Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy FAQ

In a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve, approximately 75 percent of the stomach is removed permanently, leaving a cylindrical or sleeve-shaped stomach. The outlet valve and the nerves to the stomach remain intact.

While the stomach is drastically reduced in size, its function is preserved. Surgery takes about two hours and patients typically stay in the hospital for two days. Most patients are able to return to work after two weeks.

Advantages of the gastric sleeve:

  • The final weight loss may not as large as with gastric bypass. However, this may be enough for many patients. Because vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a newer procedure, there is less data about the long-term benefits and risks. The weight will usually come off more slowly than with gastric bypass. Patients should keep losing weight for up to 2-3 years.
  • Losing enough weight after surgery can improve many medical conditions, including asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, high cholesterol and gastroesophageal disease (GERD).
  • Weighing less should also make it much easier to move around and do everyday activities.
  • This surgery alone is not a solution to losing weight. It can train patients to eat less, but they still have to do much of the work. To lose weight and avoid complications from the procedure, patients will need to follow the exercise and eating guidelines from a doctor and dietitian.

Risks of the gastric sleeve are:

  • Injury to stomach, intestines or other organs during surgery
  • Leaking from the line where parts of the stomach have been stapled together
  • Scarring inside the belly. This could lead to an obstruction (blockage) in the bowel in the future.
  • Gastritis (inflamed stomach lining), heartburn or stomach ulcers
  • Poor nutrition
  • Vomiting from eating more than the stomach pouch can hold

Additional Information
Additional information can be obtained from MedlinePlus and  the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.