Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy

Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as gastric sleeve surgery, is the newest weight loss surgery procedure. It involves laparoscopically or minimally invasively removing approximately 75-85 percent of the stomach. The remaining stomach takes the shape of a tube or “sleeve” and is about the size of a banana. This procedure limits the amount of food you can eat and helps you feel full sooner. It allows for normal digestion and absorption. Food consumed passes through the digestive tract in the usual order, allowing it to be fully absorbed in the body.

While the stomach is drastically reduced in size, its function is preserved. Surgery takes about two hours and patients typically stay in the hospital for two days. Most patients are able to return to work after two weeks.

Effectiveness of sleeve gastrectomy

The final weight loss may not as large as with gastric bypass. However, this may be enough for many patients. Because vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a newer procedure, there is less data about the long-term benefits and risks. The weight will usually come off more slowly than with gastric bypass. Patients should keep losing weight for up to 2-3 years.

Losing enough weight after surgery can improve many medical conditions, including asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol and gastroesophageal disease (GERD). Weighing less should also make it much easier to move around and do everyday activities.

Remember, surgery alone is not a solution to losing weight. It can train patients to eat less, but they still have to do much of the work. To lose weight and avoid complications from the procedure, patients will need to follow the exercise and eating guidelines from a doctor and dietitian.

Risks of the gastric sleeve are: 

  • Injury to stomach, intestines or other organs during surgery 
  • Leaking from the line where parts of the stomach have been stapled together 
  • Scarring inside the belly. This could lead to an obstruction (blockage) in the bowel in the future. 
  • Gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), heartburn or stomach ulcers 
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vomiting from eating more than the stomach pouch can hold