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A male jogger takes steps to live a healthy lifestyle after undergoing weight-loss surgery.

Gastric sleeve: benefits, risks, and diet tips

During the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, approximately 85% of the stomach is removed, leaving a tube or sleeve-shaped stomach with a much smaller volume. The outlet valve and the nerves to the stomach remain intact with this procedure, making it unlike the other bariatric surgery techniques. The stomach is drastically reduced in size, and its function is changed from a food storage tank to a food channel. The sleeve gastrectomy is not reversible.

The fact that it does not involve any bypass of the intestinal tract may well be the strongest reason to consider the vertical sleeve. Because of this fact, patients don’t suffer the complications that come with intestinal bypass. This makes the vertical sleeve a good choice for patients who are already suffering from anemia, Crohn's disease, or other conditions that make surgery involving intestinal bypass undesirable.

Benefits of gastric sleeve surgery

Most patients can expect to lose 40-50% of excess body weight over six to twelve months.

During vertical sleeve surgery, the main part of the stomach, which produces the hormones that stimulate hunger, is removed. This means that, while the stomach is reduced in size and the volume of food eaten is limited, the stomach still functions normally.

Other benefits include:

  • Improvement in health conditions: Weight loss resulting from gastric sleeve surgery can lead to the improvement or resolution of obesity-related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.
  • Reduced hunger: Removal of a portion of the stomach reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping patients control their appetite and reduce cravings.
  • No foreign objects: Unlike some other weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bands, gastric sleeve surgery does not involve implanting foreign objects in the body.
  • Short hospital stay: Patients usually have a relatively short hospital stay and a quicker recovery compared to some other weight loss surgeries.

Risks of gastric sleeve surgery

The risks of problems with the vertical sleeve are low but include blockages in the sleeve or post-operative leaks along the staple line. Because this surgery doesn’t provide any component of gastric bypass, some patients may experience a disappointing level of weight loss or weight regain over time. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy could be converted to a gastric bypass if necessary, but it is unlikely. The gastric sleeve procedure is not reversible because part of the stomach is permanently removed. Other risks of the procedure include:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Long-term commitment
  • Psychological challenges


General food guidelines to follow post-gastric sleeve:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary or carbonated beverages.
  • Protein is essential for muscle maintenance and healing. Aim to meet your daily protein requirements, usually around 60-80 grams per day, with your healthcare provider's guidance.
  • Even after the surgery, it's crucial to eat small, frequent meals and avoid overeating.
  • Avoid sugary and high-fat foods because they can lead to discomfort and may hinder weight loss progress.
  • Focus on structured meals rather than constant snacking.
  • Take prescribed vitamins and mineral supplements to prevent deficiencies.
  • Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, and stop eating when you're satisfied.
  • Drinking through straws can introduce excess air into your stomach, potentially causing discomfort.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity as recommended by your healthcare team to support weight loss and overall health.

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