A gastric sleeve is one of many bariatric surgeries successful at achieving rapid weight loss among obese patients. As tempting as it sounds to get surgery to achieve your weight loss goals, it’s hardly that simple.
Bariatric surgeries are often used as a last resort after conventional methods of weight loss, such as diet and exercise have failed. It is also only considered when you meet specific qualifications due to obesity becoming life threatening.
There are numerous post-op requirements that you will be confined to, like dietary restrictions, physical activity and bariatric supplements.
Simply put, bariatric surgery is not a quick fix.
This article focuses on gastric sleeve surgery, what to expect during post-op care, benefits and risks that are associated with the surgery.
What is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Much like gastric bypass surgery, gastric sleeve surgery involves making alterations to the digestive tract. During the operation, about 75% of the stomach is removed leaving a “sleeve” resembling the size and shape of a banana. This new stomach tube holds a smaller amount of food compared to the normal stomach size. The surgery can take 1-2 hours.
Gastric sleeve surgery decreases the size of the stomach, resulting in changes to gut hormones that stimulate appetite.
The 'sleeve’ will only be able to hold around 2-3 ounces.
The aim of this surgery is rapid weight loss due to decreasing appetite and caloric restriction.
The procedure is permanent and you might be hospitalized for around 3 to 4 days, depending on the success of surgery.
Qualifications for Gastric Sleeve Surgery
You must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for gastric sleeve surgery. The criteria may differ based on the doctor, policies held by the practice, and type of insurance.
Generally, the qualifications include:
- A BMI greater than 40 OR
- A BMI of 35 to 39 with obesity-related comorbidities
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
As mentioned, the main goal of gastric sleeve surgery is rapid weight loss in order to improve health and quality of life. In 2019, the number of gastric sleeve surgeries performed was almost 60%, making it one of the most popular weight loss surgery options available.
Excess weight loss can reach 60% to 70% within a year after surgery.
This is dependent on your adherence to the lifestyle change that is recommended for life after surgery. Weight loss is more than diet and exercise, it also takes a significant amount of metal effort and motivation to be successful.
Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery, like most major invasive surgeries, comes with a few benefits and risks:
The Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery is extremely successful in treating obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and high blood pressure. This procedure is less complicated when compared to other bariatric operations.
Dumping syndrome, that may occur after gastric bypass surgery, is less likely to occur after a gastric sleeve.
It has been shown to increase life expectancy, as well as increase quality of life.
The Risks of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
The complications associated with gastric sleeve surgery include GERD, blood clots, infection, sleeve dilation, and possible staple line leakage. After surgery, it is also possible to experience nutrition complications, such as nausea, vomiting or constipation.
New textures and foods may not be tolerated and you might experience taste changes. This is completely normal and should be managed by eating smaller portions, eating and drinking slowly, avoiding extreme temperatures for food and beverages, and chewing thoroughly.
Sleeve Gastrectomy and other restrictive procedures have been found to provoke reflux symptoms, especially if you had acid reflux prior to bariatric surgery. If you experience acid reflux after gastric sleeve surgery, your doctor might prescribe medications or diet therapy.
It is common to experience weight stall's throughout the weight loss journey. The body is adjusting to changes and wants to maintain balance.
Weight gain may also occur. However, the goal is to keep this to a minimum. When you feel pressure, this is the signal to stop eating. When you continuously overeat, the stomach has to stretch in order to accommodate food.
How long does it take to recover after gastric sleeve surgery and what does post-surgery care entail?
As mentioned, the surgery can last from 1-2 hours. You are usually sent home from the hospital within 3 days after surgery depending on surgical complications, such as bleeding, infection, or blood clots.
Pain is adequately managed to ensure timely recovery. You will be able to control your pain with “patient-controlled analgesia” (PCA). This allows you to self-administer pain medication with the click of a button. Well-controlled pain will allow you to get out of bed as soon as possible.
You will feel weak and tired for a few weeks after surgery due to lower caloric intake and healing. Most patients can go back to work or school after 2 to 4 weeks.
Avoid strenuous activity for 3-6 weeks. Start with light physical activity, like walking as soon as possible. The more active you are, the faster your recovery will be. Consult with your practitioner before increasing exercise.
If you’re planning on having children after surgery, you will have to wait for quite some time. Gastric sleeve surgery and pregnancy can be very complicated. It is recommended that you wait at least 18 months after the surgery before pregnancy. Generally, you should wait until your weight has stabilized before even considering pregnancy.
Lastly, patients will often have excess skin after bariatric surgery, particularly around the belly. Some individuals consider plastic surgery and tummy tucks. If this is something you are interested in, check with your insurance company to see if they cover post-bariatric plastic surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery vs Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery is different from the commonly known gastric bypass surgery. Unlike gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass involves making a pouch that bypasses most of the stomach and is directly connected to the lower portion of the small intestine.
The decision of which surgery to undergo will rely on BMI, obesity-related health conditions, complication rates, and willingness to lifestyle change.
All bariatric operations are proven to achieve high success rates, but they all have their own risks and complications. You will have to have a discussion with your healthcare provider on what option may be the best for your individual needs.
Gastric sleeve surgery has become a fairly common bariatric weight loss surgery.
The recovery time will vary based on the individual, but you should be able to go back to daily life activities within a couple of weeks and back to some normalcy within a couple of months.
If you are considering gastric sleeve surgery, it is advised to do your research. Look for gastric sleeve testimonials, gastric sleeve forums, attend support groups, and discuss with your healthcare team.
Consider Reading These Articles...
For more information, we recommend you check out these articles:
- Bariatric Support Groups
- Bariatric Surgery and Diabetes
- Bariatric Surgery Options
- Where Can I Get Gastric Bypass Surgery?
- Bariatric Vitamin Patches
- Bariatric Surgery Benefits
- Bariatric Surgery Explained
- Chewable Vitamin for Bariatric Patients
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.