Gastric sleeve surgery is a safe procedure that can help you lose a significant amount of weight. The technique is reserved for obese or morbidly obese individuals who have trouble dropping pounds the traditional way. For years, the gastric sleeve has been a favorite of celebrities and everyday people alike. Once you have the procedure, the weight tends to come off quickly. Most people lose between 5 to 15 pounds a week during the first month, and it’s not unusual to experience a 50% drop in weight within the first six months.
Not only is the gastric sleeve effective at helping you achieve a healthy weight in a fast and healthy manner, but the surgery has also been known to reverse obesity-related ailments like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and osteoarthritis. What’s more? The surgery requires very tiny incisions, results in nearly invisible scars. The procedure is no more dangerous than your typical laparoscopic gallbladder surgery.
The Procedure Explained
The surgery itself is also laparoscopic, which means that all the action occurs inside your abdomen. There is no reason for your surgeon to cut you open like other surgeries, which is another testament to the safety of the procedure. Your surgeon will make inch-long incisions, whereby a laparoscopic camera and other tools will be inserted, and the surgery takes no more than around an hour to complete.
During the procedure, around 80% of your stomach will be removed. The stomach tissue that is left behind is shaped into a banana-shaped pouch or “sleeve”. This is where the surgery gets its name. That sleeve is where you will store the food you eat, which forces you to eat less than before. The removal of a majority of your stomach tissue also affects the production of leptin and, consequently, ghrelin, which is the body’s hunger hormone. Your body will make better use of insulin and you’ll feel less hungry. Many patients report their cravings for junk food also subside. All of this contributes to healthy and substantial weight loss, and 90% of patients are satisfied with the results. In fact, when asked, most patients would go back and repeat the surgery in a heartbeat.
Steps to Take Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery
When considering the gastric sleeve for weight loss, you may not know where to begin. The first step is to consult a bariatric surgeon. Bariatrics is the science of helping individuals defeat obesity through medical means. Gastric sleeve is a type of bariatric surgery. Other procedures included under this category include the lap band (laparoscopic band) and gastric bypass (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass). Before you can opt for the gastric sleeve, your bariatric surgeon will need to give you a physical examination. The surgeon will ask you questions pertaining to your health history and background of past weight loss efforts.
You should also ask some questions of your own. The answers you receive will A) let you know if you are a good candidate for gastric sleeve; B) help you build a better rapport with your doctor, letting you know your health is in good hands; and C) help you better understand what you have to look forward from the day of surgery to the great beyond, when all that weight begins to melt away.
Here are some questions to keep in mind during your initial consultation once you’ve done your homework to find your area’s best bariatric surgeon.
Questions to Ask Before Opting for the Gastric Sleeve
1.Is the Gastric Sleeve Right for Me?
The gastric sleeve (your doctor may also call it the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy (LSG) or vertical sleeve gastrectomy) is reserved for individuals with a body mass index over 40. BMIs of 35 and above are also considered if one or more weight-related conditions are present. Your doctor will provide you with a physical examination, which includes a measurement of your body mass index. This examination determines how much excess body weight you are carrying. A diagnosis of obesity or morbid obesity will often qualify you for the gastric sleeve.
2. Are Medical Tests Necessary Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Aside from a physical examination, your bariatric surgeon will require you to undergo psychological testing as well. Losing 50%, 60%, or more of your excess weight isn’t as cut and dry as it seems. Sure, you’ll have more mobility and be able to fit into smaller-sized clothes. However, you may also experience emotions you never considered. You may receive unwanted attention after the weight begins to come off, for example, and many people may want to know how you managed to lose so much weight. This can create anxiety and, in some cases, depression. A psych evaluation by a qualified expert can ensure you are mentally prepared to handle the weight loss and all the benefits to your life that come along with it.
3. What Can You Expect After Surgery?
The day of surgery can be tough on your nerves, which is understandable. But you have so much to look forward to afterward. Before the weight can fall off and prior to beginning your new lifestyle, you will need to spend a short time healing.
The fact that the surgery is laparoscopic in nature means that it’s easier on your body than an “open” surgery might be. You can expect to spend around a day or two in the hospital, but you’ll be up and walking around within four hours of having surgery. You can also shower within a day of having surgery, which makes your hospital stay more comfortable.
Your body will need to adjust to the bodily changes made during surgery. Because your stomach is now smaller, it’s important to introduce solid foods slowly to avoid digestive problems. Your bariatric surgeon will place you on a liquid diet for a week or two, whereby you can begin introducing soft and then more solid foods 30 days after surgery.
