As the obesity epidemic continues to grow, more and more people will turn to drastic measures to try to lose weight such as gastric sleeve surgery. There was a fad a few years ago where people would have their jaws wired shut. Another choice is to have gastric bypass surgery which is a very serious decision that should never be made lightly.

Anyone who is thinking that they are ready for gastric bypass of any type should stop and discuss all of their options with their surgeon including the realistic expectations for what will happen after the surgery is completed. Patients who are not ready for the surgery can find themselves overwhelmed with what is happening afterward.

Different Gastric Bypass Surgery Types

Gastric bypass surgery is not just one procedure but a blanket term for many different types of surgery. The most common of these types of surgery is the Roux en Y procedure which makes a small pouch at the top of the stomach by using either staples or a plastic band. This procedure is not reversible.

The Lap Band Surgery is an adjustable gastric band which is placed around the top of the stomach. As the patient loses weight, the band can be adjusted to make it tighter and control hunger better. Without being adjusted, the band can slip off the stomach and cause serious problems. After the Lap Band surgery, patients will return to the doctor’s office for adjustments several times, keeping them more accountable in their weight loss efforts.

A sleeve gastrectomy is used in the most severe cases of obesity, those that are deemed to be too dangerous for the other surgical types. Another non reversible procedure, this one is accomplished by removing about 15% of the stomach itself, stapling what is left into a pouch that will form a sleeve (giving the procedure its name). The procedure is usually done laparoscopically. This procedure may be done to kick off weight loss after which the surgeon may convert to another type of weight loss surgery. However, if weight loss is progressing correctly, it may not need to be done.

Gastric bypass surgery of all types can be done either as a laparoscopic procedure which offers fewer risks and shorter recovery time or an open procedure which may lengthen the recovery time and increase the risk but may be the only option if complications occur. The surgeon may plan to use the closed procedure and then have to change once the surgery begins, which should also be planned for when taking time off work or making arrangements for help around your home until you are back on your feet.

Gastric sleeve surgery is particularly popular among obese people who are desperate to end their struggle with the obesity quickly.

Technically known as laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), it is a restrictive form of weight loss surgery in which a bariatric surgeon removes a large part (about 85 percent) of the stomach and converts it into a tube.

Gastric sleeve is typically performed laparoscopically (keyhole). In the surgery, a viewing tube equipped with a small camera (laparoscope) and other tiny surgical instruments are inserted into the stomach through 1/2-inch cuts. This telescope helps surgeons see a magnified view of the area to be operated on a screen.

Following this stomach reduction surgery, the stomach size becomes smaller and takes a banana- like shape, allowing you to limit the amount of your consumed food, and feel full a lot sooner than you are used to.

Pros

Gastric sleeve surgery has numerous advantages over other bariatric procedures. Some of these advantages include:

Lack of hunger: With the removal of large portion of your stomach most of the hormones in the stomach that trigger the sensation of hunger are also removed.

No foreign devices: There is no foreign objects implanted inside of you, such as a gastric band.

Less restrictive diet after the surgery, meaning that you can eat most of the foods you have always eaten, albeit in small amounts.

Technically, this surgery is much simpler than any other weight loss surgery. It doesn’t involve disconnecting or rerouting the intestines.

A non-reversible procedure, gastric sleeve takes only 60 – 90 minutes to complete.

Other weight reduction surgeries like gastric bypass and duodenal switch can be performed after this procedure.

Significant weight loss is another advantage of this operation. Most people who undergo this procedure lose between 40-60% of excess weight within two years of the operation.

Cons

Although gastric sleeve surgery comes with lots of benefits and seems very appealing, but it does come with its fair share of downsides:

The biggest disadvantage of having gastric sleeve surgery is irreversible. In this procedure, most of the stomach is permanently removed and can’t be reversed.

Leakage is possible as the operation requires staples to be inserted into the stomach. The leaking stomach fluid can cause infection and other serious health problems.

Another disadvantage is that you may regain lost weight, because the stomach can gradually stretch and permit larger meals.

Since your post-surgery stomach is too small, you may feel uncomfortable and vomit in case you overeat or swallow poorly chewed food.

One of the biggest disadvantages of a gastric sleeve has to do with its cost. This operation is very pricey and rarely is covered by insurance companies.