Really Lose the Weight with Gastric Sleeve Surgery
At Alabama Surgical Associates, we offer a broad range of minimally invasive weight loss procedures, technically known as laparoscopic bariatric surgery. These surgical options are used to treat morbid obesity and are growing in popularity due to the significant health risks involved with obesity. One popular option at our office in Huntsville, AL is the laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy, also called gastric sleeve surgery. In this procedure, Dr. Foreman or Dr. Doucette removes approximately 80 percent of the stomach to restrict the amount of food the stomach can hold. Gastric sleeve surgery results in over a 50% excess weight loss over 12-18 months in our patients.
What is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Gastric sleeve surgery (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the stomach. In this surgery, your surgeon removes the left side of the stomach and seals the remaining part of the stomach with surgical staples. The end result is a 75 to 80% smaller stomach that is longer and resembles a banana. There are other types of gastrectomy surgeries that remove different sections of the stomach, but they are typically used to remove cancerous tissue.
Who is the best candidate for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy?
A vertical sleeve gastrectomy, as with any type of weight loss surgery, is often considered as a lost resort. However, non-surgical weight loss programs that are based, diet, behavior modification, and regular exercise can fail over time. They may result in weight loss, but not lasting weight loss. In fact, it’s estimated that less than 5% of those participating in non-surgical weight loss programs lose, and keep off, a significant amount of weight.
Sustained weight loss for those who are morbidly obese is even harder. Plus, there are some serious health risks for people jumping from diet to diet, with their weight “yo-yo-ing” up and down.
Generally, to qualify for bariatric surgery with the Alabama Surgical Associates team, the patient needs to be at least 100 pounds over his or her ideal weight, or have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or above. Patients with a BMI of 35 who have weight-related medical problems such as high blood pressure, sleep apnea or diabetes also qualify for surgery.
Why does gastric sleeve surgery work?
This procedure works through various mechanisms. First, the now-smaller stomach can only hold a fraction of its former volume so the patient can only consume a significantly reduced amount of calories. Second, the surgery seems to affect hormones in the stomach that impact several factors including hunger, satiety, and blood sugar control. Studies show that the sleeve not only creates weight loss but also improves type 2 diabetes and many other medical problems.
What are the risks of this surgery?
Risks associated with weight loss surgery at the Alabama Surgical Associates are very low. Here are some weight loss surgery statistics
- Rate of mortality – 0.1%
- Patients who develop Leakage – 0.2%
- Patients may suffer some long-term risks such as strictures or bowel obstructions – 5 to 10%
There are risks of nutritional deficiencies due to the lesser amount of food being consumed, but these can be minimized with attention to proper nutrition.
In contrast to the extreme health risks involved with obesity, and particularly morbid obesity, the risks of this surgery are significantly less.
What are the advantages of the procedure?
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy has these advantages:
- It restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold.
- It leads to rapid, significant weight loss of over 50%.
- It doesn’t require any foreign objects such as those required in gastric band surgery.
- It doesn’t require re-routing of the food stream as in gastric bypass surgery.
- It leads to favorable changes in gut hormones.
- The recovery is not difficult.
What are the disadvantages of vertical sleeve gastrectomy?
- This is a non-reversible procedure, unlike band surgery, for instance.
- It can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
- As with all surgical procedures, there is a risk of complications.
How is gastric sleeve surgery performed?
At Alabama Surgical Associates, we perform vertical sleeve gastrectomy through laparoscopy. Laparoscopy, as opposed full open surgery, uses small incisions that allow the surgeon to insert their tools and a small camera. Once they make the incision, Dr. Foreman or Dr. Doucette then remove the left part of the stomach. This allows the attachment to the esophagus to remain basically untouched. Overall, the stomach will be about one-fifth to one-quarter of its original size. The now-smaller stomach is securely closed with staples, the removed portion is taken out of the body, and the exterior incisions are closed.
What will my recovery be like?
With laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, most patients can return to work in one to two weeks. You will have low energy, however, so you’ll need to consider some half days, or working from home occasionally. Patients worry about lifting causing hernias at the incisions, but this almost never happens. You can begin light exercise immediately, taking small walks while still in the hospital. Keep exercise low impact for the first month.
What happens with eating after my surgery?
You will need to adopt permanent changes in your eating habits for the success of this surgery and your future weight maintenance. Although every patient’s situation after gastric sleeve surgery is unique, these are some general guidelines:
- When you start eating solid foods, you’ll need to chew thoroughly. Foods such as steak will need to be ground or cut into small pieces and then chewed thoroughly.
- Don’t drink fluids while eating, as you’ll feel full before you have consumed enough food.
- Eliminate desserts or foods with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.
- Omit carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, high-fat foods, and high-fiber foods.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Limit any snacking between meals.