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Gastric sleeve surgery

3-minute read

Gastric sleeve surgery, or sleeve gastrectomy, is surgery for weight loss that involves removal of a large part of your stomach. After the surgery, you will feel full after eating a small amount of food.

You might also feel less hungry because your smaller stomach will produce lower levels of a hormone called ghrelin, which causes hunger.

When should I consider gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve is a form of bariatric surgery, also called weight loss surgery, and you should only consider gastric sleeve surgery after trying alternatives.

The first step is usually to try changes to your food intake and your daily activity and exercise. There are also some medications that can help people lose weight. Surgery is usually thought about only after these other options have been tried.

Losing weight after gastric sleeve surgery can help reduce problems with type 2 diabetes, asthma episodes and blood pressure, and can help improve heart health.

How do I prepare for gastric sleeve surgery?

You are likely to need different tests to make sure that gastric sleeve surgery is right for you.

Your doctor will advise you about any changes you need to make to medications and your diet in the weeks or days before surgery. And you will need to stop eating and drinking the night before you have the surgery.

What happens during gastric sleeve surgery?

The keyhole surgery is done while you are under a general anaesthetic.

Your surgeon will use a stapling device to create a small tube or 'sleeve' in your stomach, then remove the rest of your stomach.

After surgery, your stomach will hold only about a tenth of what it did before.

illustration of a gastric sleeve
During gastric sleeve surgery, a large part of the stomach is removed

What can I expect after the procedure?

After the surgery, you'll start with liquid foods. Over the next few weeks you will change to pureed food, then to solid food. Your meals will be much smaller and you may have to stop drinking with meals due to your small stomach.

You will need to make significant lifestyle changes after bariatric surgery to lose weight and keep it off. For example, you'll get nutritional advice from a dietitian on how to change your eating habits to keep healthy while losing weight.

Your meals will be much smaller than before. And you'll probably take vitamins or other supplements for life.

You will also have to, and be able to, increase the amount of physical activity you do.

What can go wrong?

This is usually a safe procedure. Sometimes people can have bleeding or leakage of fluid from the stomach.

You might find that the sleeve expands over time, causing you to regain some of the lost weight.

Talk to your doctor about the risks of the procedure.

More information

Visit our guide to bariatric surgery to learn more about the different types of bariatric procedure.

Also, be sure to ask your doctor any questions you might have about gastric sleeve surgery.

Last reviewed: February 2017

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