The sleeve gastrectomy is a restrictive procedure and it is performed with a laparoscope and instruments through small incisions. A vertical sleeve is created using a stapling device. This sleeve will hold approximately 50 to 100ml and it has the shape of a banana. The excised portion of the stomach is removed. The reduced capacity of the sleeve restricts the amount of food that is necessary to feel full. There is no rearrangement of the bowels during this operation.
The procedure may take a few hours to complete, and hospital recovery time usually lasts for 1 or 2 days. Patients who qualify for minimally invasive (laparoscopic) surgery have smaller scars, lower risk of hernias, less post-operative discomfort and shorter recovery time. A liquid diet supplemented with pureed foods must be followed for several weeks after the procedure. Potential complications include:
- Iron and vitamin deficiency
- Blood clots in the legs
- Further surgeries to correct complications or tighten loose skin
- Leakage from the staple line
- Narrowing of the sleeve
Regular meetings with the surgeon and a dietitian will be scheduled before and after surgery to establish a diet and exercise plan to determine whether nutritional supplements are necessary. These appointments will take place regularly in the first year following surgery and less frequently afterward.
The Sleeve Gastrectomy is not a quick fix. Patients who undergo the procedure must be willing to make life changes to achieve and maintain weight loss and to prevent complications from the surgery. But with determination, good nutrition and regular exercise, the results can be dramatic: Most patients lose between 50-60% of the excess body weight after one year until they reach a stable weight 18 to 24 months after surgery. Weight loss occurs most rapidly immediately after surgery. Patients often also enjoy relief from weight-related illnesses such as sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heartburn and incontinence.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a calculation based on height and weight that measures body fat and determines classes of weight. A normal BMI is 18-25. Candidates for bariatric surgery typically have a Body Mass Index or BMI of 40 or more, or a BMI of 35 with a serious illness that can be improved with weight loss. Other factors taken into consideration include the patient’s physical and mental health and ability to follow a strict diet and exercise program. Patients interested in this procedure should schedule a consultation with their physician.