Weightloss surgery patient Mark smiling as he holds up his old, larger pants - gastric sleeve
Healthy Living

Everything You Need to Know About the Gastric Sleeve

Jan 8 2019

The gastric sleeve is becoming a popular surgical weight loss option: here’s why

Weight loss surgery is a great tool for gaining a new lease on life. These procedures can help you drop extra pounds and even make it possible to heal from unhealthy conditions. But not all weight loss surgeries are the same. There are different types of operations. Each one can help you lose weight in different ways. One of these surgeries is called a sleeve gastrectomy, or gastric sleeve. If you’re exploring your weight loss surgery options, learning more about the gastric sleeve can help you decide if it’s your right choice.

What is a gastric sleeve?

When you see “ectomy” on a word, it means a doctor uses surgery to remove something from your body. With sleeve gastrectomy, the doctor takes out part of your stomach. This shrinks the organ down to about 10–15% of its original size. After the surgery, your smaller stomach resembles a sleeve or tube instead of a larger oval shape. It stays this new size for the rest of your life. This can help you manage your weight long-term.

Gastric sleeve surgery helps you lose weight because it physically makes your stomach smaller. Less food can fit into your new stomach shape, so you eat less as a result. When you consume fewer calories from food, your body can burn stored fat to get energy.

This operation also changes your appetite. Your body makes substances that cause you to feel hungry or full. After gastric sleeve surgery, your body uses these hormones differently than before. Your appetite won’t be as strong as it used to be. When you’re not as hungry and you can’t fit as much food into your stomach, you eat less and lose weight.

What happens during a sleeve gastrectomy?

Doctors do gastric sleeve surgery laparoscopically. That means they don’t need to make a large incision to get to your stomach. Instead, they make a few small cuts in your abdomen. They stick long, thin tools in through these cuts to do the operation. One of the tools is a tiny camera. The doctors can see the inside of your body using this camera. This makes it easier to do the surgery.

Gastric sleeve operations take one to two hours to complete. You’ll stay in the hospital for a few days after the surgery so your doctor can make sure you’re healing well.

How is a gastric sleeve different from gastric bypass?

Gastric bypass surgery got its name because it bypasses — or skips — part of your stomach and intestines. During this procedure, doctors make your stomach smaller. They also redirect part of your digestive tract. Normally, your stomach moves the food it’s digesting into your small intestine. There, your body continues processing your food. During gastric bypass surgery, doctors move the spot where your stomach connects to your small intestine. The stomach connects to a lower part of your intestines. Doing this helps your body absorb fewer calories.

Gastric bypass is different from gastric sleeve surgery in a few ways. With a sleeve gastrectomy, your stomach stays connected to your small intestine where it always was. During gastric bypass, the doctor doesn’t take out the section of your stomach that your body’s no longer using, either. Instead, the surgeon turns it into a pouch by sealing it off.

Why are sleeves becoming more popular?

Gastric sleeve surgery has several advantages that have made it a popular surgery:

  • It doesn’t reroute your digestive tract, so it’s easier for your body to absorb nutrients from food.
  • It’s less likely to create health consequences that you might develop later on.
  • It’s not as complicated for doctors to do as gastric bypass can be.
  • It’s less likely to create painful sores called stomach ulcers.
  • It’s as effective as gastric bypass in the long term.
  • It costs less than gastric bypass.

If you’re thinking about having weight loss surgery, you have plenty of options to consider. We’re here to help you learn more about all of them. That’s why we offer informational sessions in convenient locations, so you can learn more and get all of your questions answered from a physician.

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