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Gastric Sleeve Surgery – 5 Things You Should Know!

What is the Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Gastric Sleeve Surgery, also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a bariatric surgical procedure designed to assist individuals with significant weight loss. During this surgery, a large portion of the stomach is removed, leaving behind a “sleeve” or tube-shaped stomach that is significantly smaller in size.

This reduction in stomach size results in reduced food intake, helping individuals feel full faster and consume fewer calories. Gastric Sleeve Surgery not only restricts food intake but also has an impact on hunger-regulating hormones, making it an effective option for weight loss in individuals with obesity or related health issues.

Why do people opt for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

People opt for Gastric Sleeve Surgery primarily to address issues related to obesity and its associated health conditions. Some reasons why individuals choose this bariatric procedure include:

  • Weight Loss: Gastric sleeve surgery is a way to achieve significant weight loss. It restricts the amount of food a person can consume, leading to reduced caloric intake and, consequently, weight loss.
  • Health Improvements: Obesity can lead to various health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and heart disease. Losing excess weight through gastric sleeve surgery may lead to improvements or even remission of these conditions.
  • Long-Term Results: Many individuals find it challenging to achieve significant and sustained weight loss through diet and exercise alone. Gastric sleeve surgery offers a more reliable and long-lasting solution.
  • Reduced Hunger: This procedure decreases the production of hunger-regulating hormones, helping individuals feel less hungry and more satisfied with smaller meals.
  • Prevention of Obesity-Related Complications: Weight loss achieved through surgery can help prevent or alleviate obesity-related complications such as joint problems, fatty liver disease, and certain cancers.
  • Customizable: The surgery can be tailored to an individual’s specific needs and health conditions.

It’s important to note that Gastric Sleeve Surgery is a major medical procedure with potential risks and complications. Candidates should carefully consider their options, consult with healthcare professionals, and meet certain criteria before proceeding with the surgery.

5 Things You Must Know About Gastric Sleeve

What is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery (also known as a Sleeve Gastrectomy), is a Bariatric Surgical procedure that involves longitudinal resection of the stomach. It reduces the size of the stomach by up to 75% in order to help an obese patient restrict their intake, in order to lose significant weight and regain health and mobility. It is one of several varieties of gastric surgery for weight loss, as shown in the illustration below.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery - 5 Things You Should Know! - 1

Following resection, the patient is left with a banana-shaped pouch (or “sleeve”) that accommodates the food the patient is able to consume after surgery. This is approximately 150 ml of food intake at a time.

There is also a mini-gastric bypass procedure, as shown in the illustration below.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery - 5 Things You Should Know! - 2

Sleeve Gastrectomy: Gastric Sleeve Surgery Overview

  • The Gastric Sleeve procedure can take a few hours and is usually performed within 1 to 2 hours.
  • It is typically carried out under general anaesthesia ideally in a fully accredited facility by a specialist surgeon (Bariatric Surgeon) who has performed hundreds of similar operations on overweight and obese patients.
  • It involves making 4-5 small incisions in the belly area to introduce the scope (camera like equipment) and related surgical instruments.
  • Once removed, the remaining part is sealed with staples.

The selected hospital and the Bariatric Surgeon must have a proven capacity to work with obese patients. That’s because obese patients are often at a much higher risk of surgical complications, including serious or life-threatening complications. This is because people who are obese tend to have chronic health conditions that can make surgery risks higher. However, the risk of NOT having surgery – the risk of remaining morbidly overweight – is also taken into consideration by the patient and Surgeon; often, the surgery is the better option than leaving the patient ‘as is’ with obesity-related morbidity.

Life after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery, pretty much like the rest of the weight-loss surgical procedures, only kick-starts weight loss in people who are obese. It doesn’t offer a permanent solution in any way, and lifestyle changes MUST be made.

If you opt for a bariatric procedure, you will have to maintain your weight loss through lifestyle modifications, a healthier eating routine than you had and a commitment to regular exercise once you’ve crossed the safety checkpoint after surgery.

Your Portions Will Change

After undergoing Gastric Sleeve Surgery, food portion sizes typically undergo a significant change. This surgical procedure involves reducing the stomach’s size, which, in turn, affects how much food a person can consume. Here’s how food portion sizes change after gastric sleeve surgery:

Significantly Smaller Meals

Immediately after surgery and during the initial recovery period, patients are restricted to a liquid diet, followed by soft foods. Over time, they progress to solid foods. However, even when solid foods are reintroduced, portion sizes are substantially smaller than what individuals were accustomed to before surgery.

