Sleeve gastrectomy is a type of restrictive weight loss operation. It reduces the amount of food you can eat by reducing the size of the stomach. A thin vertical sleeve, or narrow section of the stomach, is created by using a stapling device, removing approximately 80% of the total volume of the stomach. Populations of cells that may contribute in the stimulation of hunger are removed during this process. The remaining stomach “sleeve” is roughly the size of a small banana. This smaller stomach now restricts the amount of food one can consume before feeling full, thus leading to weight loss. There is no intestinal bypass with a sleeve gastrectomy.
Sleeve gastrectomy has several benefits over other procedures. With the sleeve, there is no foreign object implanted within the body and no adjustments or “fills” are necessary. Also, since there is no malabsorptive component to the operation, nutritional deficiencies are uncommon. Weight loss from the sleeve is similar to that of gastric banding, but is less than weight loss with gastric bypass.
The sleeve is growing in popularity in Phoenix, as well as all over the United States. It is now covered by several insurance companies and has been approved by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as a primary operation. While there is not much data on 5 and 10 year outcome data, early results (up to 3 years) of studies performed looking at sleeve gastrectomy are good, with promising weight loss and resolution of obesity related co-morbidities. It is important to note, though, that the sleeve procedure is not reversible, as the majority of the stomach has been removed. It can be converted to other weight loss procedures such as a gastric bypass, however, and some surgeons use the sleeve as a first step in a two-step process in very high risk patients.