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What Are the Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve Resection?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
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The procedure known as gastric sleeve resection is a medical operation that can help obese patients lose weight. The surgery carries risks such as infections and even death, and the patient has to permanently alter his or her eating habits. The potential benefits include weight loss and improvements in conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Gastric sleeve surgery is also known as sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve surgery. The procedure can either be performed on its own or as step one of a two-step operative program for severely obese patients. During the sleeve operation, the surgeon removes the majority of the stomach and staples it into a sleeve or tube shape. This reduces the size of the stomach so the patient can only eat small amounts at any one time.

This type of surgery carries a risk of complications, which runs at about three to five percent of patients. Complications include infection, despite the fact that the surgery is performed laparascopically, which does not require the surgeon to make a large incision. Infections can also develop in the abdomen if the sleeve leaks its contents. Gastric sleeve resection patients can also develop pneumonia.

Some patients also lose blood during the procedure or form dangerous blood clots. After the operation, patients may also experience irritation of the stomach. An advantage of the operation over procedures like a gastric band is that there is no risk of a band becoming dislodged.

As the operation is permanent, the patient has to adjust his or her eating and drinking patterns for life. Directly after the operation, the patient may have to spend a couple of weeks on a liquid or semiliquid diet and slowly wean himself or herself back onto solid food. For life, he or she then has to eat small portions of food about five times a day.

Nutrition from food is unaffected by gastric sleeve resection surgery. Despite the initial size of the stomach, it is possible that a patient can stretch the stomach if he or she eats too much food regularly. This can hamper weight loss. Drinking high-energy liquids or small portions of high-calorie foods can also negate the effects of the gastric sleeve resection surgery on weight loss.

Someone carrying a large amount of excess weight may also require a bypass operation to help him or her lose an adequate amount of weight safely. In this case, the gastric sleeve resection would be step one of a two-step program. The second operation would be performed after the patient loses enough weight for the risks of the bypass to lessen significantly. The second operation, however, carries similar risks to the first.

Weight loss from the sleeve resection can improve the physical appearance of the patient and increase mobility. It can also result in unsightly skin folds, which need surgery to remove them. The health benefits of the weight loss include an improvement in high blood pressure, diabetic symptoms, and high cholesterol.

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