Portion Control

The surgery promotes a strong sense of fullness with much smaller amounts of food. Patients learn to prioritize nutrient-dense, high-protein, and low-calorie foods to meet their nutritional needs with minimal consumption.

Frequent, Mini Meals

Patients may need to eat more frequently, focusing on eating small, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. This approach helps maintain energy levels and ensures that essential nutrients are absorbed.

Slow Eating

It’s essential for patients to eat slowly and mindfully. Rapid eating can lead to discomfort, nausea, or vomiting. Chewing food thoroughly is vital.

Hydration Changes

While it’s essential to stay hydrated, patients are advised to avoid drinking large amounts of liquids with meals, as this can displace the limited space in the stomach. Hydration between meals is encouraged.

Nutrient Density

Because patients have limited space for food, it’s crucial to focus on nutrient-dense options. High-quality protein sources, vegetables, and whole grains are prioritized.

Adapting to New Habits

Adapting to smaller portion sizes is a significant lifestyle change. Patients are encouraged to work with dietitians or nutritionists to plan balanced meals, monitor their nutrient intake, and make informed food choices.

Learning Satiety Signals

After surgery, it’s essential for individuals to listen to their body’s signals of fullness and satisfaction. Overeating or eating too quickly can lead to discomfort and may not be well-tolerated.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery encourages a complete shift in eating habits. Patients learn to prioritize high-quality foods, appreciate mindful eating, and adapt to their new, smaller stomach capacity. Following dietary guidelines and regular check-ups with healthcare professionals is crucial to ensure a successful and healthy weight loss journey.

Just after Gastric Sleeve Surgery: What to expect

First, a few days after your surgery, expect pain, discomfort – and to have to adapt to a purely liquid diet for the first part of your journey after getting Gastric Sleeve Surgery.

While you’ll be given painkillers to take care of the discomfort and pain, there’s absolutely nothing that you can do to change the requirements for an early liquid diet. Once your Surgeon gives you the green light to move on to the next step, you’ll be good to go to the next level. That’s often pureed food, followed by semi-solid foods. Finally, you’ll be able to move on to solid foods, but in much smaller proportions than before. Again, it’s all about moderation, only with a gastric sleeve, you’ll fill up much more quickly – and you’ll physically be unable to consume a healthy amount without feeling unwell.

How much time you spend on each stage of food transition (from a liquid diet to select solid foods) will be determined by your Bariatric Surgeon and your overall nutritional care team.

Obesity: Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery an Option For You?

You’ll need to consult with your General Practitioner for a referral, then with a select Bariatric Surgeon Specialist to know for certain if this surgery will suit your needs. You’ll have needed to first attempt nearly every other non-surgical approach before you choose surgery. That’s because surgery is serious, and there are side effects and potential risks to consider before you consent to either a gastric sleeve or other weight-loss surgery.

If you have one or more of the following, you might make an ideal gastric sleeve candidate (but only your surgeon can assess this for certain). Most people also need to lose weight BEFORE their surgery, not just after.

Weight loss pattern over a year

Just to give you an idea here’s how the weight loss may occur at specific intervals;

  • 3 months after surgery, one-third excess weight is lost
  • 6 months after surgery, half of excess weight is lost
  • One year later, 60% of excess weight is lost.

Is Weight Loss the Only Benefit of Gastric Sleeve?

While the procedure is majorly a treatment option for obese people to shed excess kilos, it’s a fact that the procedure has various health benefits. It can lead to an improvement in various health conditions that are a consequence of obesity or worsened by having an unhealthy BMI.

Understand that when you’re obese, you’re not just overweight, you’re seriously overweight. When you’re seriously overweight, your health is also seriously compromised.

Health benefits that gastric sleeve offers include;

  • Mortality reduction with an 89% lower risk of death [1]
  • 90% asthmatics reported improvement in their condition [2]
  • Remarkable improvement in cardiac function [3]
  • 55% of diabetics saw an improvement in their condition [4]
  • Hypercholesterolemia improved in 64% of patients [5]
  • Improvement in hypertension after one year in 68% of people [6]
  • Resolution of obstructive sleep apnea in 62% of people [7]

Excess Skin After Significant Weight Loss

Excess skin after significant weight loss is a common concern for many individuals who have undergone Gastric Sleeve Surgery. While losing a substantial amount of weight is a significant achievement, it can lead to loose or excess skin that may not conform to the body’s new contours. Here’s a look at some key aspects of excess skin after weight loss:

Why Does Excess Skin Occur?

