Sleeve Gastrectomy

This page will provide you with information about sleeve gastrectomy. For further details, you should speak to your consultant.

What is a sleeve gastrectomy?

It is a type of weight loss surgery also known as gastric sleeve surgery, most appropriate for individuals with a BMI of 35 of above. It is more significant than gastric band surgery but less significant than gastric bypass surgery.

Some patients opt for a sleeve gastrectomy by itself but it can be done as part of a two-stage weight loss process. Patients may have a sleeve gastrectomy if they are considered too high-risk for gastric bypass; once they have lost some weight from the sleeve gastrectomy then they may be considered for bypass surgery.

The operation

It involves reducing the size of the stomach by removing up to 75% of it. The stomach is divided and reshaped into a thin sleeve, reducing the volume of the stomach so that the amount of food consumed at any one time is reduced. It can be performed as keyhole surgery or via an incision made in the abdomen. The procedure takes between one and two hours and is performed under general anaesthetic. Most patients are required to stay for one to three days after the operation.

What makes it different?

It is different to gastric bypass surgery as it reduces the size of the stomach but without changing its function (gastric bypass surgery changes the way food is absorbed by the body whereas sleeve gastrectomy does not).

The after effects are also different to gastric bypass surgery as the different types of food that can be eaten are less restricted. Patients of gastric sleeve surgery should experience a reduced appetite as the smaller stomach affects the hunger hormone released – this can lead to patients losing weight quicker than with a gastric band procedure. Unlike a gastric band procedure sleeve gastrectomy is also permanent and is irreversible.

What is recovery like?

Patients take between 2-3 weeks off work depending on the job function – for example manual labour jobs may require more recovery time before returning. Exercise such as walking is encouraged after a sleeve gastrectomy as it helps with recovery as well as weight loss. It also helps reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs and can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol. Patients will also be encouraged to begin a healthy but restricted diet that contains all the essential vitamins and nutrients required.