A bariatric surgery sleeve is the result of sleeve gastrectomy surgery, a bariatric procedure for patients who struggle with obesity. Bariatric surgery is usually the last resource among the several medically-supervised weight loss programs, which also include behavioral changes with diet and exercise, pre-packed meals and pharmacotherapy. Patients who are submitted to weight loss surgery usually have been diagnosed with obesity and already tried but failed in previous attempts to lose weight.

Undergoing weight loss surgery should be discussed with a physician to evaluate if a patient is eligible. In addition, there are numerous different procedures to choose from, and sleeve gastrectomy surgery is the most aggressive approach, which includes both benefits and disadvantages. While in other types of bariatric surgery the stomach is constricted or the digestive process is temporarily altered, in a sleeve gastrectomy surgery the stomach is permanently reduced.

How And When Is A Bariatric Surgery Sleeve Created?

The bariatric surgery sleeve is created during sleeve gastrectomy, which means that the surgeon removes up to 90% of the stomach. The procedure can be performed as open surgery or laparoscopic surgery, the latter being more common. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy consists of making five to six small incisions in the abdomen, and using them to insert both surgical instruments and a small camera called a laparoscope. The camera transmits images of the abdomen to increase visibility and precision.

During the surgery, the surgeon vertically divides the stomach into two parts, which results in a small pouch resembling a sleeve or a banana. The pouch is then stapled and the excess removed. The overall surgery will take about 60 to 90 minutes and it does not involve the removal or alteration of the sphincter muscles, which are responsible for the food intake.

What Is The Purpose Of A Bariatric Surgery Sleeve?

The sleeve that is created during the surgery is just the normal stomach, but at a reduced size, since it has been enlarged due to excessive eating. The sleeve does not alter the normal digestive process, but the small pouch will fill more quickly than the previous stomach, which means that the patient will feel full faster with smaller amounts of food. Therefore, the surgery is classified as restrictive, as it limits food intake, without altering the digestive system’s normal function.

The sleeve gastrectomy is meant to help patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 40 or higher than 35 and a comorbidity like type 2 diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea. However, it does not provoke weight loss automatically. Patients need to be committed to lifestyle alterations, including diet and exercise. The sleeve cannot be reversed and weight loss usually occurs during the two to three years after the surgery. In addition to weight loss, patients may improve medical conditions like asthma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and gastroesophageal disease (GERD).

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