Gastric Sleeve Surgery is a restrictive procedure, which means that it will limit the amount of food that a patient is able to intake. It is different than bypass surgery because it leaves the small intestines intact, meaning that patients won’t have issues with malnutrition (as opposed to bypass surgery where disconnecting the small intestine means that patients won’t be able to absorb the full amount of vitamins and nutrients from food anymore).
In sleeve surgery, the bariatric surgeon creates several small incisions in the abdomen. Through these incisions, the surgeon is able to insert laparoscopic instruments and then reduce the size of the stomach by cutting and removing a large portion of it, then stapling the remaining portion closed. The result is a long, banana-shaped stomach that can hold less than 25% off what it was originally able to hold. The patient eats less and they lose weight.
The results of sleeve surgery is amazing. Within a year, patients on average lose around 50% or more of their excess body weight. Obesity-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure are significantly improved or resolved completely. There is sometimes a risk of side effects or complications from the procedure such as gastric leaks, infections, etc., but these are rare and the benefits of the surgery outweigh the risks.
The biggest hurdle that patients run into when pursuing weight-loss surgery is the cost of the procedure. In the United States, the average cost of sleeve surgery is almost $15,000. Some insurance companies will cover the costs, but for those whose insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the surgery, they turn to medical tourism. Medical tourism is the practice of going out of the country to have a medical procedure done. This can make weight loss surgery affordable for anyone.