If you’ve spent years struggling to lose weight with diet and exercise, it may be time to start exploring other options. Weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, can be a solution for people whose excess weight is negatively affecting their overall health and quality of life.
Gastric sleeve surgery is the most common bariatric surgery performed in the United States. It aids in weight loss by making your stomach smaller and decreasing the amount that you can eat. It’s not a “quick fix” for obesity. However, it can be a powerful first step towards reaching a healthy weight when everything else you’ve tried has failed.
This procedure, along with healthy diet and lifestyle changes, has helped many people lose 60% or more of their excess weight. Read on for a breakdown of what gastric sleeve surgery is, how you can qualify for it, and when it may be the right choice for you.
How do you qualify for gastric sleeve surgery?
Requirements for gastric sleeve surgery are the same as they are for other types of weight loss surgery. To qualify for this procedure, you must have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher OR have a BMI of 35 to 40 with at least one obesity-related health condition. This can include high blood pressure, heart disease, severe sleep apnea, or type 2 diabetes. Additionally, you should only consider bariatric surgery after you’ve tried losing weight through diet and exercise without success.
(Note: Gastric sleeve surgery is also sometimes recommended for patients who are too heavy to undergo other types of bariatric surgery, such as gastric bypass. Those people may eventually need to have a second weight loss surgery.)
If you’re a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery, your doctor will probably recommend mental health and nutritional counseling to prepare you for life after surgery. You will need to make permanent changes to your diet and lifestyle after your procedure. Your doctor may also ask you to participate in long-term follow-up appointments to monitor your progress.
Why is gastric sleeve surgery recommended?
Gastric sleeve surgery is only recommended for people with obesity that’s putting their health at risk and negatively affecting their lives. Excess weight can contribute to potentially life-threatening health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnea
Gastric sleeve surgery may help you lose enough weight to lower your risk of these obesity-related health conditions. It may also make it easier for you to get around and perform daily tasks, improving your quality of life. Patients can lose up to 60% of their excess weight within the first two years after their gastric sleeve surgery recovery.
What happens during a gastric sleeve procedure?
Gastric sleeve surgeries are typically performed laparoscopically. This means that instead of making a large incision in your stomach, the surgeon makes two to five smaller incisions. One of these is for a camera, which allows them to see into your abdomen. The others are for the instruments they need to perform the procedure.
During the surgery, the doctor will use a stapler to divide your stomach into two parts. They will then seal the edges between the two parts and remove the outer section. This procedure removes about 80% of the stomach, including a large portion of the fundus, which is the part responsible for creating the hormones that make you feel hungry.
After the surgery, the remaining part of your stomach will be about the size and shape of a banana. You’ll be given anesthesia before your procedure, and the surgery will take between one and two hours.
Many gastric sleeve surgeries are performed as inpatient procedures, meaning you stay a night or two in the hospital. However, an increasing number of these surgeries are now performed in outpatient surgery centers with safety and success rates similar to those performed in hospitals.
Click here to read our post about the safety of outpatient surgery centers.
Are there other weight loss surgery alternatives?
Gastric sleeve surgery is the most common weight loss procedure performed in the United States. However, it’s not your only option. The two main alternatives to gastric sleeve surgery are:
- Gastric bypass surgery: Also called Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, this surgery is a much more complicated option. During a gastric bypass procedure, a surgeon creates a small pouch in the stomach and connects it directly to the small intestine. Though this surgery can lead to greater weight loss than gastric sleeve surgery, it also comes with a higher risk of complications and malnutrition.
- Lap band surgery: During this surgery, a doctor places a band around the upper part of the stomach to create a small pouch that limits the amount of food it can hold. Gastric banding used to be a very common weight loss procedure. However, its popularity has steadily declined in recent years because of high rates of long-term complications and unsuccessful weight loss.
Finding a fair cost for your gastric sleeve surgery
There are many factors that can affect the cost of your gastric sleeve surgery, including the surgeon and healthcare facility that you choose. If you’ve already started researching this procedure, you may have realized how difficult it is to find actual cost information from hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, and even your own insurance company.
New Choice Health’s Bariatric Surgery Assistance program can help you find a fair, easy-to-understand price for your gastric sleeve surgery. Whether you have health insurance or not, you may be eligible for cash pay discounts and financing options that can help you pay less for your procedure. Learn more about how our Patient Assist program can help you find an affordable price for your gastric sleeve surgery today.