Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy


There are multiple options when it comes to weight loss surgery.  The Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery, also called sleeve gastrectomy, is quickly emerging as the go-to procedure for many top surgeons and has overtaken gastric bypass as the gold standard procedure for weight loss surgery.  Before we explore life after gastric bypass surgery, let’s be sure to understand what gastrectomy is all about.

So what do they do in the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery?

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgeryGastric sleeve surgery works by removing a large portion of the stomach, leaving a banana-shaped “sleeve” that connects the esophagus to the small intestines.

Unlike the more invasive gastric bypass and duodenal switch, gastric sleeve surgery does not rearrange the digestive system. This results in a lower complication rate, fewer malabsorption problems, and a quicker recovery.

“As a stand-alone procedure, gastric sleeve surgery has been impressive…”

For patients with a body mass index over 50, the gastrectomy is sometimes used as a “first step procedure” to get the weight down before moving forward with a more complicated procedure such as the duodenal switch or gastric bypass surgery. It has been performed on patients ranging from 12 to 79 years of age.

As a stand-alone procedure, gastric sleeve surgery has been impressive…

  • It is less expensive and has fewer complications than other types of bariatric surgery
  • It has similar weight loss results
  • It has a comparable impact on obesity health problems

In addition, if you are on anticoagulation medication, compared with gastric bypass, the gastric sleeve is probably a better choice to reduce the risk of marginal ulcers.

Gastric Sleeve vs Other Weight Loss Surgeries

Gastric sleeve surgery has skyrocketed in popularity.

In the United States, it now makes up over 60% of all weight loss surgery procedures performed, up from 24% in late 2011. During the same time frame, gastric bypass dropped from 62% to 37% of all procedures performed while gastric banding (e.g. Lap-Band) fell from 7.5% to 0.8% of all procedures performed.

As mentioned above, gastric sleeve surgery is much less complicated than many other types of bariatric surgery…

  • Your digestive system is not rearranged, unlike the duodenal switch or gastric bypass
  • Also unlike these other surgeries, is primarily restrictive in nature (works by making you feel full sooner).
  • There are no foreign objects implanted in your body as with the lap band.

As a result, the gastric sleeve may have fewer complications, including…

  • A reduced risk of malnutrition or vitamin deficiency
  • Avoiding dumping syndrome, among other side effects, compared to the malabsorption procedures
  • A reduced risk of long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) compared to other restrictive procedures.

In addition, since such a large part of the stomach is removed, following gastric sleeve surgery you may have less of the hormones that make you feel hungry.

Finally, gastric sleeve surgery is often used as second option if lap band surgery doesn’t work.

The gastric sleeve also has a couple of negatives compared to some of the other bariatric surgery types…

  1. The operation to reduce your stomach size creates a relatively long staple line which presents an increased risk of staple line leaks and bleeding.
  2. Unlike gastric banding, gastric sleeve surgery is irreversible – once your stomach is shrunk there is no way to change it back to the original size.

What are the risk with the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery?

As we’ve reviewed, the gastric sleeve is one of the least complex forms of bariatric surgery and has some of the lowest mortality and complication rates.

You may experience a few of the same issues as you would after other weight loss surgeries such as diarrhea, constipation or difficulty swallowing. Since your stomach is bigger than the gastric bypass pouch and maintains the connection between the stomach and small intestine that is lost after the gastric bypass, these issues should be less prevalent.

What life-changing events can occur after Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery?

  • Addiction swapping, replacing your food addiction with another addiction (like drugs, shopping, etc…)
  • Divorce
  • Staple-line failure, where the sleeve was created
  • Dangerous internal hernias in which the intestine can be trapped and blocked
  • Need for additional operations because of problems such as a stretched sleeve or separated stitches
  • Failure to lose enough weight if you snack on high-calorie foods and don’t exercise

I’ve had Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery, now what do I do?

It’s important to stop and change your unhealthy habits right away.  For most of us this includes:

  • Addressing your addictive personalities and relationship issues
  • Exercising daily
  • Drinking water daily (and lots of it)
  • Taking daily vitamin supplements (for the rest of your life)
  • Eating a healthy diet with 6 small meals per day
  • Sleeping 8 hours a night to allow your body to heal itself (we do put it through a lot during the day)
  • Enjoy your new body that allows you to do even more than before

Additional Resources

Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgeryUltimate Gastric Sleeve Success: A Practical Patient Guide To Help Maximize Your Weight Loss Results

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