Gastric sleeve results vary from patient to patient, but nearly all of them have similar outcomes – there is a transformation of the body, both physically and mentally.
Gastric sleeve surgery involves complete removal of a large portion of the stomach – typically 85%. Also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the VSG surgical procedure creates restriction which causes patients to be more full while eating less food.
Most patients think that they will be constantly hungry but not able to eat enough food to fill themselves up. Contrary to belief, a significant portion of the stomach is removed where a majority of the hunger hormone known as Ghrelin resides – making patients feel fuller and more comfortable for longer periods of time while not being as hungry throughout the day.
Here we will dissect real-life gastric sleeve patient’s outcomes and results, along with risks, problems, and complications.
Weight Loss Results
For gastric sleeve patients, weight loss results come extremely fast and patients can usually reach their Goal Weight (GW) in the first two years. It can be as long as a few days before patients can see results from gastric sleeve surgery.
- 6 months: 45% excess weight loss*
- 1 year: 65% excess weight loss*
- 3 years: 55% excess weight loss*
- 5 years: 53% excess weight loss*
Excess weight is defined as the amount of weight you have over the normal BMI (body mass index) range.
Keep in mind the different variables that affect patients after gastric sleeve surgery. In the first year, patients usually lose weight no matter what. At year 2-5, adapting to a healthy lifestyle is critical because cravings slowly return and the body adjusts to the sleeve stomach.
After year 5 and on, patients need to surround their environment with a healthy diet, positive nutrition, and physical activity. Every day needs to be a conscious decision to continue a healthy lifestyle. Patients must stay motivated and determined to stay healthy.
List of Health Benefits of Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Obesity is one of the most deadly and costly health problems in the United States. Gastric sleeve surgery is more effective than both diet and exercise while being one of the safest weight loss procedures available today (more than gastric bypass, lap band, and duodenal switch).
Gastric sleeve results include a variety of health benefits depending on the patient’s health.
Health Benefits Include
- Complete remission or improvement in Type 2 Diabetes
- Improved cardiovascular health
- A significant decrease in high blood pressure
- Relief of self-confidence and depression
- Eliminate or improve obstructive sleep apnea
- Relieving joint pain
- Improve fertility and eliminate PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Gastric Sleeve Problems (Risks and Complications)
Although gastric sleeve is one of the safest procedures for its level of effectiveness, there are some potential problems that may arise. After all, it is a surgical procedure. The risk of death for gastric sleeve surgery is 0.08% within 30 days following surgery.1 This is dependent on the location of surgery and surgeon experience.
In order to reduce the risks involved, it’s important to follow your doctor, surgeon, and nutritionist recommendations.
It’s important to remember that gastric sleeve surgery is a very serious surgical procedure.
There are some risks and complications that may occur after gastric sleeve surgery. These are dependent on the patient’s adjustment to their new lifestyle and the surgeon’s expertise.
- Hemorrhage or Bleeding
- Staple line leak
- Stomach Stricture
- GERD or Acid Reflux
- Nutrient Deficiency (requires vitamins)
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Hair Loss (in the first year)
- Blood Clots
- Dumping Syndrome
- Sleeve stretch
Gastric Sleeve Scars
Gastric sleeve surgery is the most commonly available weight loss procedure. Surgeons experience continues to grow because of the number of patients seeking the VSG. The surgeon’s expertise and the patient’s ability to follow the pre-op diet determines the number of incisions needed to complete the surgery.
In most cases, a highly-qualified surgeon and a patient who follows the liver-shrinking pre-op diet has a better chance of having less than 5 total incisions during surgery.
Gastric sleeve surgery is performed laparoscopically, resulting in 1-5 small incisions on the abdomen. After surgery, these incisions are typically small and in many cases aren’t that noticeable.
Hair Loss After Gastric Sleeve
Hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery is common within the first year after surgery as the body starts adapting to the smaller stomach. The hair loss is specifically called telogen effluvium which can be caused by reduced food intake creating nutrient deficiencies, especially in protein, iron, and essential fatty acids.
In order to understand hair loss, it’s important to understand the hair growth’s two-stage cycle. Almost all of the patient’s hair follicles remain in the first phase, called anagen. The additional 10-15% of hair stays in a “resting phase”, meaning the hair follicles are dormant. During certain times in life (such as stress, depression, nutrient deficiencies) more hair follicles became “resting” or dormant. Hair loss after gastric sleeve is usually noticed more in thinner hair as it sheds.
Hair loss occurs as the body begins adjusting although vitamins and supplements are a great way to prevent hair loss.2
How to Avoid Excess Skin After Gastric Sleeve
Losing weight at a rapid pace can impact the amount of loose, sagging skin.
The biggest hurdle patients face long-term is sagging, excess skin. Many patients choose to remove this excess skin with a plastic surgery procedure called skin removal. Skin elasticity begins to decrease the more weight gain patients face. It is important to avoid and reduce excess skin as you begin to lose weight.
Ways to Avoid Loose Skin and Tighten the Excess Skin;
- Salt scrubs
- Weight training
- Biceps curl
- Increase muscle mass through exercise and working out
- Improve blood flow
- Skin removal
- Click here for a full guide – how to lose excess skin
Gastric Sleeve Nutritional Deficiencies
Aside from that, there are nutrient deficiencies that must be attended to through vitamins and supplements. These include Iron + Vitamin C, Calcium Citrate, and Multivitamins. Because gastric sleeve surgery is a newer bariatric procedure, long-term evidence-based data is not complete.
Gastric Sleeve Nutritional Deficiencies Include3
- Iron deficiency
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Folic Acid deficiency
- Calcium deficiency
- Zinc deficiency
- Micronutrient deficiencies
These nutritional deficiencies can cause hair loss, dumping syndrome, overall health, tiredness or feeling weak, and weight loss stalls or plateaus.
Weight Gain After Surgery
Weight gain after gastric sleeve surgery can happen at one time or another. These can start as stalls or plateaus, and grow into weight regaining if patients do nothing about it. After surgery, losing weight comes naturally and quickly. It feels like no matter how bad or good your eating habits are – patients still lose weight.
Causes of Weight Gain Include
- Bad nutrition habits
- Not taking vitamins
- Not eating proper amounts of fat or protein
- Side effects of medication
One of the most common misconceptions after surgery is stretching the sleeve stomach from eating too much. Everyone asks, “Will my stomach stretch after surgery?”
Most patients think if they eat too much, the stomach will stretch back to its original size.
Fortunately, that is not true. Yes, the stomach is an elastic organ meaning it can vary in size and stretch slightly. The amount it can stretch is very insignificant.
To Prevent Stomach Stretching After Gastric Sleeve
- Do not continuously snack throughout the day
- Keep track of portion size
- Do not eat impulsively
- Control stress, depression, and lack of sleep to the best of your ability
- Do not use eating as an outlet for negative emotions
- Do not overuse sugar-filled or artificially sweetened drinks
- Ask your doctor or primary physician about changes in medications if they increase hunger
The surgery has a nice benefit of reducing the hunger-inducing hormone ghrelin. But ultimately, it’s the restrictive nature of a smaller stomach that leads to weight loss.
If you have any questions or are interested in undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, please contact us or start by seeing if you pre-qualify!
- Life After Gastric Sleeve Surgery – Everything You Need to Know
- Click here for Gastric Sleeve Before and After Photos: Incredible Transformations