Sleeve gastrectomy is a restrictive procedure. During this procedure, the surgeon cuts the stomach vertically and removes 80% or more to form a narrow, banana-shaped gastric tube (the sleeve). The tube is capable of holding about six ounces of food. Though reduced in size from a regular stomach, the sleeve does hold more food than the pouch formed during a gastric bypass procedure.
The muscle that regulates the rate at which food empties from the stomach is maintained, meaning that all types of foods can be eaten but in much smaller amounts. It is also believed that a sleeve procedure reduces hunger by removing the portion of the stomach that produces appetite-stimulating hormones.
The primary advantage of the sleeve is that it is a relatively simple procedure that can be performed in a short time. This reduces time in surgery, thereby lowering the risk for complications. Due to reduced risk factors, the sleeve can be a more appropriate surgery for higher risk patients who may not qualify for a more in-depth gastric bypass procedure. Patients with a BMI of 60 or higher fall into this category.
A sleeve gastrectomy does not make any alterations to the gastrointestinal tract like the gastric bypass. It can also be performed as the first component of two separate procedures, meaning it is easily converted to a gastric bypass. However, some patients find that they lose a sufficient amount of weight after a sleeve and do not need to undergo the second, malabsorptive procedure.
The sleeve gastrectomy has only recently been an option for those seeking bariatric surgery. To date, only a few hundred patients have been reported in scientific studies. (Many thousands of procedures have been performed to date, but that data has not been published in scientific literature.) Consequently, there is limited data about the long-term results of the procedure. Although the majority of the studies found that most patients experienced a 50-60% loss of excess weight, studies have yet to be completed over a five-year period to show the success of the procedure in maintaining weight loss over time.
This information is intended only as an overview of a gastric sleeve procedure. Should you and your surgeon decide that this surgery is appropriate for you, you will receive more extensive education regarding the potential risks, side effects and complications as well as pre- and post-surgery guidelines to follow for your health.