Many people struggle to lose weight and keep it off. Sometimes, diet and exercise alone are not enough to make lasting changes. Gastric sleeve surgery, a bariatric or weight-loss surgery, makes the stomach smaller. This can help you feel fuller faster, which leads to weight loss.
You and your doctor can discuss gastric sleeve pros and cons, as well as potential gastric sleeve surgery side effects. That way, you can determine if it is the best way to achieve your health goals.
How Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Work?
With a gastric sleeve procedure, your surgeon will remove about 70% of your stomach. The remaining portion will be a smaller tube-shaped pouch, which resembles a sleeve. With a smaller stomach, your food portions will be limited. You will also feel less hungry.
After gastric sleeve surgery, you will need to eat a specialized diet and take dietary supplements. That helps you get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
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Gastric Sleeve Surgery: What to Expect
- Surgery lasting 1 to 2 hours.
- One-to-two-day hospital stay, followed by a four-week recovery.
- Loss of 50 to 60% of excess body weight within two years of surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Pros
Beyond rapid and significant weight loss, there are many potential benefits of gastric sleeve surgery. Patients can experience improved physical health. This may include improvement in obesity-related health conditions like:
- High blood pressure.
- High cholesterol.
- Sleep apnea.
“People who have obesity can lose weight quickly through the gastric sleeve procedure and see an improvement in other medical conditions they have,” says Karla Bernardi, MD, minimally invasive bariatric and general surgeon, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. “We see patients become able to stop taking medications for their obesity-related conditions after having this surgery.”
Patients also may see positive changes in their mental health-post surgery, including:
- Improvement in overall mood and state of mind.
- Lower depression.
- Lower anxiety.
“Patients report having more energy after the surgery,” says Dr. Bernardi. “They can be more engaged with everyday life with their families and get back to events and activities they used to enjoy again.”
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Risks
“As with any surgery, the gastric sleeve procedure has risks,” Dr. Bernardi says. “One thing that can happen is a leak along the line where where the stomach is stapled. It’s a serious complication, but it’s also very rare. We see it in fewer than 1% of patients.”
Gastric sleeve surgery risks include:
- Blood clots.
- Perforation of stomach or intestines.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or acid reflux.
It’s important to discuss all of the potential risks with your doctor before making the decision to move forward with the procedure. UPMC offers free information sessions to patients. You can become more familiar with gastric sleeve surgery side effects and accurately set your expectations.
You also can reduce your risk of developing complications. Committing to a pre-surgical lifestyle program can help you prepare both mentally and physically for the procedure. The six-month program offers access to a team of experts who will help set you up for success, with:
- A personalized diet to prepare for surgery and long-term maintenance.
- Private bariatric nutrition consultations.
- Solutions to problematic eating behaviors and nutritional issues.
- Help identifying and managing eating sabotages.
- Monthly support groups.
- A realistic exercise program for life.
The more you can do to plan and prepare, the better equipped you will be for surgery, recovery, and living a healthy postsurgical lifestyle.
Who Is a Candidate for Weight-Loss Surgery?
You might be a good candidate for weight-loss surgery if you need to lose more than 100 pounds and have tried other methods of weight loss without success.
Additional guidance from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests that good candidates have:
- A body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more.
- A BMI of 35 or more with a serious health problem linked to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or sleep apnea.
The best candidates for any kind of weight-loss surgery are armed with the facts and ready to commit to a new way of life.
“Bariatric surgery is by no means an easy way out,” Dr. Bernardi says. “We look at surgery as one tool that will help people see results. But, they still have to put in the hard work and be willing to make lasting changes to their lifestyle.”
If you think you are ready to learn more about bariatric surgery at UPMC, our experts are ready to speak with you and discuss your options.
Jane E. Brody. The Underused Weight Loss Option: Bariatric Surgery. The New York Times. LINK.
David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH, Dana A. Telem, MD, MPH, Robert F. Kushner, MD. Benefits and Risks of Bariatric Surgery in Adults. The Journal of the American Medical Association. LINK.
Roni Caryn Rabin. Weight-Loss Surgery May Reduce Heart Risks in People With Type 2 Diabetes. The New York Times. LINK.
About UPMC Bariatric Services
UPMC Bariatric Services is here to help if you’re struggling with obesity and want to lose weight. We offer both surgical and nonsurgical weight loss plans and can help you find the right path for a weight-loss journey. We will work with you to discuss your needs and develop and individualized treatment plan. We meet the highest level of national accreditation for bariatric surgery centers, and our team provides complete care. We offer our services at UPMC locations throughout Pennsylvania and New York. Visit our website to find a provider near you.