Sleeve Gastrectomy Review
What You Should Know
Sleeve gastrectomy is a form of surgical weight loss. During this weight loss procedure, the human stomach is reduced in size by 85%. The reduction is caused by the removal of a portion of the stomach that is later bound to create the new, smaller stomach pouch. This form of weight loss surgery is performed using laparoscopic surgery and is a method of weight loss surgery that is not reversible. The term “sleeve” refers to the new look of the stomach pouch. The new pouch is shaped like a banana or the sleeve of a long sleeved shirt.
The sleeve gastrectomy is often the first step in a two part process. When patients are too obese to safely have a gastric bypass procedure or a duodenal switch, the sleeve gastrectomy is performed to reduce the patient’s overall body mass index before the second procedure can be performed. The patient will lose weight and when the weight loss ceases, doctors can go in and perform the gastric bypass on the new pouch.
Several things have to come into play in order for a patient to be deemed ready for a sleeve gastrectomy. The procedure is reserved for patients who present with a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or above. These patients are most often deemed obese beyond the range of other weight loss surgeries or techniques and need to lose a large amount of weight before they can undergo a more traditional gastric bypass or duodenal switch.
During the sleeve gastrectomy, the patient will undergo an 85% reduction in stomach volume. This reduction is caused by the stapling and removal of the majority of the stomach. Unlike a gastric bypass, the weight loss after surgery is due to the reduction in stomach size and not the bypassing of a large portion of the intestine. The volume limit for the stomach pouch after the sleeve gastrectomy will range from one ounce to five ounces.
- Provides patients who do not qualify for other forms of weight loss surgery an option for losing weight.
- Is performed laparoscopically, significantly reducing the changes of infection.
- Provides patients with the option to have a full gastric bypass after significant weight is lost.
- Provides a stand alone weight loss option for patients who want to reduce the risk of complications surrounding gastric bypass.
- If overeating continues, the sleeve will expand and the patient may gain back any weight lost.
- The procedure is not reversible.
- Patients with higher BMI may need a second surgery to continue losing weight.
- Leaking of the stapled area of the stomach may occur leading to harmful internal damage.
For patients who are severely obese and left with the option to lose weight or die, this procedure offers a safer alternative to gastric bypass, gastric banding or other form of weight loss surgery. Unfortunately, the possibility of weight regain, leaky staples and the fact that the procedure cannot be reversed need to be well thought out before considering a surgery of this magnitude. Some insurance companies maintain this surgery on their investigational list, and therefore will not pay for the surgery or may require a higher co-pay amount.