Sleeve gastrectomy modifies the size and shape of your stomach to limit the amount of food that you can eat. It is used as a stand-alone alternative procedure to adjustable gastric banding or as the first part of a two-stage procedure for extremely obese individuals (BMI of 50-60) to reduce their weight and lower their risk for other bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass.
During the procedure, your surgeon divides the stomach into two parts using a vertical suture line and then removes the left side, or about 85% of the stomach. The left side contains the areas of your stomach that produce the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. Reducing ghrelin production reduces your appetite and makes adhering to dietary restrictions easier.
The remaining stomach is similar in size and shape to a banana and holds substantially less food than your original stomach did. Because the valves at the top and bottom of your remaining stomach are left intact, food moves through your digestive system more or less normally.
Why Consider Gastric Sleeve?
There are several reasons people consider gastric sleeve as an alternative to other bariatric surgeries:
- Concern about the long-term effects of intestinal bypass
- Concern about a foreign object in their body
- Suffer from conditions such as anemia, Crohn’s disease, or extensive prior surgery that prevents them from having other bariatric surgery
- Take medications such as anti-inflammatories that place them at higher risk of surgical complications
Benefits of Sleeve Gastrectomy
Sleeve gastrectomy has these potential advantages:
- Fewer dietary restrictions as stomach function remains normal
- Less hunger by reducing ghrelin production
- No dumping syndrome
- Minimal chance of an ulcer occurring
- Fewer problems with nutritional deficiencies
- Can be performed laparoscopically in patients weighing over 500 pounds
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks associated with abdominal surgery that include infection, bleeding disorders, injury to internal structures, and the potential of death. Additionally, there is a small risk of problems specific to the sleeve gastrectomy such as anastomotic leakage.
Sleeve gastrectomy has these potential disadvantages:
- There is a potential for inadequate weight loss or weight regain. While this is true for all procedures, it is theoretically more possible with procedures that do not have an intestinal bypass.
- Higher BMI patients will most likely need to have a second stage procedure later to help lose the rest of the weight.