Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy Overview

If you are severely overweight, obesity surgery may be an option for you. Obesity surgery is also called bariatric surgery. Your doctor may recommend it if you have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 40. A BMI of greater than 40 typically means that you are about 100 pounds overweight. One of the newer options for bariatric surgery is called laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG).

The LSG procedure

LSG surgery is done in a hospital under general anesthesia. Your surgeon will make about five small cuts in your belly. He or she will do the surgery using a thin, long telescope with a tiny camera. Instruments pushed through the incisions will take out about 80 percent of your stomach. Your surgeon will do the procedure while watching images from the camera shown on a TV screen in the operating room.

This surgery takes out the part of your stomach that curves outward, called the fundus. After the fundus is taken out, your surgeon will close the rest of your stomach into a tube shape that looks like a banana. Because you will have a much smaller stomach, you will fill up quickly at mealtimes and eat less.

The fundus contains most of the glands in your stomach that secrete a hormone called ghrelin. Because ghrelin may be partly responsible for making you feel hungry, taking out this part of your stomach may also help you lose weight afterward.

LSG surgery takes about two hours. Most people stay in the hospital for about two days after surgery.

Reasons to consider LSG surgery

Here are some reasons why LSG may be right for you:

  • If you have a BMI of more than 60, LSG may be used as a first surgery to help you lose weight so you can then safely have a more extensive type of weight-loss surgery.

  • If you are older or have other risk factors for surgery like heart, lung, or liver problems, LSG may be a safer option for you than other longer and more complicated weight-loss surgeries.

  • If you have a BMI of about 40, your doctor may recommend LSG as a single weight-loss surgery. That's because it's less likely to cause side effects such as stomach ulcers or poor food absorption than other forms of weight-loss surgery.

Weight-loss benefits of LSG

In the first two years after LSG, most people will lose between 40 and 50 percent of their body weight. If your BMI before surgery is 60, you may lose about 125 pounds.

Studies also show that if you have obesity-related problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or high cholesterol, you have about a 75 percent chance that these conditions will also improve.

Risks of LSG surgery

Any surgery done under general anesthesia carries some risk for heart and brain damage, but these risks are quite low. LSG is a shorter procedure than other types of gastric bypass surgery, so these risks may be even lower. With LSG surgery you have a 5 to 10 percent risk for a complication such as:

  • Bleeding

  • Blood clot that forms in your leg and travels to your lung

  • Leaking of stomach juices

  • Narrowing down of the new stomach

  • Infection

  • Temporary kidney failure

To help protect against GI problems and weight regain, you should have careful follow-up past the third year after surgery.

Weight loss after LSG slows down after a few years, and your stomach may stretch and grow. For any bariatric surgery to succeed, you must make important lifestyle changes that include better nutrition and regular exercise.

Be sure to discuss any type of weight-loss surgery carefully with your doctor. Before surgery you will need to have a complete physical exam to make sure you are healthy enough to have the procedure. You should also receive nutritional and mental health counseling to make sure you are prepared for what to expect after surgery. 

Medical Reviewer: Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH Kidd, India, RN, BSN, MBA Last Annual Review Date: 2012-03-17 Copyright: © 2000-2012 Krames StayWell, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

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