Bariatric gastric sleeve surgery, also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy or laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, is becoming a popular choice for patients looking to lose weight fast. It is a straightforward procedure that does not require maintenance with low long-term complication rates compared to other procedures.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy involves removing about 80 percent of the stomach. In the end, patients experience:

  • Feeling less hungry
  • Feeling fuller soon after meals
  • A reduction of obesity-related health problems
  • Excess weight loss of up to three quarters

After the procedure, weight loss occurs fast: 

  • In 3 months, the patient losses about a third of excess weight
  • In 6 months, patient experience about half of excess weight loss
  • In 12 months, up to 70 percent of excess weight is lost

However, many patients experience a plateau stage about one to two years after the procedure. This means that while you will lose excess weight fast, all of a sudden you stop losing. This is because the body is continually trying to achieve homeostasis.

Homeostasis is the body’s way of adopting the internal environment in response to external conditions. So when food intake decreases, your body adjusts internally to try and create a stable weight. This means slowing metabolism, leading to you hitting a weight plateau.

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To overcome the Plateau stage, the patient is required to increase exercise. This may include adding a few 30-second planks in the morning and evening, taking the stairs at work or walking an extra mile before bed.

The Procedure

This surgery is done by making a large incision in the abdomen or by making small incisions and using small instruments and a camera to guide. More than half of the stomach is removed, leaving a banana-shaped lube or vertical sleeve. Surgeons use surgical staples to keep the new stomach closed. This is a non-reversible procedure since a significant portion of your stomach is physically removed.

The procedure can be carried out on patients of all ages. You should expect to stay in the hospital for about three days, go back to work in two weeks, and make a full recovery in about six weeks. Follow ups with the surgeon’s team happen at one week after the procedure, four weeks after and every three to four months to ensure that you are healthy and on track.

The Health Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Depending on the pre-operative weight, a patient should expect to lose between 40 to 70 percent of his or her excess body weight in the first year. In addition, the procedure improves relief from at least 15 health problems that are related to obesity, including:

  • Increased life expectancy
  • About 90 percent of patients experience reduced asthma incidences
  • Significant improvement in cardiac function
  • 50 percent of patients have their Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) resolved an year after the procedure
  • Reduced migraines
  • Reduction in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Obstructive sleep apnea resolved within a year
  • Improved relief or complete resolution of stress urinary incontinence

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Who Qualifies for the Procedure?

A good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery should have:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 and above
  • A BMI ranging between 35 and 39.9 along with serious obesity related health issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea among others.

Patients that do not meet the two BMI requirements may still qualify for other less invasive procedures.

Gastric sleeve surgery is a procedure that requires you to make active lifestyle changes. It is not an easy way out. Instead, you need to have the perseverance, dedication and work daily to improve the results. Celebrate the small victories, reinforce good habits and keep learning to reach your weight target.