Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Guide & FAQs

Gastric Sleeve surgery is among the most restrictive surgeries frequently used in the United States to reverse and control morbid obesity. The process has become more popular over recent years as a first choice for weight loss. Though the surgery is among the newest in restrictive weight loss surgeries, it has proved to be one that has one of the highest success rates and speed in weight loss results.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

With Gastric Sleeve surgery:

Are You A Candidate for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Ideally any individual who is over the age of 18 years old and unable to lose weight the conventional way is a candidate. A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more or 35 or more with a comorbidity such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and Type II Diabetes may also qualify. Individuals who choose to endure gastric sleeve surgery must remain dedicated to their lifestyle change in order to keep the weight off.

You’re likely a great candidate for this bariatric surgery if you have tried diet plans and had little to no success. It’s important to remember that good nutrition and an active lifestyle is a lifetime commitment for your health. The surgery helps with portion sizes as it only allows you eat a certain amount of food at a time, but in order to keep the momentum going, you have to be willing to continue the plan for a lifetime. Think to yourself — Am I able to implement dietary changes and stay on path? Discuss your particular situation with a bariatric surgeon in order to understand the full benefits of gastric sleeve surgery.

How Gastric Sleeve Surgery Works

The surgery is laparoscopic in nature by making five little incisions on the abdomen of the patient. These are used to pass trocars through, which are used in turn to insert the insert the instruments and scope needed to complete the work. The surgeon will create a small stomach by stapling the larger stomach down a size that is approximately 75% smaller than the original. The new smaller stomach will be shaped like a sleeve and will already be attached to the inlet and outlet for the stomach. The hunger of the patient will be reduced because the portion of the stomach that contains ghrelin, the hunger hormone, will be removed.

Related: Average Costs of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Amount of Weight Loss to Expect

The amount of weight loss that you can expect from Gastric Sleeve differs from patient to patient. This said, there is a general progression of weight loss as time progresses after the surgery. Within the first year after the surgery most patients experience a weight loss of between 30% and 50% of the excess weight. In the second year following the surgery most patients can expect to lose between 60% and 70% of the excess weight and during the third year patients often experience an approximate 70% of weight loss of excess weight. Ultimately, gastric sleeve patients can expect a 30% drop in their body mass index number.

Related: Expected Weight Loss of Gastric Sleeve

Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Ultimately gastric sleeve surgery is not just associated with short term weight loss, but ongoing weight loss. The weight loss surgery is designed not only to aid in weight loss, but to help patients keep the weight off by controlling their portion sizes. According to a study by Stanford University, just .96% of bariatric surgery patients experienced any complication at all with gastric sleeve surgery. The study looked at 16,000 different gastric sleeve patients in a pool of 270,000 bariatric surgery and metabolic patients. The same study found that the mortality rate for this surgical procedure was just .08% after 30 days. While the overall mortality rate for most weight loss surgeries is low (.14%), sleeve gastrectomy mortality rate numbers are much lower than that low average.

See: Risks of Gastric Sleeve

Most of the patients who had gastric sleeve surgery were suffering from obesity-related medical conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol, Type II Diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease. Approximately 45-58% of all patients studied saw complete remission of their diabetes, 77% resolution with their high blood pressure and 77% of patients with their high cholesterol. Nearly 60% of all patients experienced total resolution of their obstructive sleep apnea.

Ultimately all of these benefits are long term. Many patients report keeping the weight they lost off 10-15 years following their procedure. Overall, these long term studies are proving the fact that gastric sleeve can provide patients the ability to lose weight gradually and in a healthy way while helping them maintain their weight in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gastric Sleeve

  • Is Gastric Sleeve surgery reversible?

    According to WebMD, because this weight loss surgery doesn’t involve rerouting or reconfiguring the intestines, there is no need for it to ever be reversed. Gastric sleeve surgery is considered one of the safest surgical procedure available for weight loss procedures and is the least invasive of all weight loss surgery options. 
  • Who is Gastric Sleeve Surgery not recommended for?

    According to WakeMed Health & Hospitals, gastric sleeve surgery may not be great for Crohn’s Disease patients, those with a gastrointestinal tract condition, inflammatory disease or ulcers. Also, those with bleeding in the stomach and esophagus may also not be able to have gastric sleeve. Also those with an abnormal stomach or intestine or who has pancreatitis or cirrhosis may not qualify either. 
  • What are some risks and complications associated with Gastric Sleeve?

