Gastric sleeve is one of the leading types of bariatric or weight-loss surgeries today. It is a minimally invasive procedure that restricts how much food you can eat and also decreases your appetite.

However, it is not a fix-all for everybody who is overweight. It is best suited for those who are severely obese with one or more medical conditions that could be improved through weight loss.

Keep reading to find out more about gastric sleeve, how it works, and whether or not you are a candidate for this procedure:

What is Gastric Sleeve?

Also known as laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, gastric sleeve removes approximately 80% of the stomach using minimally invasive surgical techniques in order to help patients lose weight.

During a gastric sleeve procedure, a bariatric surgeon makes several incisions in the abdomen and inserts a laparoscope and other medical instruments to perform the surgery. A laparoscope is an instrument with a tiny camera that displays pictures to a monitor.

The surgeon will use these tools to remove a large portion of the stomach and create a new one with the remaining portion. This is formed into a sleeve-shaped tube – hence the name, “gastric sleeve”.

The result is a smaller stomach that can only hold around two ounces of food compared to the average stomach which can hold up to two quarts.

How Exactly Does Gastric Sleeve Work?

Gastric sleeve does more than simply reduce the size of your stomach to restrict how much you can eat – although having a smaller stomach and less room to receive food does contribute to weight loss.

The second effect of gastric sleeve is a physiologically diminished appetite. By removing most of the stomach, your body will produce chemical changes that decrease your appetite.

The hormones ghrelin and leptin, which control appetite and fullness, are strongly linked to obesity. By removing the portion of the stomach that produces these hormones, gastric sleeve alters hormonal balances to reduce your appetite.

Am I a Candidate for Gastric Sleeve?

Not everyone who is overweight is a candidate for gastric sleeve. To be a good candidate for this surgery, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 40 or more – which works out to about 100 pounds over your recommended weight, or
  • Have a BMI between 35-39 and a serious obesity-related health problem such as heart disease, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes.

Typically, these conditions make it extremely difficult for individuals to bring down their weight by other means.

How Much Weight Can I Lose With Gastric Sleeve?

Most patients can expect to lose about two-thirds of their excess weight within the first six months of surgery. However, this is based on whether or not you follow certain guidelines, such as:

  • Exercising at least one hour a day, four days a week
  • Limiting your snacking to 2-3 times per day (most days of the week)
  • Maintaining adequate protein intake
  • Avoiding high-calorie and high-sugar drinks

How Long Does It Take to Recover From Gastric Sleeve?

Total recovery typically takes around 6-8 weeks with a hospital stay of two days post-surgery. During this time, your diet will be limited to clear liquids with a full liquid diet continuing for two weeks to allow your body to heal and adjust to the new size of your stomach.

You may feel pain following the procedure for a few days and must avoid driving a vehicle for the first week following surgery (due to the pain medications). During the first two weeks, you should be taking it easy.

At about three weeks post-op you can transition to pureed foods. After 4-5 weeks, you can start eating soft foods such as yogurt and mashed potatoes.

At the 6-8 week mark, you can go back to a regular diet.

About the author

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Dr. Bola

Family physician. Works for the "man" by day, wife & mom 24/7.
Loves the work of translating "medicalese" to plain english.

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