Gastric sleeve surgery is a weight-loss procedure in which stomach is reduced and formed into a tube like shape. As the stomach becomes smaller a patient requires smaller portion of food, therefore he consumes less calories and loses weight. As all other surgical procedures gastric sleeve has advantages and disadvantages and must be carefully thought through.
Advantages of Gastric Sleeve
1-Satisfaction with smaller portions of food
The main advantage of this procedure is that after gastric sleeve it is easier to feel satisfaction with smaller portions of food. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, as surgeon reduces the stomach, the amount of hormones and other biochemicals involved in the sense of hunger also goes down.
Secondly, some people feel satisfaction only after they have physically filled their stomach fully. After gastric sleeve the space necessary to be filled is remarkably smaller therefore less food is required. All this allows consuming less calories and weight is lost.
It is extremely effective if combined with physical exercise and a healthy diet. Significant loss of weight also leads to improvement of blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver disease, reflux and many other conditions.
2-Less invasive than other bariatric surgeries
Gastric sleeve operation is less invasive than other bariatric operations (like gastric bypass) with no cutting, disconnection or alteration of small intestines. This reduces the risk of many surgical complications. Moreover, since the intestines as not altered, the absorption of minerals and vitamins is minimally affected and no dietary supplements are needed afterwards. This also means that gastric sleeve surgery has no associated dietary restrictions – the patient is able to eat everything that he or she used to enjoy before the operation.
3-No risk of dumping syndrome
After gastric sleeve the outlet valve (the pyloris) of the stomach remains intact, differently than after some other bariatric operations. There is no risk of so called “dumping syndrome”. In this syndrome the food passes through the stomach unaffected by gastric juice and causes indigestion, pain, diarrhea and other symptoms.
4-No foreign devices inserted
No foreign artificial devices (such as a gastric band) are put inside the body. So there is nothing to slip, erode or cause infection.
Using laparoscopy this operation can be performed even on extremely obese patients. Finally, if the gastric sleeve operation fails to reach a desired weight loss effect, then another surgery (gastric bypass or duodenal switch) can be performed.
Disadvantages of Gastric Sleeve
1-Gastric Sleeve is irreversible
The greatest disadvantage of this procedure is that it is irreversible. A big part of the stomach is permanently removed and new small pouch is formed. It is more sensitive to poorly chewed and quickly eaten food. To avoid vomiting and discomfort some patients have to learn how to eat slower and more thoughtfully.
2-Stomach may stretch
Another problem is that some patients keep trying to eat the same amount of food that they used to, is spite of physical satisfaction. Since there is no device to stop from overfilling the new stomach it stretches. Because of constant overfilling it enlarges and even more food can be consumed. This increases the calorie intake and a patient regains lost weight. The operation does not limit liquid food and drink consumption either. So uncontrolled drinking of high calorie drinks might impede the patient’s weight loss or, in some cases, even cause weight gain.
As any other surgical procedure gastric sleeve surgery has a risk of complications. This includes, but is not limited to infection, pneumonia, blood cloths, post operative pain, etc. Leakage is very dangerous, because the gastric juices damage the surrounding internal organs and make it easy for an infection to occur. Although the risk of complications is very low, it is higher for more obese patients.
Since gastric sleeve is relatively new procedure it has a short medical history and not all possible long term effects are known.