Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy is defined as a surgical weight loss procedure that results in the stomach being reduced to about a quarter of its original size. Different from a stomach stapling or lap band, which merely constricts the stomach, a sleeve gastrectomy actually cuts out a large portion of the stomach through surgery, following the major curve of the organ.

After removing some 75% of the stomach, the open skin is then reattached creating a banana shape, or sleeve. The procedure is permanent and not reversible.

How is it Performed?

Generally, a gastric sleeve operation will not be considered for anybody how is not considered to be extremely or dangerously obese. Doctors are looking for a BMI of at least forty. This is usually performed as an alternative to a gastric bypass, which can be dangerous if the stomach is too large.

The procedure is divided into two stages, first is the sleeve gastrectomy itself, and then the doctor may opt for going into gastric bypass. Patients will usually lose quite a bit of weight after the first stage alone, making the second stage that much safer. That being said, the second stage may be canceled depending on the results following the first stage.

Expected Results

The reason sleeve gastrectomy is fairly popular in spite of being something of an extreme measure is because, by and large, it does tend to work. There are not a lot of long term studies available at the moment, but short term studies have helped to prove the following points:

  • Gastric sleeve surgery tends to offer results comparable to gastric bypass surgery.
  • Gastric sleeve surgery reduces the risk of ulcers in comparison to gastric bypass.
  • In addressing obesity related health problems, gastric sleeve surgery tends to offer comparable results to gastric bypass surgery.

Because the procedure is still relatively new in comparison to gastric bypass, gastric bands, and duodenal switch surgery, data is still in the process of being collected. What we do know is that the surgery offers similar results to gastric bypass surgery, by and large, with fewer known side effects and at a lower cost.

What Happens Next

If you’ve ever read up on gastric bypass, stomach stapling, lap bands and so on, then you have a good idea of what to expect after a gastric sleeve surgery. Your doctor will advise you on the specifics of what you can and cannot eat, but in general, you will have to start off with an all-liquid diet for some time, drinking juices that are low on acid in order to better facilitate the healing process.

From there, even after the healing process is mostly complete, a lot of items are now on the no-go list:

  • Greasy foods. Heavy oils can harm the stomach.
  • Spicy foods. The oils and acids found in hot peppers and so on can be very harmful to sensitive stomach tissue.
  • Large food items. You’re going to want to look into smaller portions after a gastric sleeve operation. Even healthy food has to be eaten in much smaller doses.

You will also need to be very careful about how you treat your body and how often and how much you eat. No more eating until past full, as this is risking serious injury. Big meals should be avoided in favor of several small meals throughout the day.

The Cost

The cost of gastric sleeve surgery can be quite high due to the intensive medication, therapy and dieting that goes along with the operation itself, but because it can be a life-saving procedure, it’s not impossible to have it covered in full by insurance. However, you will want to check with your provider before you make any major decisions.

Some insurance providers will insist that gastric sleeve surgery should be classified in the same elective surgery categories as, say, cosmetic surgery. If you can prove the medical validity of the operation, though, then you have a chance of not having to pay for the whole procedure out of pocket.

There are some patients who actually look into medical tourism as an option to get the bariatric surgery they need, but of course, this can make it harder to get full coverage from your insurance provider.

Making the Choice

You won’t be able to make the decision for yourself without discussing it with your friends and family, your doctor and most importantly, yourself. You need to give the operation some serious consideration. There is a very real risk of complications and the procedure isn’t a be-all, end-all to your weight problems. While the majority of patients do find success after the first stage alone, the fact remains that you will need to exercise discipline and self control after the procedure if you want to meet your fitness and life goals.

Here we have only provided you with some basic information on the procedure itself. You need to provide your own self knowledge and intuition in order to make the final decision on whether or not to undergo this procedure.