Weight Loss

What is gastric sleeve surgery and how does it support weight loss?

Discover what gastric sleeve surgery involves, whether you are eligible, and how it can help you to reduce your food intake.

Unfortunately, sometimes frequent exercise and healthy eating alone cannot effectively treat obesity. In such a situation, your doctor may recommend gastric sleeve surgery.

Also known as sleeve gastrectomy, this bariatric procedure is designed to help you lose weight by removing a large section of your stomach. The remaining portions are stapled together to form a sleeve-shaped stomach that is approximately 10% of the size it used to be.

The result? You’ll feel full after eating smaller portions and less hungry to begin with, thanks to lower levels of ghrelin (a hormone that boosts your appetite). Combined with a healthy lifestyle, these outcomes will support you to lose weight and keep it off.

But before you book a consultation, it’s important to understand exactly what this surgery involves, as well as its implications and requirements. In this introductory guide to gastric sleeve surgery, we’ll explain its eligibility criteria, procedural steps, expected outcomes and potential risks.

Who is eligible for gastric sleeve surgery?

It’s important to note that, along with every other type of bariatric surgery, a gastric sleeve should only be considered after serious efforts to improve your diet and exercise habits have been unsuccessful.

How is the stomach removed in gastric sleeve surgery?

A bariatric surgeon will perform your sleeve gastrectomy via keyhole surgery.

The surgeon will make a few small incisions in your stomach before inserting a laparoscope, which is a device with a tiny light and camera that sends images to a monitor. The surgeon will then remove up to 90% of your stomach by stapling and dividing along a specific line on the stomach, to form a smaller tube spanning between the oesophagus and small intestine. The part of the stomach to be removed is pulled out of one of the holes, all of which are less than 2cm wide.

You will remain under a general anaesthetic throughout this procedure, which will take approximately one hour.

Understanding the risks

Although regarded as a relatively safe procedure, gastric sleeve surgery poses risks just like any other major operation. Potential complications include:

  • Gastric leaks: stomach fluid may leak from the staple line on your stomach.
  • Stenosis: a section of your gastric sleeve may close, producing an obstruction within your stomach.
  • Heartburn: stomach reshaping may cause or intensify heartburn.
  • Vitamin deficiencies: as the removed portion of your stomach is partly responsible for vitamin absorption, you may experience deficiencies if you do not take supplements.
  • Bleeding

Rest assured that your bariatric surgeon will explain all possible complications at your initial consultation, ensuring you are fully aware of each risk before you proceed.

Is a gastric sleeve reversible or permanent?

As the majority of your stomach is completely removed, gastric sleeve surgery cannot be reversed. A better way to look at it is to consider that the procedure removes the surplus stomach that is required to live.

While you may be attracted to the idea of a permanent weight management solution, remember that your stomach cannot be returned to its original size if you are unhappy with the outcome.

What to expect right after gastric sleeve surgery

In the first few hours nausea is very common, however it settles down quickly, and most patients do not experience much pain.

After surgery, you may be advised to stay in hospital for about one to two days. During this time,  our team will explain which dietary supplements to take and help you to develop a post-gastric sleeve surgery diet. 

Over the following weeks, you’ll start with liquid foods before gradually transitioning to pureed food and finally solids. Meal portions will be much smaller, and you may be instructed to stop drinking during meal time. You will also need to increase your amount of physical exercise, resuming more vigorous activity after four to six weeks.

It’s important to note that gastric sleeve surgery is more than a medical procedure – it’s a pledge to lead a healthier life. At Newcastle Obesity Surgery Centre, our dedicated team is here to help you fulfil this commitment and achieve your weight loss goals safely and sustainably.

Does a gastric sleeve work?

Gastric sleeve surgery can be a highly effective weight loss tool. In general, patients tend to lose about 70% of their extra weight over a period of 6 to 12 months. 

This is due to a combination of two mechanisms that encourage a lower caloric intake:

  • You will feel fuller, quicker, as your smaller stomach will only be able to accommodate about ½ cup of food.
  • You won’t feel as hungry as before because your surgeon will remove the portion of your stomach that produces ghrelin, a hormone responsible for inducing hunger.

That said, gastric sleeve surgery should only ever be a supportive mechanism to help you manage your weight. Significant weight loss depends on a variety of additional factors, including your starting weight, age, co-morbid physical or psychiatric illnesses, exercise regime, diet, and commitment.

Start your weight loss journey today

Discover whether you’re a suitable candidate for gastric sleeve surgery here or download our Obesity Surgery Information Brochure to find out more about alternative options. 

To begin your weight loss journey with Newcastle Obesity Surgery Centre, please request an appointment via our contact form or call us on 02 4058 3936. Our specialists will help you to determine the most appropriate and effective bariatric procedure for your body.

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