Why the Gastric Sleeve?

Ever since the gastric sleeve took its place in the weight loss surgery stage, I have felt that it is one of the most effective and almost universally appropriate procedures available to those needing bariatric surgery. The reason lies in its simplicity and effectiveness. The procedure is major surgery, to be sure, but it eliminates the need for an implant in the abdomen such as in gastric banding, and reduces the risk of nutritional deficiencies and other complications associated with gastric bypass. Further, this procedure is appropriate for the extremely obese and for those with low BMIs. Over and over again the gastric sleeve has proven itself to be an effective long-term tool for those suffering from obesity. That’s not to say that the gastric sleeve doesn’t have any complications or risks, because risks such as leaks can be devastating.

As weight loss surgeons, our drive is to improve patient’s lives. Yes, removing an organ, or fixing a hernia, makes patients feel better, and makes us feel good too. However, in my 27 years of practice, have I yet to come across such gratification as seeing a patient 6 months after a gastric sleeve. It doesn’t just improve lives; it radically changes their life for the better. I become so happy when I no longer recognize my patients due to the weight loss. But it’s not just the appearance: Self-esteem improves remarkably, health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure resolve, their energy level improves, they can sleep without waking up tired, people look at them and treat them differently…the list goes on and on. It’s almost universally that patients say they wish they had it done earlier.

I believe that obesity can be equated to a slow growing cancer, that may take decades to finally manifest itself. But along the way, it consumes a patient’s life with all the health and emotional issues it may induce. The good thing is that because it’s a slow process it gives us time to cure it. The sad part is that people still think that bariatric surgery is some type of taboo or that it indicates a personality flaw or failure (by the way society feels the same way about someone who is obese—what a catch-22!!!). In the US, there are estimates that approximately 20 million patients may benefit from bariatric surgery, yet only about 400,000 procedures are performed annually. Dejectedly, that figure represents about 2% of patients.

I have made the gastric sleeve and other vertically oriented bariatric procedures a central part of my practice. Of course, other weight loss surgery procedures may be suitable to your particular situation as well and I encourage you to explore those options on our site and the hundreds of resources available to you throughout the Internet.