Sleeve gastrectomy is a restrictive bariatric surgery technique that reduces the stomach in tube form, transforming it into a sleeve. Stomach capacity is limited, the patient eats less and feels full earlier. It is currently one of the best options for the treatment of morbid obesity, as it controls the appetite and satiety, ensures considerable weight loss and makes it easy for the patient to change his or her eating habits.
When can it be applied?
It is considered that a patient with a BMI of more than 35 is a candidate for this surgery, although other factors should also be considered. Patients with severe heart disease or a mental disorder that prevents them from understanding the surgery's complexity and committing to actively participate in the weight loss process with an overall change in habits are not candidates for this surgery. This operation is also not recommended in some patients with eating disorders.
How is it performed?
Usually, sleeve gastrectomy is performed laparoscopically through five small incisions without having to open the patient. During the operation, the general surgeon cuts and sutures the stomach to make it narrower and reduce its capacity by 60-80%, transforming it into a thin gastric tube. The patient therefore becomes satiated earlier and will eat less, in some cases up to 90% less. It is a permanent procedure that cannot be reversed.
What happens after the operation?
Each patient evolves differently although patients are usually admitted for a maximum of 3 days and can return to work after two weeks. The patient can ingest liquids on the day after the operation and gradually adds other foodstuffs. Even so, the patient will not eat normally until 3 or 4 months later, but will follow a diet controlled by a specialist. All this is facilitated because bariatric surgery patients present a spectacular reduction in their appetites after the operation.
A gentle, progressive return to physical activity is recommended. Patients normally start to practise controlled sport after 3 or 4 months.
One month after the surgery, the patient will notice its effects on his or help and diabetes and sleep apnoea, two of the main disorders associated to morbid obesity, will be under control. In most cases, the patient ceases to need insulin, sleeps better and does not snore, essential aspects for quality of life.
Weight loss is faster in the first 6 months, losing 60-70% of the total target. The patient gains mobility, finds clothes easier and therefore increases his or her self-esteem.
After a year, patients feel much lighter and can practise sport normally. After a year or a year and a half, the patient reaches his or her definitive weight, although controls are required for at least 5 years.
The key to bariatric surgery is the patient's cooperation. If the patient follows the specialist's instructions and recommendations, the outcome will be successful. The patient will be followed-up by the specialist for the first year and subject to periodic controls that progressively decrease.