Are you thinking of getting gastric sleeve surgery performed to tackle obesity? If so, then this guide is for you. Read on and learn everything you need to know about this highly effective weight loss solution.
Obesity is a serious health concern. Not only is it associated with reduced quality of life, but it is also linked to the leading causes of death worldwide, including, but not limited to, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several types of cancer. If you have tried exercise and diets for years but are still far from the ideal weight for your gender and height, gastric sleeve surgery can be a good option for you because it can help you lose weight relatively quickly.
Gastric sleeve surgery is the most common bariatric surgery and is also called sleeve gastrectomy. In the following sections, we will discuss gastric sleeve surgery in depth, including its benefits, effectiveness, and potential risks.
How is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Performed?
This surgery is performed laparoscopically, which means the surgeon will insert long and thin tubes into the abdomen through several small incisions. A small camera, and various instruments are introduced through these tubes.
This surgery requires general anesthesia. That means you will be given an anesthetic to induce unconsciousness. A breathing tube will be inserted in your windpipe to maintain proper breathing during the procedure.
Gastric sleeve surgery involves dividing the stomach into two parts. Roughly 75% to 80% of your stomach will be removed, while the remaining 15% to 20% will be reattached to create a sleeve with a banana-like shape.
You are likely to spend one hour in the operating room during the surgery. After that, you will receive postoperative care in a recovery room, where you are likely to stay for an hour or an hour and a half.
Generally, the surgeon makes five or six small incisions in the abdomen to perform the procedure. These incisions heal fairly quickly. Because the surgery involves multiple smaller incisions instead of one larger incision, recovery is quite fast. You can expect to be discharged within two or three days. However, if any complications arise, you may have to stay in the hospital longer.
Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Effective?
This surgery triggers weight loss in the following two ways:
- Because the gastric sleeve surgery reduces the size of your stomach, you feel satiated sooner. As a result, your calorie intake reduces.
- The gastric sleeve surgery involves removal of the portion of the stomach involved in the production of ghrelin. Termed as the ‘hunger hormone,’ ghrelin stimulates appetite and increases the intake of food. With ghrelin removed, you will not feel as hungry as before. Consequently, you will consume fewer calories.
So, how much weight you can expect to lose following a gastric sleeve surgery?
If you follow your doctor’s recommendation, you can easily shed 50% or more of the excess weight in 18-24 months after the surgery. You may be able to lose even more. Some people have managed to lose as much as 60-70% of their excess weight.
However, keep in mind that a gastric sleeve surgery can help you achieve your weight loss goals only if you make the lifestyle changes recommended by your doctor. If you don’t adhere to the recommended exercise and diet plan, you may struggle to see such results. The good news is that making the recommended lifestyle changes help you not only lose weight but also keep the lost weight off.
Benefits of losing weight
For people struggling with obesity, losing a large portion of extra weight can lead to significant improvements in their quality of life. Shedding excess weight makes it much easier to perform several daily activities. But that’s not all. Obesity is linked to many dangerous health conditions, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea. Losing weight reduces your risk to these conditions.
Who is a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery?
All types of bariatric surgery are considered a viable option only when a person has not been able to lose much weight by improving their diet, and adding regular exercise to their daily routine. Gastric sleeve surgery is no exception to this.
Even then, the procedure is considered as an option for obesity management only if certain criteria are met. These criteria depend on the following two things:
- Your BMI (BMI stands for body mass index. It measures how healthy your weight is based on your height)
- Whether or not you have any health condition related to obesity
You are a candidate for this weight-loss procedure if:
- You have morbid (extreme) obesity (That is, a BMI score of 40 or more)
- Your BMI score is 35 or above but less than 40 AND you have one or more severe medical conditions linked to obesity
Complications and risks
Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the safest surgeries. But at the end of day, it is a surgery, and like any other surgical procedure, it has risks.
We, at the Silhouette Clinic, believe in educating our patients about procedures as a whole and thus, understanding not only the benefits but also the potential complications of gastric sleeve surgery, should be an integral part of your decision-making process.
Certain complications, although rare, can happen after any types of surgery, including the following:
- Postoperative hemorrhage: Bleeding after a surgical procedure may happen immediately after the procedure is complete or sometime later. Also, the bleeding may or may not be limited to the surgical wound.
- Deep vein thrombosis: Any surgery, as well as the process of recovering from it, can put you at a risk for blood clot formation.
- Pulmonary embolism: In pulmonary embolism, a blood clot develops in a blood vessel and then travels to the lungs, blocking the blood flow. Any surgery, including gastric sleeve surgery, can increase the risk of pulmonary embolism. The increased risk is due to long periods of inactivity following the surgical procedure. Because of this, the blood is not able to circulate as effectively as it should. This, in turn, increases the risk of blood clotting.
- Irregular heartbeat: Post surgery you may be at an increased risk for atrial fibrillation, which is a common type of irregular heartbeat.
- Pneumonia: Pneumoniais an infection in the lungs caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungi. Surgery can increase your risk of developing pneumonia.
In addition to these general surgery-related complications, gastric sleeve surgery can potentially cause some other side effects specific to it. These include:
- Stenosis: After the gastric sleeve surgery, a part of the gastric sleeve can potentially narrow, causing a condition known as a stricture. But this condition usually occurs in a minority of patients and can be resolved, in most cases, with a proper treatment using dilation.
- Gastric leaks: One of the rare risks (around 2% of patients) of this surgery is the leaking of digestive fluids and partially digested food from the stomach into the abdominal cavity. This a serious and potentially life-threatening complication. It can be treated with a combination of drainage and stent placement, but it may require surgery.
- Vitamin deficiencies:After undergoing a gastric sleeve surgery, you will need to follow a very restrictive diet. You will experience rapid weight loss. If you don’t use vitamin supplements following the surgery, you may develop vitamin deficiencies.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): GERD occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus, a tube that connects the mouth and stomach. GERD is a common side effect of gastric sleeve surgery. As the stomach is reduced to a fraction of its normal size, the pressure inside the stomach increases, potentially causing GERD. Recent data suggests that roughly 35% of people who undergo the gastric sleeve procedure may experience new or worsened GERD.
Keep in mind that a balanced diet and regular physical activity are necessary for shedding the extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight. You may gain the lost weight in case you:
- eat an unbalanced diet
- eat more than you should
- don’t exercise regularly
Right after surgery, some patients may have constipation, nausea, or vomiting. These symptoms are rarely very severe and should go away on their own within a few days. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help you deal with them.
Another common concern following gastric sleeve surgery is sagging skin. Because the procedure helps you shed weight quickly, you may have large amounts of loose skin. You can have it removed surgically if that’s an issue, but it’s important to note that your body may require a year or more to stabilize. For this reason, experts recommend waiting some time before planning a procedure for removing excess skin.
Last but not the least, remember that the gastric sleeve surgery is irreversible. So, before you say yes to it, make sure this is exactly what you want. If you don’t like the results, nothing can be done. The surgeon can’t change your stomach to how it was before the surgery.
Diet changes after the procedure?
Before gastric sleeve surgery, the surgeon will recommend you eat more protein-rich foods, reduce carbs, and cut off sugar. You will be put on a liquid diet for a week after the procedure. You can start taking pureed food after the first week. One month post-surgery, you will be able to start eating a balanced, healthy diet. You must stick to a healthy diet after your procedure to effectively lose weight and maintain a healthy weight.
For more information about endoscopic weight loss options including Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty, or if you wish to book a consultation, do not hesitate to contact us now, we will be glad to assist you in your weight loss journey.