Excess skin often occurs after significant weight loss because the skin has been stretched for an extended period. It loses its elasticity, and as fat is shed, the skin doesn’t always shrink proportionally. Several factors can contribute to excess skin, including genetics, age, the rate of weight loss, and the overall amount of weight lost.

Areas Most Affected

The areas most commonly affected by excess skin include the abdomen, arms, thighs, breasts, and face. The severity of the excess skin can vary from person to person.

Challenges It Poses

Excess skin can present several challenges. It may limit the ability to fully enjoy the results of weight loss, as it can conceal muscle definition and can even lead to skin irritation and rashes due to skin folds rubbing.

Options for Dealing with Excess Skin

  • Plastic Surgery (Body Contouring)
    • Many individuals opt for plastic surgery, also known as body contouring procedures, to remove excess skin.
    • Common surgeries include;
      • Abdominoplasty
      • Arm lifts (brachioplasty)
      • Thigh lifts
      • Breast lifts
  • Lifestyle Adjustments
    • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and exercise can help improve skin elasticity and potentially reduce the appearance of excess skin. However, lifestyle changes alone may not be sufficient for everyone.
  • Nonsurgical Treatments
    • Some individuals explore nonsurgical treatments such as radiofrequency, ultrasound, or laser therapy to improve skin tightness. While these options may offer modest improvements, they are generally not as effective as surgical procedures.

Individualized Approach

It’s crucial to understand that the management of excess skin is highly individualized. What works for one person may not be suitable for another. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a board-certified plastic surgeon can provide guidance on the most appropriate solutions based on individual needs, goals, and overall health.

Excess skin, while a common concern post-weight loss, can be addressed effectively through a combination of surgical and nonsurgical approaches, ultimately helping individuals fully enjoy the results of their hard-earned weight loss journey.

If you have had significant weight loss and are now interested in removing excess skin, send an enquiry form or phone us on (03) 8849 1400

Download our free guides or phone (03) 8849 1400 – and ask for a no-obligation consultation.

Specialist Plastic Surgeons and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon

With a wealth of experience and training, our Specialist Plastic and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeons are dedicated to best-practice patient care and education, customising Surgery for each and every patient to best meet their needs and desired surgical outcomes.

Dr Craig Rubinstein
Dr Broughton Snell
Dr Stephen Kleid
Dr Gary Kode

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001124843

Dr Craig Rubinstein

Dr Craig Rubinstein is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon based in Hawthorn East, Melbourne. With over 20 years of surgical experience especially in all areas of Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery, but particularly in breast surgery. These include Breast Augmentation and Breast Reduction as well as Breast Surgery Revision.

Furthermore, he believes that surgical customisation, precision planning and technical expertise help him to provide optimal surgical outcomes for his patients.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001190266

Dr Broughton Snell

Dr Broughton Snell is a Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. His training in Plastic Surgery took place in Australia and the United States of America (USA).

Dr Snell is a fully qualified specialist plastic surgeon having completed his Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Surgeon MED0001052799

Dr Stephen Kleid

Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Septo-rhinoplasty, Septoplasty, as well as, a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.

Dr Kleid trained at Melbourne University, then completed surgical training at various hospitals including Royal Melbourne, Royal Children’s, The Eye and Ear and St Vincents. He worked as a surgeon at the University of Florida Medical school for further experience.

Specialist Plastic Surgeon MED0001405964

Dr Gary Kode

Dr Gary Kode is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, with experience in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery, as well as non-surgical treatments.

Dr Kode is a member of several organisations, including the Australian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS), The International Confederation for Plastic and Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, and he holds a Fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.

What to do next?

Our Patient Liaison Team can assist with any questions you may have when considering a procedure. You can send in an enquiry form below or call our Melbourne Clinic between 9 am – 5 pm Monday - Friday.

Disclaimer: Results depend on individual patient circumstances and can vary significantly. Results may also be impacted by a variety of factors including your lifestyle, weight, nutritional intake and overall health. Consult your Specialist Plastic Surgeon for details. This information is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your Surgeon.

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