Gastric Sleeve Surgery


Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the newer treatment options for medical weight loss, and here at Beltline Health, we perform this procedure using minimally-invasive, robot-assisted technologies that are designed to help you feel better, faster.

To help you understand how this procedure works, we’ve prepared this summary of the most common questions our patients have about gastric sleeve surgery.

What is a Gastric Sleeve Procedure?

Gastric sleeve surgery, also called sleeve gastrectomy or vertical gastric sleeve, is a permanent, non-reversible procedure used to treat chronic obesity among patients who have a body mass index over 35.

During the operation, your surgeon seals off approximately 80 to 85 percent of your existing stomach with surgical staples and/or stitches placed with specialized surgical instruments and cameras inserted through tiny incisions in your abdomen. A long, narrow stomach sleeve is created, without the need to disrupt your digestive anatomy.

How Does Gastric Sleeve Work to Promote Weight Loss?

A sleeve gastrectomy is classified as a restrictive bariatric procedure – the operation restricts the amount of food your stomach can hold, helping you to consume fewer calories. When you take in fewer calories, you encourage your body to burn off excess fat as fuel.

Most patients achieve a loss of up to 70 percent of excess body weight within 2 years of having gastric sleeve surgery, with the most dramatic weight loss occurring in the first year following the procedure.*

A sleeve gastrectomy can also help patients feel less hungry, because the secretion of hunger-causing hormones is dramatically reduced when a large portion of the stomach is removed.

Who Qualifies for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

As with all types of weight loss surgery, patients who are interested in gastric sleeve surgery need to meet specific preoperative criteria.

In general, a sleeve gastrectomy may be an option for patients who:

  • Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or over 35 with one or more comorbidities (serious medical conditions caused by obesity, such as sleep apnea, heart disease, or Type 2 diabetes)
  • Have been unable to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight through diet and exercise
  • Are committed to following a strict, lifelong diet and exercise program
  • Are healthy enough to undergo surgery using a general anesthesia
  • Understand the potential risks and complications of any type of surgical procedure
  • Have a realistic expectation of the likely outcomes from gastric sleeve surgery

How Safe is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery has been used to treat obesity both here in the United States and throughout Canada, Mexico, and Europe since the procedure was first developed in 1988. As with all surgical procedures, there are risks involved with the use of general anesthesia. Complication rates from sleeve gastrectomy surgery are relatively low when compared to other types of weight loss surgery. In most cases, complications can be prevented by choosing a skilled bariatric surgeon and following post-operative care instructions carefully.

Minimally-Invasive Options for Gastric Sleeve Surgery

While gastric sleeve surgeries can be performed in a traditional open manner, most patients experience better results from laparoscopic procedures. A surgical technique that uses several small incisions to access the stomach rather than one large one, laparoscopic surgery allows for the same basic outcome with fewer risks and expedited healing times. In these kinds of procedures, small holes known as keyholes are strategically placed to allow access with a laparoscope or a tube outfitted with a camera and surgical tools.

What To Expect After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Following a sleeve gastrectomy, you will need to follow a special post-surgical diet that begins with a clear liquid phase, followed by full liquids then pureed foods. This special diet is designed to promote post-operative healing and help minimize the risk of complications.

Once your new stomach is fully healed, you will begin to consume regular foods again, however, the portion sizes will be dramatically smaller than you were eating before your gastric sleeve surgery.

Our nutritional experts here at Beltline will provide you with all the ongoing support you need to understand your new diet, address any concerns you might have, and help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Will Insurance Cover Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

Many insurance providers offer coverage for gastric sleeve surgery.

As with all weight loss procedures, there are strict requirements in order to qualify for insurance coverage for a sleeve gastrectomy. Your insurance provider may require you to undergo psychological assessments, medical testing, and proof of previous, failed attempts to achieve and maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI) through lifestyle modification (diet and exercise).

Here at Beltline, many of our patients choose to self-pay for weight loss procedures like gastric sleeve surgery, in order to expedite their weight loss journey.