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Gastric Sleeve Surgery Basics

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The Basics of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Among the many types of weight loss surgery that have been practiced in recent years, gastric sleeve surgery has emerged as one of the safest and most popular. In this procedure, also called laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, sleeve gastrectomy, tube gastrectomy, and vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a bariatric surgeon will remove up to 85 percent of the stomach so that the remaining stomach becomes sleeve- or tube-shaped. This is closed with staples.

For patients who lose extreme amounts of weight, additional surgery may be required, such as gastric bypass surgery or duodenal switch surgery. If a second surgery is deemed necessary, it usually takes place anywhere from 6 months to 18 months following the initial surgery.

Are You A Candidate for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

To be considered a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) require the patient to have a BMI (body mass index) of more than 40, which in most cases is the equivalent of being 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. And some patients who don’t quite meet the BMI qualification, with a BMI of 35-39, may still be considered for the surgery if they have obesity-related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol.

Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Prior to having a gastric sleeve procedure, a patient will be instructed to stop smoking, as smoking can lead to a number of health conditions, such as pneumonia, an increased risk of infections, blood clots, and other complications which can be potentially life-threatening. Also, in the weeks running up to the procedure, some patients will be put on a special pre-surgery bariatric diet.

Recovery After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Following the procedure, most patients will be required to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, with the recovery period lasting for a few weeks.
Gastric sleeve surgery cannot be reversed. The procedure, which takes 1-2 hours, is done under a general anesthesia. Patients may have some scarring, but clothing can cover it. A pain medication may be prescribed for the pain in the abdomen which can last for several days.

Post Gastric Sleeve Surgery Diet

Patients will be on a liquid diet for about two weeks after the surgery, then on semi-solid foods for two weeks, and finally solid food. It is typical for gastric sleeve surgery patients to lose from between 50-80 pounds in the first half-year to one year after the procedure. In addition, people who have had this procedure frequently experience improvement in blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Of course, patients must be committed to changing their lifestyle after their surgery, which means exercising regularly, learning techniques that will help them change their eating habits, and sticking to a strict diet for the rest of their life.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Risks

As in all surgeries, there are some risks and complications that may occur due to the gastric sleeve surgery, including:

  • Blood clots
  • Leaks in the sleeve. This is caused with the staples used during the surgery don’t hold properly, which may result in a leak of stomach acid. Infections can develop that will necessitate a follow-up surgery.
  • Regaining lost weight

At present, the cost of a gastric sleeve surgery can be as high as $15,000. Fortunately, many insurance companies are covering the cost of the procedure.