You should be driving and working (with light activity only) after 30 days as well. You won’t be able to lift anything heavier than 20 pounds until your surgeon tells you it’s okay.
4. How Much Weight Loss Can You Expect?
Thinking about how much weight you are going to lose is the most enjoyable aspect of considering the gastric sleeve. Most patients lose between 50% to 80% of their excess body weight within the first year. If you are 100 pounds overweight, you can expect to lose 50, 60, or up to 80 pounds or more. Just think of how you’ll look and feel without all the extra weight getting in your way. That should push you over the fence to consider the gastric sleeve, which is why hundreds of thousands of people undergo the procedure every year.
5. Does the Gastric Sleeve Come with Risks?
The risk associated with gastric sleeve is one subject your bariatric surgeon will spend a considerable time discussing with you. It’s important that you understand the risks so that you know what to expect just in case any complications do occur. In general, risks for major complications after the sleeve gastrectomy fall into the 3% range (or less). Complications after surgery can include infection (which can occur with any surgery), bleeding, blood clots in the lungs or legs, and leakage from the stomach or bowel. Complications from anesthesia are also possible, which can include heart attack and death.
These complications aren’t just reserved for the gastric sleeve. They are risks associated with most surgeries performed on the abdomen.
That being said, gastric sleeve surgery is very safe and commonly performed. In fact, experts have called it the most effective means of treating severe obesity. And it’s also a valid treatment for obesity-related ailments like type 2 diabetes.
6. Is Fertility and Pregnancy Affected by Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Studies have shown that being obese can negatively affect fertility in both men and women. For maternal-age women, obesity can make it difficult to get pregnant and can bring about difficulties during pregnancy if she does conceive.
Weight loss surgery such as the gastric sleeve has been shown to improve fertility in men and women. Achieving a healthy weight post-surgery can make for easier pregnancies and lowers the risks for mother and baby. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, your bariatric surgeon will suggest that you weigh 12 to 18 months before becoming pregnant. You will also be evaluated regularly to ensure a lack of complications. This includes nutritional deficiencies, which is a common concern among post-bariatric women who fall pregnant after surgery.
7. How Much Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cost? Does Insurance Cover the Procedure?
The cost of gastric sleeve surgery can be a major deterrent for many people. However, you will be happy to know that the cost associated with the sleeve gastrectomy isn’t as expensive as you may think. According to the ASMBS (American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery), the average cost of LSG (laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy) ranges between $17,000 and $26,000. The cost includes the surgical facility fees, surgeon’s fees, anesthesia, and others. While you may associate an expense like that with a fancy new car, there are some considerations that can make the fees associated with surgery more payable, even if you consider yourself fiscally conservative.
Because the gastric sleeve tends to reduce or eliminate obesity-related conditions and their associated treatments, the ASMBS estimates that you can realistically hope to recover the costs of surgery within 2 to 4 years. What’s more, the organization also states that you should be able to reduce the healthcare costs you normally would have paid into the medical system on account of your obesity by 29%. Not only that, but gastric sleeve patients who successfully lose weight tend to be more productive workers, gaining an average of $2,765 more a year. By having weight loss surgery, you will save and earn more money. It will allow you to better afford your weight loss procedure.
Your out-of-pocket expenses associated with the gastric sleeve will be dramatically lowered if health insurance picks up the tab. Insurance typically pays over 80% of the fees, which brings down the amount you have to pay to around $3,500. Work with your bariatric surgeon to ensure you have your insurance paperwork filled out in its entirety to quicken the process of getting your claim covered.
More insurance policies are coming around to the fact that weight loss surgery is no way close to being cosmetic in nature. It’s a life-saving surgery (weight loss surgery can cut your chances of early death by one-third over five years). However, in the off-chance that your policy denies you coverage or doesn’t cover bariatrics at all, medical financing is available. Companies like CareCredit and Prosper Healthcare Lending will cover your procedure, allowing you to pay your surgery off over time with low-interest rates and other attractive terms.
Now that you have the questions to ask, the next step is to schedule a consultation with a qualified bariatric surgeon.
Get Your Questions Answered in Los Angeles at Healthy Life Bariatrics
Healthy Life Bariatrics has helped many patients around Los Angeles, Glendale and Encino achieve a healthy weight with sleeve gastrectomy. Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki can help you too. By opting for the gastric sleeve, you can lose the excess weight, reverse weight-related ailments, and go on to live a happier, healthier, and longer life.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Moeinolmolki offers telemedicine consultations. These web-chat-based meetings will help you determine if you are a good candidate for surgery and will pave the way for an in-person meeting. Get started by calling Dr. Moeinolmolki and his accredited surgical team at (310)694-4486.