Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy: The Basics
After deciding to make a drastic change and commit to a weight loss procedure, many choices lay ahead that can affect actual weight loss results, recovery time and long-term success. Beyond the traditional Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding procedures that most people are familiar with, there is a third option known as a Sleeve Gastrectomy.
For patients who want more significant results than a Lap-Band can offer, but don’t want the risks associated with Gastric Bypass, a Sleeve Gastrectomy offers a middle-of-the-road approach. While the procedure itself is relatively new, a Sleeve Gastrectomy is essentially just the first half of a full bypass surgery. Doctors enter the abdomen laparoscopically and remove 75-80 percent of the stomach, turning it from a large football-shaped organ into a tube that resembles a flattened banana.
This reduction in stomach space severely limits the amount of food a patient can consume at one time in the weeks and months following surgery. After such a large portion of the stomach is removed, it takes only a tiny amount of food to fill the space and generate a satisfied feeling. However, because the intestines are not altered, unlike in a Gastric Bypass, there is much less risk of complication or vitamin deficiency. Additionally, the results of a Sleeve Gastrectomy are permanent, in contrast to a Gastric Banding procedure which can be adjusted or reversed at a later time.
For patients with a high concentration of fat around the waist and a BMI of more than 60, a Sleeve Gastrectomy may be performed as the first part of a two-stage bariatric surgery. In this approach, a Sleeve Gastrectomy is performed to allow the patient to lose their first 100 pounds or more over the course of 8-12 months. Once this initial weight has been lost, doctors can go back in to convert the “sleeve” stomach into a gastric bypass or duodenal switch, making way for even greater weight loss. Doing a Sleeve Gastrectomy first lessens the risk of complication in following procedures when doctors need full access to the abdomen.
Like other bariatric procedures, your doctor will talk to you about adhering to a strict diet before and after the surgery. Medications and vitamin supplements will ensure that your body makes the transition without being deprived of any essential nutrients. Weight loss with a Sleeve Gastrectomywill continue over the course of two to three years, and periodic checkups with your physician will make sure that you are on track for a long and healthy life.
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