What is the Sleeve Gastrectomy?
The Sleeve Gastrectomy (also referred to as the Gastric Sleeve, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, Partial Gastrectomy, or Tube Gastrectomy) is a relatively new procedure for weight loss. It involves the permanent removal of 85-90% of the stomach, performed under a General Anaesthetic using advanced laparoscopic keyhole surgery.
Although the physical size of the stomach is reduced, the normal direction of the food stream through the stomach and the rest of the intestinal tract is not altered. This means that all nutrients including vitamins, minerals and protein will continue to be absorbed normally. It simply reduces the holding capacity from about 1.5 litres of food and liquid to approximately 200mls. This allows a person to feel comfortably satisfied and full with a meal size approximately equivalent to a cup of food.
Typically, Sleeve Gastrectomy patients will have between 4-6 small meals per day, which is actually the ideal way to eat. Dietitians recommend small frequent meals as a way of avoiding big swings in Insulin levels and achieving a more even intake of calories as part of a healthier eating pattern.
Despite being smaller, the stomach sleeve still functions normally- food and nutrients continue to enter and leave in the same way, acid continues to be made to assist in digestion, and essential vitamins and minerals such as B12, calcium, folate and iron can be absorbed normally.
How does it work?
The Sleeve Gastrectomy appears to work in three distinct ways:
- The major reduction in stomach capacity allows patients to become full and satisfied with a much smaller meal, providing portion control.
- Levels of the hunger hormone Ghrelin are reduced by 50-65%, as the removed part of the stomach is rich in cells that make that hormone. Patients consistently report feeling less hungry between their meals as a result of this.
- There appears to be a change in way that fatty foods are handled by the digestive track- patients frequently report losing their taste for foods high in sugar and fat such as chocolate, fried food and soft drink, which seem to make them feel more bloated, unsettled, or queasy. Dietitians like this aspect of the Sleeve- it helps patients adopt healthier eating habits.