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Gastric Sleeve: Your Questions Answered

Once you’ve decided to have bariatric surgery, you’re faced with the choice of which type. The common types of weight loss surgery each have different pros and cons. Here’s what you need to know about a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy or gastric sleeve.

What does a gastric sleeve do?

A gastric sleeve is an operation that removes about 80% of your stomach, effectively turning the stomach into a small tube that looks a bit like a banana.

How does a gastric sleeve help you lose weight?

A gastric sleeve operation makes your stomach quite small, meaning that you feel full after eating only a small portion of food. In addition to feeling full after less food, you’ll probably also feel less hungry to begin with. That’s because a gastric sleeve reduces your production of ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

How do you qualify for a gastric sleeve?

It’s usually based on your body mass index (BMI) and the presence of obesity-related conditions.Your BMI is used to determine whether you are a healthy weight for your height. There are many online BMI calculators which will give you a result. You can find one on the home page of our website.

Generally, if your BMI is more than 40, you would immediately qualify for obesity surgery. If your BMI is 35-40, you may qualify if you also have an obesity-related condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol. In some cases, you may qualify for surgery even with a lower BMI.

The other important qualification is your willingness to change your lifestyle and follow the medical advice you receive to ensure you receive proper nutrition and achieve and maintain the weight loss you’re hoping for.

You would not qualify for obesity surgery if you can’t have a general anaesthetic, are not of sound mind, or have active drug or alcohol abuse.

How successful is gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery has been shown to have many benefits including:

How much weight do you lose after a gastric sleeve?

Studies show that patients tend to lose about 60% of their excess body weight and maintain this for at least 5 years after surgery.

Your excess body weight refers to the kilos you’re carrying above a healthy weight for your height. Let’s say a healthy weight for you would be 65kg but you currently weigh 110kg. That means you have 45kg of excess weight. If you had a gastric sleeve and lost 60% of your excess weight, you’d lose 27kg, taking your weight down to a healthier 82kg.You’re still above your ideal weight but you’re significantly lighter than you were, resulting in improved vitality and quality of life and reducing your obesity-related health risks.

Can you put the weight back on after gastric sleeve surgery?

Yes. Surgery kickstarts your weight loss but to continue on the journey, you’ll need to make permanent lifestyle changes such as:

  • Eating smaller portions
  • Eating healthy foods that nourish your body without high calories
  • Exercising and being physically active.

We know that lifestyle change is hard. That’s why we support you after surgery with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who can help you develop healthy habits.

How long does it take to recover from gastric sleeve surgery?

You might stay 1-2 nights in hospital after your gastric sleeve surgery. It’s usually keyhole surgery meaning you only have small incision wounds but it’s still made a significant change to your body and you need to take it easy afterwards.You’ll be living on a liquid or pureed diet initially but should be able to eat normal food after the first month. You’ll also need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to ensure your body is properly nourished.

The 3-6 months after surgery are usually a time of rapid weight loss. During this time, you may feel tired and moody and notice body aches.

Can you eat normally after a gastric sleeve?

Not immediately. We start you off on a liquid diet, then you progress to pureed food. After a month, you can usually start eating solid food.But it shouldn’t be the diet you were used to before. To get the most from your surgery, you need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Take full advantage of your new lack of appetite to get into the right eating and exercising habits that will help you keep the weight off in the long run.

During the initial recovery period, you need to take in the appropriate amount of calories, protein and vitamins in order to avoid feeling ill, weak and possibly losing some hair. Protein is important as it helps you maintain muscle bulk, meaning you lose fat, not muscle.

What are the risks of gastric sleeve?

Any surgical procedure carries risk. The common risks of a gastric sleeve include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Clots
  • A staple line leak or bleed
  • A hernia
  • Death (though this is extremely rare).

After the procedure, as you return to your daily life, you may experience vitamin and mineral deficiencies (remedied with supplements), insufficient weight loss or loose skin from rapid weight loss.These risks all have to be weighed against the risks of obesity. Bariatric surgery is a well-tested tool to help you achieve a healthy weight.

Do you live longer after bariatric surgery?

Hopefully. As noted above, obesity increases your risk for many serious diseases and health conditions including cancer and heart disease.

It also reduces your quality of life, since you’re likely to be living with a number of obesity-related conditions and likely to tire easily. Patients often tell us that their weight means they miss out on many fun things they’d like to do – perhaps one reason why obesity is linked to depression.

The Swedish Obese Subjects Study compared 2000 obese people who had bariatric surgery with 2000 similar people who didn’t. The results showed that the surgery group lived longer and experienced lower rates of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer.

Explore Your Options

If you’d like to learn more about gastric sleeve surgery, then please book a free consultation with our Perioperative Nurse Surgical Assistant, Shirley Lockie. We’d love to help you explore your weight loss options.


All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.


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