sleeve, which is also called vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is considered as one of the most effective weight loss surgeries available for patients suffering from obesity. What makes them so effective? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to understand how the majority of weight loss surgeries work in more detail.
During a bariatric surgery, the size of the stomach, stretched by years of eating too large portions of food, is reduced considerably and its position is adjusted. Some weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bypass, may also involve changing the anatomy of the small intestine, which decreases the number of calories the body can absorb from food.
After the surgery, patients report satiety (feeling full) after eating even a very small amount of food. Their, previously unrestrained, appetite is also lowered thanks to the changes in secretion of the so-called “hunger hormone” – ghrelin.
A Good Candidate for Gastric Sleeve
In order to be qualified for a gastric sleeve surgery, a person’s BMI (Body Mass Index) should be 35 or higher, however, it is also possible to have this procedure when BMI is lower than 35, but the candidate suffers from at least one of the obesity related medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, hypertension or heart disease.
A person who wants to undergo a sleeve gastrectomy surgery, should also remember that the procedure is only the beginning of a long-term process of weight loss. The surgery should serve as motivation for the further work aiming to improve the person’s health, looks and future life.
How is Gastric Sleeve Surgery performed?
In most cases, gastric sleeve surgery is performed using a minimally invasive laparoscopic technique under general anesthesia. During the surgery, a long, thin tube with a light, surgical instruments and a small camera attached to it, is inserted into the patient’s abdomen through a couple of tiny incisions.
Surgeons divide the stomach and remove up to 80 percent of the outer part of the stomach pouch. The rest is stapled and sutured to form a sleeve or banana-shaped new stomach pouch.
The surgery lasts about an hour. Small incisions in the abdomen usually heal quickly and the patient is able to come back home after two or three days after the procedure.
Recommendations after the surgery
After the surgery, a patient is always given a post op diet plan along with the suggested types of physical activities that help to accelerate the process of weight loss. In some cases, because of the decreased absorption of nutrients, the patient is required to take vitamins and mineral supplements. What is more, patients are always asked to attend regular follow-up appointments to monitor the weight loss progress and health condition.
Effectiveness of Gastric Sleeve
It has been proven that patients are able to lose even up to 50 percent of their excess weight within 18 to 24 months following the surgery. It is possible to reduce the excess weight even by 60 to 70 percent.
Risks and Complications
Gastric sleeve complications are usually similar to those experienced after any kind of a surgery performed under general anesthesia. Possible, but rare, side effects specific to gastric sleeve surgery include:
- gastric leaks – stomach fluids leak from the suture line in the patient’s abdomen
- blood clots
- stenosis – a part of the newly formed stomach can close resulting in obstruction.
Among the complications that may occur just after the procedure, there are other possible problems patients may encounter. Weight regain and stomach stretching are probably the most feared long-term complications, but they can be eliminated if a person follows a diet plan and exercise recommendations. Gastric sleeve scars as well as the excessive skin, that is a consequence of losing more than 50 percent of the excess body weight, can be removed if a patient decides to undergo a plastic surgery. In some cases, patients may experience vitamin and nutrients deficiency. That is why, it is advised to take supplements and attend the monitoring visits.
New Eating Habits after Gastric Sleeve
There are special post op recommendations for patients after the surgery. During the first day after the procedure, they are allowed to drink clear liquids. Then, their diet for four weeks should include only pureed food and protein shakes. After the first month, patients start a diet plan which is individually prepared for them. It is also important to remember that in order to maintain the long-term weight loss effects, patients need to change the way they eat for the rest of their lives.
Other recommendations include drinking liquids after the meal, not during eating, to prevent stomach from stretching. It is also important to chew each bite slowly before it can be swallowed. Snacks and high-calorie foods should also be avoided.
Alternatives to Gastric Sleeve
There are various other types of weight loss surgeries including gastric balloon, gastric bypass, gastric banding and others.
Gastric balloon is a non-surgical procedure that involves placing a soft silicon balloon in the stomach pouch, which serves as a stomach filler. The procedure is temporary and the balloon needs to be removed after several months when the patient achieves the ideal weight.
Gastric bypass is more invasive and irreversible as it involves both the change of the stomach size and reordering of the small intestine to connect the new bypassed stomach to the rest of the digestive tract.
Gastric banding is a procedure where a soft silicon band is placed around the upper part of the stomach. It can be tightened or loosened using the saline water. The band reduces the size of the stomach and is recommended for people who cannot be qualified for other, more invasive bariatric procedures due to the high risk of possible complications.
The choice of the best weight loss procedure is always a result of thorough surgical consultations and the assessment of the overall patient’s health. Gastric sleeve is definitely and option worth considering for people with obesity who cannot find another effective way to lose weight and improve their health.