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What is Sleeve Gastrectomy?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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A sleeve gastrectomy is a surgical weight loss procedure. It involves removing a significant portion of the stomach and creating a much smaller tube- or sleeve-like structure out of the remaining tissue. As a result, people feel full after eating smaller portions of food. Sleeve gastrectomy is a laparoscopic procedure, meaning that a surgeon can perform it through four or five small incisions in the abdomen instead of making a large cut and manually removing stomach tissue. Since it is minimally-invasive, most patients are allowed to go home after a single overnight stay in the hospital, and full recovery is expected in about one month.

There are several types of effective weight loss surgery, and sleeve gastrectomy is a relatively new procedure. It is becoming more and more popular because it carries fewer risks than many other procedures, and it does not involve inserting a plastic band or another foreign object around delicate stomach tissue. Good candidates for sleeve gastrectomy are people who are mild to moderately obese, otherwise in good health, and physically able to exercise regularly after surgery. Occasionally, a surgeon will choose to perform sleeve gastrectomy on a morbidly obese patient and later conduct a more invasive gastric bypass procedure.

A patient is usually given a sedative and a local anesthetic before the procedure begins. His or her vital signs and comfort level are carefully monitored throughout the operation by a team of surgical assistants. A surgeon first makes a small incision in the upper abdomen and inserts a fiber optic camera called an endoscope into the cavity. Scalpels, clamps, and other instruments are inserted through other small cuts and manipulated with the aid of the camera. The surgeon then clips away approximately 70 percent of the existing stomach and staples the remaining tissue together into a sleeve shape.

After carefully inspecting the stomach and checking for leaks and accidental tissue damage, the surgeon retracts the instruments and sutures the skin wounds. The patient is admitted into a hospital room where doctors and nurses can monitor recovery overnight. If complications such as bleeding or infection do not occur, he or she is allowed to go home with assistance the next day. At home, it is important for patients to avoid physical activity and follow a carefully prescribed diet for about one week. Most people are allowed to return to work and exercise regimens by the end of the second week.

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