A sleeve gastrectomy, also known as a tube gastrectomy or gastric sleeve resection, is an operation aimed to help those who are looking to lose weight. In the procedure, around 90% of the stomach is removed, reducing the amount of food needed in order to feel full. With a large section of the stomach removed, the hormone that is usually produced, called ghrelin, which is involved in stimulating the appetite, is reduced. This suppresses the appetite and aids in weight loss.
Who is this procedure suitable for?
A sleeve gastrectomy is suitable for patients that have a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. For those with weight related illnesses, this BMI can be lowered to 35. To be eligible, a patient should have tried other types of weight loss methods such as dieting without having any effective long term results.
How is the procedure performed?
Gastric sleeve resections are performed using a laparoscopic or ‘keyhole’ technique for a less invasive solution and is done using general anesthetic. To perform the keyhole procedure, five small incisions are made to make room for the surgery instruments. Using these instruments, the stomach, which is usually shaped like a pouch, is reduced to form a tube shape that is similar to that of a banana. The tube is stapled along the side and the excess stomach is removed.
Patients who undergo the sleeve gastrectomy can experience significant and relatively quick weight loss after the procedure. Many patients can lose up to 60% to 70% of their excess kilos and this can be achieved within the first 12 months after the surgery is completed.
Just like any surgery, there are risks associated with this procedure. These include:
Leaks – as the stomach has been stapled, there is a chance leaks could occur along the cut line. Depending on the severity, this may require extra surgical procedures and can cause fistula or infections. This can make your stay in hospital longer (weeks or months) and can become a life threating problem in some cases.
Bleeding – bleeding after the operation has been completed can lead the patient to require blood transfusions or another operation.
Infection – this may be fixed with antibiotics or further surgical procedures.
Low food intake tolerance – an extremely rare risk is a condition that leaves some patients unable to intake adequate amounts of food. This may require nutrition support through intravenous methods.
Organ damage – keyhole procedures can unintentionally injure nearby organs, which may require a surgery to repair.
Pneumonia or chest infections
Important things to remember
While a sleeve gastrectomy can assist in weight loss for most patients, a balanced diet and regular exercise is still required in order to achieve desirable results. Patients should not solely rely on a procedure to eliminate extra weight. Surgery should only ever be the last resort, and patients should try noninvasive methods such as healthy food choices and an exercise regime before looking into medical procedures.