The Truth About Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Surgeons have been perfecting bariatric surgery procedures for decades. They have come a long way from the days when a gastric bypass was really the only option. Now, there are a variety of surgical approaches, which allow surgeons to recommend the one that they think will work best for an individual patient. One that gets recommended a lot is the gastric sleeve procedure. It's a simpler surgery than most, and patients tend to get great long-term results with it. Unfortunately, though, there are some untruths that sometimes creep up in conversations about gastric sleeve surgery, and this article will clear some of those up.

Untruth: Gastric sleeve involves putting a sleeve around your stomach.

The Truth: It's easy to see where this misconception comes from. The name of the surgery does make it sound like the stomach would be placed inside a sleeve. But actually, the name comes from the fact that the stomach is reduced to a sleeve. A narrow, sleeve-like portion of the stomach is sectioned off for the food to go through. Essentially, this reduces the size of the stomach so the patient gets full a lot faster.

Untruth: You have to worry about contents leaking between the staples.

The Truth: Although patients are often concerned that stomach contents will leak through and past the line of staples in the stomach, this doesn't really happen. The surgeon will use three rows of very high-quality staples to seal off the sleeve portion of the stomach. Some surgeons even follow this up with a row of stitching. All of this is to say that the stomach sleeve is sealed off very securely, so leaks aren't something to be concerned about as long as you're careful not to overeat.

Untruth: Gastric sleeve surgery often leads to nutrient deficiencies.

The Truth: Actually, one reason why gastric sleeve surgery is often recommended over other procedures, like gastric bypass, is that it is less likely to lead to nutrient deficiencies. Your stomach does not absorb nutrients from your food. Your small intestine does. Gastric sleeve surgery reduces the size of the stomach, but the food still goes through your entire small intestine so nutrients can be effectively absorbed from the food. You will need to eat nutrient-rich foods to get the nutrition you need, but that's true of anyone. Other procedures, including gastric bypass, do cause the food to pass part of the small intestine, so nutrient deficiencies can be more of an issue with these surgeries.

If you're considering gastric sleeve surgery, remember to rely on a local surgeon as a primary source of information. They are the ones best poised to help you decide if this surgery is a smart choice for you.