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Gastric Sleeve Surgery

  • Standard Recovery Time:
    4-6 Weeks
  • Average Cost:
    $11,000 - $20,000
  • Anesthesia Required:
    Yes
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About Gastric Sleeve Surgery

The gastric sleeve procedure, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a bariatric surgery operation that helps patients lose weight. The procedure works by removing approximately 80% of the stomach and reducing the size, leaving behind a thin, vertical tubular stomach, or “sleeve.” This surgery is available to help individuals with clinically significant obesity achieve effective weight loss.

Commonly asked questions about Gastric Sleeve Surgery

1. What is a Gastric Sleeve?

The gastric sleeve, also referred to as a sleeve gastrectomy, is a minimally invasive treatment that involves the removal of a portion of the stomach. The surgery develops a new stomach that is similar in size and shape to a banana, and the rest of the stomach is removed from the body through a small abdominal incision. The sleeve-shaped section is stapled closed and reinforced. This reduces a person’s dietary consumption while still allowing for complete nutritional absorption.

The stomach continues to produce acid after gastric sleeve surgery, but it does not churn or break down food in the same way. This allows some food to remain intact in the stomach and as it enters the intestine, which contributes to feeling fuller for longer periods between meals. Patients usually feel less hungry after the surgeon removes the portion of the stomach that causes hunger and lowers the body’s level of the appetite-regulating hormone ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone.”

2. Why is Gastric Sleeve surgery done?

Gastric sleeve surgery is less invasive, simpler, faster to recover from, and generally safer than other bariatric procedures. People with health conditions that may not be suitable for a longer procedure, or who have had other weight loss options fail, may benefit from this surgery as a weight loss alternative and health benefit. By creating a smaller stomach through gastric sleeve surgery, patients may lose a significant amount of weight and health problems associated with excess weight such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, may resolve.

Additionally, the procedure can improve or eliminate the following conditions:

  • Relief from other conditions such as sleep apnea, joint pain, and heart health improvements with a decrease in heart attacks and strokes over time
  • Reduces feelings of hunger
  • Lower risk of vitamin deficiency or ulcers
  • Preserves normal stomach function allowing the digestion process to fully occur

3. Am I a good candidate for Gastric Sleeve?

Gastric Sleeve surgery may be considered for patients that meet the following criteria:

  • Body mass index (BMI) of 35 kg/m2 and above with an obesity related disorder such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or sleep apnea
  • Body mass index (BMI) of 40 kg/m2 above with or without obesity related disorders
  • Have tried to but not succeeded in losing weight prior to surgery
  • Have realistic expectations of the results

4. How is Gastric Sleeve performed?

If you have qualified for gastric sleeve surgery, a two-week liquid diet will be required before the procedure to encourage fat loss in your abdomen and liver, making the surgery safer. Your surgeon will give you specific guidelines to follow. Twelve hours prior to surgery, you will be asked to not eat or drink anything, making sure the stomach is empty before the procedure.

Step One – Anesthesia

You will be administered one of the following for your gastric sleeve surgery based on your doctor’s recommendation:

  • Intravenous sedation
  • General anesthesia

Step 2 – The Incision

Your surgeon will start by making four or five small incisions in your abdomen (about ½ inch long). The incisions allow entry for a laparoscopic camera to survey the abdomen, while the other incisions are used to insert small surgical instruments to perform the surgery.

A long flexible tube or additional ports will be inserted as a sizer to ensure that an appropriate amount of stomach is left in place. The surgeon will measure out the gastric sleeve, leaving a banana shaped pouch, and up to 80% of your stomach will be removed.

Step 3 – Closing the Incisions

Using a surgical stapler, the surgeon will staple the remaining stomach to allow the tissue to hold together. After the incisions are closed, you’ll be taken to a recovery room, where you may need to stay overnight to monitor any complications.

Step 4 – See the Results

You will have a smaller stomach preventing you from eating large amounts and making you feel fuller faster. The gastric sleeve surgery will reduce the amount of hunger hormones produced by your stomach and help to decrease appetite, cravings, and impulses that cause people to regain the weight they’ve lost.

5. How long does Gastric Sleeve surgery take?

Gastric Sleeve surgery usually takes around an hour to two hours depending on your surgeon and the complexity of the procedure. Your surgeon may want you to stay in the clinic for a night afterwards to help manage your pain and any temporary side effects of surgery.

6. What is the recovery like after surgery?

After a gastric sleeve surgery, there is some pain the first day. The pain subsides by the next day, and most people feel sore and fatigued as their bodies work to recover.

Most doctors recommend anywhere between two to six weeks of recovery, downtime from work, and avoiding strenuous activities while you heal. Your doctor will give you detailed instructions for recovery, including dietary changes. These are some common recommendations:

Day 1-2:

After your surgery, you will continue with a liquid diet, over the next few days you will be able to gradually progress to a soft diet such as pureed foods. Any pain or nausea will be managed by your doctor’s recommended prescription.

Day 3-4:

By this time, you will be able to remove any bandages over your incisions, unless your doctor advises you otherwise. You may gently shower, but avoid baths, soaks in a hot tub, or swimming for one month. Pat your incisions dry, but do not rub them.

Day 5-7:

You will be able to start light activity such as walking. Continue with a liquid or soft meal diet unless advised otherwise by your doctor.

Week 2:

After two weeks, your doctor may request a follow-up consultation to make sure you are healthy and healing well. During this time, the incisions should be healing and may no longer need bandages and the pain should have subsided. You may slowly start to implement pureed and soft solid foods in your diet and continue with light physical activity.

Week 3:

By this time, pain should no longer be an issue. You should be able to start slowly testing solid foods and continue with light physical activity. Nausea or vomiting is common during the first few months following surgery, adjusting your diet will usually make you feel better.

Week 4-6:

During weeks 4-6, you will be able to transition into your normal activities and begin your new diet and exercise maintenance routine.

7. When will I see the results?

Patients lose most of their excess weight within the first six to nine months post-procedure. The amount of weight lost is dependent on current weight and compliance with the doctors’ orders. The average weight loss is 25% to 30% of your body weight in the first one to two years. There may be loose skin once the extra fat is gone, which may be surgically removed 18 months or after fully healing from gastric sleeve surgery.

8. How long do the results last?

As long as you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime, the results of your surgery will be permanent. However, based on the lifestyle habits you adopt after surgery, some people may lose less weight or regain some weight.

9. What are the risks of Gastric Sleeve?

Gastric Sleeve surgery is a minimal invasive procedure, however, with any surgery there are potential risks. Some gastric sleeve risks, side effects, or complications include:

  • Leakage from the staple line
  • Staple separation
  • Bleeding/ infection
  • Emergence of acid reflex
  • Can worsen or create new heartburn issues
  • Gallstones
  • Nutritional or vitamin deficiencies

10. How much does Gastric Sleeve cost in Canada?

The cost of gastric sleeve surgery depends on factors such as geographic location, the surgeon & their experience, and the complexity of your surgery. Typically, the surgery ranges from $11,000 – $20,000.