Sleeve gastrectomy is a type of bariatric (weight loss) surgery performed by inserting small, specialized instruments into the abdomen and removing about 80% of the stomach. This produces weight loss by reducing the amount of food a person can consume. Doctors believe that the patient’s appetite is further reduced by the smaller stomach releasing fewer hormones that cause hunger. The remaining stomach forms a “sleeve” that is about the size of a banana, which is where the procedure gets its name. The function of the stomach remains the same; only the size of the stomach is reduced. Since the surgery is performed using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) techniques that require only small incisions, it results in less pain, a faster recovery, and a shorter hospital stay than traditional weight loss surgery. Many patients are released from the hospital in just 1-2 days and can return to work as early as two weeks after surgery.
Sleeve gastrectomy is a permanent procedure and can’t be reversed. Weight loss surgery is not a cosmetic procedure, and there is some degree of risk. Complications occur in about 5% of all bariatric surgeries. Patients are required to follow a special diet during recovery and take certain steps to reduce the risk of complications and improve their chances of weight loss.
Obesity is a medical problem that can have a wide range of mental and physical effects. If you or a loved one has struggled with obesity for years and has tried unsuccessfully to combine a healthy diet with exercise to lose weight, UAB Medicine is the place to turn. UAB has been performing weight loss procedures for more than 30 years. It was the first American College of Surgeons Level 1 Bariatric Surgery Center in Alabama, and it is designated a Comprehensive Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP). This history, combined with our standing as a premier academic medical center, puts UAB Medicine at the forefront of weight loss surgery.
Patients who have complications from bariatric surgery done elsewhere are referred here, which gives us a unique perspective on weight loss surgery, its risks, and its limitations. We do not view surgery as a quick fix for weight loss, and it should not be the first consideration when evaluating weight loss methods. We treat and manage obesity using a comprehensive approach that may include surgery, the UAB Weight Loss Medicine Clinic, behavioral therapists, and dietitians. Our weight loss support group meets regularly and is open to all patients, whether they have had bariatric surgery or are considering it.
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