Gastric sleeve surgery, or gastric sleeve resection, is one of the newer types of bariatric surgery. This surgery can also be referred to as sleeve gastrectomy, vertical sleeve gastrectomy, tube gastrectomy and laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy.
During this procedure a bariatric surgeon removes about 85 percent of the stomach so that it takes the shape of a tube or sleeve. This operation is performed laparoscopically, meaning that the surgeon makes small incisions as opposed to one large incision. He or she inserts a viewing tube with a small camera (laparoscope) and other tiny instruments into these small incisions to remove part of the stomach. The tube-shaped stomach that is left is sealed closed with staples.
In some cases, gastric sleeve surgery may be followed by a gastric bypass surgery or duodenal switch surgery after a person has lost a significant amount of weight. Called a “staged” approach to weight loss surgery, this makes the second procedure less risky than it would have been had it been the first and only procedure. The timing of the second surgery varies according to the degree of weight loss. It usually occurs within six to 18 months after the initial surgery.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
No reliable statistics exist yet for how many of these procedures have been done. The current scientific literature supports use of sleeve gastrectomy as a primary bariatric procedure. This means that the indications for the sleeve are the same as other covered procedures such as gastric bypass or adjustable gastric banding. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) requires a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40. This is the equivalent of being about 100 pounds overweight for men and 80 pounds overweight for women. People with BMIs between 35 and 39 may also be candidates for weight loss surgery if they have obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. A BMI takes height and weight into account to measure body fatness. A BMI of 30 or higher in adults is considered obese.