Gastric sleeve surgery is the surgical weight-loss procedure that has seen the most worldwide growth over the last 5 years. It reduces the stomach is reduced so that the patient feels full after eating small or moderate amounts of food, which enables weight loss. The weight loss is due to two mechanisms: the "restrictive mechanism" reduces the stomach’s volume and capacity to hold food and patients eat less because they have a smaller appetite due to a "hormonal mechanism."
Depending on the characteristics of each patient, the surgery can be performed through a conventional laparoscopy (keyhole operation) with five mini incisions or single-incision assisted laparoscopic surgery, which is carried out by making a single umbilical incision, leaving an almost unnoticeable scar. The operation takes about 60 minutes and because no joint or bypass is performed on the intestines, potential complications and risks are limited.
Who is this technique suitable for?
There are no absolute indications and each patient should be studied by a qualified professional who will establish the best surgical treatment to combat their obesity. Some clinics use the following guidelines for patients who are candidates for gastric sleeve surgery:
- Patients older than 50 years and those who have a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 50kg/m2.
- Patients between 20 and 50 years of age, with a BMI between 35 and 50kg/m2
- Patients with conditions associated with obesity (diabetes, hypertension, increased cholesterol, heart or respiratory diseases).
What are the advantages of this technique?
You can eat anything in small amounts, five or six times a day, while preserving normal digestive functioning. Patients do not suffer from a loss of vitamin-retention function, as in other more aggressive surgical procedures, nor do they have bouts of diarrhoea. Because the surgery does not affect the small intestine, everything that is eaten is absorbed. Weight loss depends on each patient but is usually between 60-70% of the excess weight, much of which is lost during the first six to nine months.
How should I prepare for surgery?
If you are in good physical condition on the day of surgery it will minimise the possibility of medical and surgical complications. Ideally, you need to lose around five kilos in the months prior to the surgery, with the help of diet and exercise. Patients want to be operated on because they have failed at almost all diets and have serious health problems. This last effort before surgery is the one that will guarantee the success and the weight lost will be gone forever.
After the operation, it is common for an obese patient who has undergone gastric sleeve surgery to have some discomfort but the recovery is usually rapid. Immediately after the operation, you are able to get out of bed, sit in a chair and even take small walks. Usually the patient can return home two days after the surgery. The return to a normal routine however, is not so immediate. For the first week after the operation you will only be able to drink fluids. For weeks two to four, you will only be able to eat purees. Then soft foods will be gradually incorporated into your diet until you are finally able to eat solids.