Why is Gastric Sleeve Surgery a Top Bariatric Surgery Choice?
By Emeka Acholonu MD, FACS, Bariatric Surgeon, Virtua
Gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy) is now more popular than gastric bypass for weight loss. In this surgery, the stomach is reduced to about 15% of its original size—giving it a sleeve-like structure. Patients lose weight because they feel full from smaller food portions, eat less and have a significantly decreased feeling of hunger.
In a four-year study, researchers looked at more than 70,000 patients who had weight-loss surgery between 2010 and 2013. Gastric sleeve surgery grew from about 9 percent of all procedures in 2010 to 49 percent in 2013. Gastric bypass surgeries dropped from about 58 percent of all procedures to 44 percent. In fact, gastric sleeve surgery is now the most common bariatric surgery in the US.
Who is a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery?
Weight-loss surgery is meant for obese people who haven’t been able to lose or maintain weight through repeated attempts with diet, exercise and medications. This puts them at high risk for serious medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease and sleep apnea. Gastric sleeve surgery is a good, low-risk option for the following:
- Older patients
- Patients with chronic and severe medical conditions like heart failure or who have had an organ transplant
- Mildly obese patients who need to lose about 50-80 pounds
- Patients with chronic abdominal pain, risk of adhesions (internal abdominal scarring) or who have inflammatory bowel disease
Also, gastric sleeve surgery often is the preferred procedure in the following situations:
- For patients who have stomach or upper intestinal issues that need to be easily monitored through minimally invasive (laparoscopic) procedures
- For those more prone to complications like ulcers, hernias, bowel obstruction, vitamin and nutritional deficiencies
- For individuals with an unpredictable lifestyle like pilots and military personnel
- For individuals who may not be able to be weaned off medications that are irritating to the gut
- In situations where adequate and frequent follow-up care may not be available
How is the procedure performed?
Gastric sleeve surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that only requires a few small incisions. A miniature camera is inserted into one incision so the surgeon can see within the abdomen. The surgeon then inserts surgical instruments through the other incisions to remove part of stomach. Patients usually return home in one to two days following surgery. After gastric sleeve surgery, the stomach can only hold 2-3 ounces, so patients must strictly follow a recommended diet.
How does this procedure differ from gastric bypass surgery?
Gastric sleeve surgery can be less daunting to patients than laparoscopic gastric bypass. Gastric bypass involves cutting and stapling of the stomach, and rearranging or rerouting the small intestines. The sleeve procedure only involves the stomach, so it takes less time and has a lower risk of complications.
Is weight-loss surgery right for everyone?
The short answer is no. Surgery is not a solution for everyone. We only determine whether a patient meets the requirements for surgery. It’s only after a complete evaluation, intensive education and discussion with the patient, that he or she may decide to pursue surgery. Because weight-loss surgery is a life-altering procedure, we want to make sure our patients are committed to making the lifestyle changes needed for a successful procedure and life-long health maintenance
What are the risks of weight-loss surgery?
All major surgery comes with risks, and the risks are different for each patient. Virtua weight-loss surgeons have excellent below-national benchmark risk outcomes. During your first appointment, your surgeon will discuss your current health status and explain your individual risk.
How much weight will I lose? Will the weight loss be quick?
The amount of weight you lose—and how fast you lose it—depends on what weight-loss surgery you have and your commitment to following the program. Patients who have gastric sleeve surgery typically lose between 60 to 70 percent of his or her excess body weight within a year. The amount of weight loss also depends on your age, gender, starting body mass index and your ability to adhere to lifestyle changes necessary to make surgery a success.
To learn more about weight-loss surgery, attend an information session in Moorestown, Voorhees or Washington Township.
Updated January 14, 2022