Gastric sleeve surgery, also referred to as the “sleeve gastrectomy,” is a popular choice for the patient seeking weight loss who doesn’t want or require the potential long-term complication rates of lap band surgery.
In 2010, the first major insurance company added the sleeve gastrectomy to the covered list of weight loss surgeries. Since that time, most other large insurance companies in the United States followed suit. Over the past few years, gastric sleeves have become the fastest-growing type of bariatric surgery.
History of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Insurance companies have approved gastric sleeve surgery in Florida because of the medical evidence showing significant weight loss and low complication rates.
Individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 45 have increased risks during any surgical procedure.
Other weight loss surgeries lasting two to four hours under anesthesia may place the patients at greater risk. For instance, a gastric bypass surgery may require two hours or more, and a duodenal switch surgery may take more than four hours.
To reduce the time needed to complete weight loss procedures, bariatric surgeons separated the process into two steps. The first step involved reducing the patient’s stomach size. When the patient loses weight over a year or so, the surgeon would bypass the patient’s intestinal system to reduce his or her calorie absorption.
However, when many patients returned a year later, they’d shed so many pounds that the second step was unnecessary.
Scientific studies, such as “Randomized clinic trial of laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass vs. laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy for management of patients with BMI of greater than 50 kg/m2” showed that complication rates for patients with higher BMIs were low and patients had similar or better results than with gastric bypass surgery. Because gastric sleeve surgery required less time under anesthesia and was a less complex procedure to perform, surgeons also preferred it.
Patients reported they liked gastric sleeve surgery. After the procedure, and often for many months afterward, patients reported they were less hungry. Some said they needed reminders to eat.
As word-of-mouth feedback spread, some patients asked their physicians about the procedure.
Medical research later showed that ghrelin, the hunger-producing hormone, is lowered in the gastric sleeve patient. Researchers believe that removal of gastric tissue during the gastric sleeve surgery is responsible for the production of ghrelin.
Potential Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Scientific studies and medical research show that gastric sleeve surgery:
• Most, but not all, patients report they’re less hungry after gastric sleeve surgery.
• Shorter time required to complete the procedure when compared to gastric bypass.
• No need to re-route the patient’s intestinal system.
• Patients report “no dumping syndrome.” This is because the patient’s pylorus is intact. The intestines are untouched.
• No later adjustments are necessary. For instance, a lap band will require doctor visits and adjustments. In addition, the silicone band remains in the patient’s upper stomach area. Patients with a lap band report gradual weight loss over a three-year period.
• Steady weight loss with gastric sleeve surgery occurs slowly, over an 18-month period, compared to gastric bypass weight loss that occurs more quickly over a 12-month period.