Key Points about Gastric Sleeve Surgery

  • Gastric sleeve surgery is a procedure that removes up to 80 percent of your stomach and makes a narrow tube or “sleeve” out of the rest to assist in weight loss. 
  • After having the procedure, your appetite decreases, and you feel full after eating only a little amount of food. This helps you lose weight. 
  • The gastric sleeve procedure is now the most common bariatric surgery performed worldwide.
  • People who undergo gastric sleeve surgery can expect to lose 60 to 70 percent of their extra body weight in the year following surgery.

Overview

Compared to a gastric bypass procedure, those who undergo a gastric sleeve have a much lower chance of nutrient or vitamin deficiency. The gastric sleeve surgery is also a simpler, quicker surgery than the gastric bypass.

There are many reasons why a doctor will consider gastric sleeve surgery, including:

  • Are you healthy enough to undergo surgery?
  • Can you stick to a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet after the procedure?
  • Do you have a support team in place to help you throughout your weight loss journey?
  • Do you have serious medical conditions as a result of being overweight?
  • Is your body mass index (BMI) 40 or higher?

Candidates for gastric sleeve surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery is a treatment for obesity or being severely overweight. Most people who undergo gastric sleeve surgery have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, and many also have other medical conditions such as diabetes.

Like all types of bariatric surgery, gastric sleeve surgery is a tool that can help you lose weight – but it is not a quick fix. Undergoing gastric sleeve surgery means that you are committing to radically changing your life. Those who undergo gastric sleeve surgery should not have any dependencies on drugs or alcohol, as these issues can make your chances for long-term success much lower.

People who undergo gastric sleeve surgery are those who have tried and been unsuccessful in losing weight with medically supervised diet and exercise.

Risks associated with gastric sleeve surgery

The risks associated with gastric sleeve surgery can be more serious than other weight loss surgeries, but generally complications are rare. Risks can include:

  • Leakages around the stitches or surgical glue
  • Sepsis
  • Bleeding
  • Vitamin deficiencies

Expectations for gastric sleeve surgery

During the gastric sleeve procedure, you will be under general anesthesia (fully asleep). Your surgeon begins by making five small incisions in your abdomen. The surgeon uses a tiny specialized surgical camera (inserted through one of the incisions) to help guide the procedure. 

Your surgeon inserts a narrow plastic tube into your stomach, which serves as the guide for your new stomach. Your surgeon closes around the tube and removes the rest (roughly 75 to 80 percent) of your stomach. Your surgeon then closes your incisions with stitches or surgical glue. The entire procedure usually takes about an hour.

Recovery from after gastric sleeve surgery

You can expect to stay in the hospital for one or two nights after surgery. During your hospital stay, you will increasingly gain more strength and your health care team will ask you to complete tasks such as sitting on your bed or walking a short distance. You should try to do as much as you are able, but take breaks when needed.

In most cases, you can expect to return to work or school roughly two to four weeks after surgery. Depending on the demands of your job, you may be able to work from home a couple of days a week sooner than this. Most people will begin a regular exercise program about four weeks after gastric sleeve surgery.

Bariatric Diet

For your health and long-term success, you must stick to your prescribed post-surgical diet plan:

Day 1, you will only drink clear liquids.

Days 2 to 14, you will use only liquids, including protein shakes, broth, yogurt, or milk.

Weeks 3 to 5, you will eat liquids and soft foods.

Beyond Week 5, you will begin to incorporate foods from the bariatric diet into your daily eating habits. Your diet will focus on high-protein, low-carb options, with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eating large quantities of foods or sugary or processed foods will compromise your gastric band and could even be dangerous to your health. 

Most people continue to lose weight for 12 to 24 months after surgery.

When should I seek care?

If you think that you may be a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss, start by speaking with your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a bariatric provider for more specialized treatment.