Sleeve gastrectomy is performed laparoscopically under general anesthesia in a hospital operating room. In rare cases complications may cause the surgeon to opt for more traditional 'open' bariatric surgery, requiring a larger incision in the patient's abdomen to gain access to the stomach.
In the more normal procedure, a small 'keyhole' incision is made in the patient's abdomen and the surgeon uses specialized tools to remove a large portion of the widest part of the patient's stomach. Once the excess stomach tissue is removed, the open edges of the remaining portion of the stomach are stapled together, forming a banana-shaped tube or 'sleeve.'
The gastric sleeve procedure reduces the size of the stomach to about 15% to 30% of its original capacity and relieves the patient of the part of the stomach that produces the appetite stimulating hormone 'Grehlin.' Gastric sleeve surgery permanently reduces the size of the stomach and is not reversible.
Gastric sleeve surgery leaves the stomach's connections to the esophagus and intestines intact, reducing the risk of complications and relieving many patients of irritating acid reflux reactions that can stem from other bariatric procedures. Because the gastric sleeve procedure does not involve interrupting and reconnecting the digestive tract as in gastric bypass surgery, it is seen as less invasive, with fewer complications and quicker recovery times than required by more radical weight-loss surgeries.
Gastric sleeve patients can expect the surgery to be completed in about one hour and will spend about 4 nights in the hospital to allow the surgical team to monitor post-operative progress.