What is a Gastric Sleeve? Weight Loss Surgery Explained.

Are you struggling to lose weight? Is your weight gain causing you health problems? Are you a candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy? You may have heard about weight loss surgery, and wonder just what is a gastric sleeve? We hope that you can better understand if weight loss surgery is right for you, and how it might help you live a better, healthier life.

Why Is Losing Weight Important?

The world now recognises obesity as a chronic disease. The human body is a complex organism and obesity is a complex condition. You may have tried many different ways to lose weight. However, sometimes diet and exercise alone don’t work. It is important that you don’t give up trying to lose weight as obesity has life-threatening health consequences, including increasing your risk of developing:

  • Heart Disease
  • Hypertension
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
  • Stroke
  • Back and Joint problems
  • Increased risk of some cancers

Did you know that if you have a BMI of greater than 40, that your life expectancy is reduced by 8 to 10 years? Losing weight helps to reduce the risk of developing obesity-related complications. Equally importantly, it can reverse the impact of health problems you may have already acquired due to this excess weight.

Weight loss surgery was first performed in the 1950s to help people achieve their weight loss goals. The surgical technique has evolved and has been revolutionised with the incorporation of laparoscopic (keyhole surgery) techniques. This enables surgeons to perform safer and more effective weight loss procedures. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is now the most common weight loss procedure worldwide.

What is a Gastric Sleeve Procedure and How Does it Work?

The gastric sleeve was originally known as the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. The gastric sleeve procedure involves removing about 80 percent of your stomach. The stomach is reduced from a big floppy bag which can hold up to 2 litres, to a small tube which only has the capacity of about 150mls. With its reduced size, your stomach has less ability to expand. So, even after a very small meal, you feel fuller much quicker.

Additionally and more importantly, the operation causes many metabolic changes in your gut which promote weight loss. For example, ghrelin is a hormone produced in the stomach and signals the brain to tell you if you are hungry. By removing the majority of the stomach it removes the ‘hunger hormone’ and this suppresses your appetite. The levels of other hormones such as GLP-1 and PYY are also altered which helps promote the feeling of fullness and help glucose (sugar) metabolism.

Why is the Sleeve So Popular?

Gastric sleeve surgery has been performed in Australia for over ten years and has quickly become the most commonly performed weight loss procedure. This is so for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a ‘safe’ operation. Although all surgeries have potential complications, the overall safety profile of the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is similar to a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (removal of the gall bladder).

Secondly, it is successful. On average patients lose around 60 percent of their excess weight. Not only do patients successfully lose weight, and keep it off, but their health concerns also improve, such as pushing diabetes into remission!

Thirdly, following surgery, people can live a healthy normal life. You are able to eat a normal meal, albeit in much smaller quantities. However, as with all weight loss surgeries, patients can achieve better long-term results by incorporating a change in lifestyle. Healthy eating favouring whole foods which are nutrient-rich and less calorie-laden is very important. Low-carbohydrate, high-protein and moderate healthy fat intake supplements the procedure and helps to achieve sustained weight loss.

Your GP, the dietitian, the psychologist and the exercise physiologist are all as important as your Surgeon. Their common goal is your successful weight loss journey. A path towards a better, healthier life.

Watch a Video About the Sleeve Gastrectomy

Do you wonder “What is a Gastric Sleeve?” Find out more information on this surgery, and watch a short video explaining how the procedure takes place.

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