    According to the National Institutes of Health, there are some risks and complications associated with gastric sleeve surgery. Some of these risks or complications include: deep vein thrombosis, vomiting, nausea, blood loss, heart attack, stroke, blood loss, bladder infection, kidney or lung infections, bowel blockage and poor nutrition.

    Related: Complications and Risks of Gastric Sleeve

  • Is Gastric Sleeve surgery expensive and will insurance cover it?

    Yes! Many insurance companies do in fact cover weight loss surgery especially if the patient has comorbidities that may contribute to future health problems. The insurer may choose to cover all or a portion of the cost of gastric sleeve surgery. Your surgeon can help you learn if your surgery is a covered benefit. In many instances, a patient must document previous weight loss attempts as well as their health conditions that are associated with their obesity.

    Related: Costs, Insurance of Weight Loss Surgery

  • What tests are done before Gastric Sleeve surgery?

    Many tests are done before surgery to help avoid any complications. A psychological evaluation is one of the first things done. A full physical, EKG, complete blood count, urine test, sleep study, GI evaluation, cardiology evaluation, pulmonary function test and gallbladder ultrasound looking for gallstones are all common tests done before Gastric sleeve surgery.
  • How long will I be in the hospital after surgery?

    Most gastric sleeve patients stay in the hospital for 2-3 days following their surgery. This number can vary depending on that particular patient’s health and also if any complications or symptoms arise. 
  • What kind of follow-up can I expect with Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

    According to the Center for Metabolic Health and Bariatric Surgery at Brigham & Women’s and Faulkner Hospitals, patients will need to follow up both with their surgeon and a dietician to see the most benefits from Gastric Sleeve surgery. A special diet will begin immediately following surgery. The first stage of this diet is all liquids then semi-solid foods are introduced and later solid foods. This all occurs during a 6-8 week time range. Patients are encouraged to eat several small meals a day, each meal with a protein. 2 quarts of water is recommended for consumption each day too. As the patient heals gradually, they can begin to exercise for at least a half hour a day as well as 3-4 days of resistance training.

    Related: Expect After-Care Following Gastric Sleeve

  • Will I be taking more vitamins after surgery?

    According to the West Penn Allegheny Medical System, a multivitamin twice daily as well as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, calcium and iron are all recommended daily for a patient’s every day for the rest of their life. 1,000-1,500 mg of calcium should be taken daily. Also, please note that when taking iron, always take it at least two hours apart from the calcium supplement and always with food. A monthly B12 shot may also be a good idea for gastric sleeve patients. 1,000 IU of Vitamin D is recommended for gastric sleeve patients. Also, for the first three months following surgery, chewable vitamins are recommended. A patient can switch to non-chewable if they choose to do so after the 3 month mark. 
  • Will I need plastic surgery after my Gastric Sleeve surgery?

    It isn’t uncommon for gastric sleeve patients to want to have plastic surgery following their weight loss. Many patients opt for body lift surgery or arm lift surgery to get a more shapely profile free of the excess skin. This all depends on the person’s weight loss and the person’s overall fat content. Not all patients need plastic surgery following excessive weight loss. It is recommended that you wait 12-18 months following surgery to have any plastic surgery procedures. 
  • Will I lose my hair?

    Not every patient does. According to the University of Missouri Health System, if a gastric sleeve patients do not get enough protein after weight loss surgery then protein malnutrition can occur causing hair loss. Take protein supplements to help supplement the deficiency and to lower the risk of hair loss. 
  • When can I take a shower or bath?

    Most patients may shower and use soap immediately after surgery. Also be sure to pat your surgical incisions dry after showering. It is not advisable to take a bath or emerge fully in water for at least one month after surgery. Check with your surgeon before changing your bathing routine at that time mark. 
  • When can I drive?

    Patients may drive after they have no pain and/or don’t use their pain medication anymore. This usually occurs a few weeks following gastric sleeve surgery. 
  • Can I take my regular medicine?

    According to WebMD, many medicines are safe after gastric sleeve surgery. Some of these medications include: Peri-colace, Claritin, Milk of Magnesia, Robitussin, Sudafed, Tylenol, Dimetapp, Benadryl, Tylenol Cold, Gas-X, Imodium, Dulcolax and Phazyme. 

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