Gastric Sleeve: a Perfect Fit

June 1, 2009 · Filed Under vertical sleeve surgery · Comment 

The three most popular types of weight loss surgery generally performed in the United States are gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding surgery. Each has its own unique advantages and disadvantages. For some patients, the scale and efficacy of full-on gastric bypass is the best option; for others, the low impact and easy reversibility of gastric banding – or Lap-Band® – surgery makes it the procedure of choice. And, for a surprising number of patients, a sleeve gastrectomy – a.k.a., the gastric sleeve procedure – is the way to go.

Gastric sleeve surgery involves using surgical staples to divide the patient’s stomach into two vertical sections, then removing one section consisting of 85% – 90% of the stomach. The remaining stomach section is shaped something like a tube or a sleeve, hence the name “gastric sleeve”. This sleeve has only 10% – 15% of the holding capacity of the whole stomach, which drastically reduces the amount of food that the patient can consume at a sitting. And with reduced food intake comes reduced weight.

The advantages of gastric sleeve surgery are manifold. The greatest of these is safety: the likelihood of complications from the less-complicated gastric sleeve procedure is lower than that of gastric bypass surgery, which is more complex surgical operation.

Gastric sleeve’s second big advantage is its convenience: the patient doesn’t have to schedule frequent follow-up office visits, as is the case with patients who undergo Lap-Band surgery and need to see their doctor several times in the first year to have the band adjusted.

“The gastric sleeve procedure doesn’t require as much active follow-up participation on the part of patients,” notes Dr. Jason Harrison, who does weight loss surgery in Arlington, Texas, adding that patients can get back to normal life that much faster.

Thirdly, gastric sleeve patients experience fewer restrictions on the types of food that they can eat. The possibility of overeating is itself greatly lessened as well, since the part of the stomach which produces hormones responsible for stimulating hunger is removed from the digestive system during a gastric sleeve operation. Although the procedure reduces the size of the stomach and the amount of food that can be eaten, the stomach otherwise functions normally. And, since the pylorus (the “valve” that allows only measured amounts of food to pass from the stomach into the bowel) is retained during gastric sleeve surgery, the problem of “dumping” experienced by many gastric bypass patients is essentially nonexistent.

Are there disadvantages to gastric sleeve surgery? Yes. First, the procedure is not reversible; once the stomach is cut, it is impossible to “uncut” it. Recovery time is also longer with gastric sleeve surgery than with a gastric band, and the procedure can be followed by serious complications requiring additional surgery. Finally, no form of surgery is foolproof, and the gastric sleeve procedure is no exception. As with all forms of weight loss surgery, the patient must want success and work for success in order for the operation to succeed as a treatment for obesity.

Gastric sleeve surgery is the best option for many patients, but only as a part of a total lifestyle change. A common-sense program of diet and exercise, along with daily vitamin supplements and yearly routine check-ups are vital if the surgery is to succeed. If you’re considering weight loss surgery as a treatment for obesity, you owe it to yourself to discuss the option of the sleeve gastrectomy with your personal physician or bariatric specialist.

The gastric sleeve procedure is becoming increasingly popular among patients seeking a surgical treatment for obesity. Dr. Jason Harrison performs weight loss surgery in Arlington, Texas.