The sleeve gastrectomy procedure, also called a gastric sleeve, is a weight loss procedure done that reduces the size of the stomach. It reduces it to approximately 25 percent of its original size, removing the rest of the stomach permanently. This is not a reversible procedure since the larger portion of the stomach is removed completely, as opposed to other bariatric surgeries like lap band or gastric bypass. There may be a little dilation of the stomach later on, but it’s rare and isn’t significant. While the procedure can’t be reversed, it does have the benefit of being performed laparoscopically, which minimizes the recovery time.

Benefits of the Gastric Sleeve Procedure

Before going into the success rates and outcomes of the gastric sleeve procedure, it helps to know stats in regards to the many benefits of this type of weight loss procedure. First of all, someone who has a body mass index (BMI) of 50 or more is encouraged to get gastric sleeve above other procedures. A BMI of 50 puts you in the severely obese or super obese category. It has severe risks to your physical health, including a high risk of stroke or heart disease. One of the benefits is that it can be performed on someone with a high BMI of almost any age, ranging from teenagers to seniors up to 79 years old. Of course they need to be physically fit enough for the procedure, but it has been done on seniors.

Another benefit of the procedure is that it is a single procedure not requiring revisions or adjusting of bands; once it is done, it is done. The stomach is decreased in size and there is nothing left to do. It also tends to be less expensive and for many patients, has fewer complications than other procedures. Another benefit is that while much of the stomach is permanently removed, the 25 percent of stomach left is larger than the pouches left by gastric bypass or lap band surgery. Even though you can eat more with this surgery, you still lose about the same amount of weight as with other weight loss procedures.

Statistics and Results of Gastric Sleeve

There have been several studies to show the rates and results of the gastric sleeve surgery. The studies have been performed to show short-term and long-term success rates following surgery, looking at how much weight were lost and how long it was kept off for. Some statistics to keep in mind with short-term studies include patients losing up to 60 percent of their excess body weight in the first year, losing up to 70 percent of excess body weight in two years, and resolution of obesity-related conditions 1-2 years after surgery. It has shown to help with sleep apnea, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and Type II Diabetes.

One of the long-term results is from a Swiss study that showed that on average, patients lost more than 57 percent of their excess body weight after five years of having the gastric sleeve procedure. This is some of the research that led researchers to believe it can be a viable one-procedure weight loss option. Although some people do get a procedure called a duodenal switch after the gastric sleeve procedure. This study showed most of the weight lost was in the first year after the surgery, with the rest of the weight coming off slowly or going into maintenance mode for the following four years. Long-term success rates also showed continued reduction in comorbidity rates, including lower risk of heart disease and stroke, and improvement in type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Gastric sleeve is usually the first recommended procedure for patients with a BMI of 50 or more, but it can be done on BMIs of 40 or more. When the BMI is at the 40 level, the person is considered morbidly obese and is already at risk for several health complications. While gastric sleeve is not the only viable weight loss option, it ends up being very successful for a large number of patients that choose to get it. There are many drawbacks, though patients often agree the biggest advantage is that the stomach size is reduced permanently. Unlike with a lap band or gastric bypass procedure, this cannot be reversed. The only other option is to encourage better weight loss by adding a duodenal switch after the gastric sleeve procedure is done. Other than that, complications must be addressed without reversing the surgery.