Gastric Bypass vs. Gastric Sleeve: Which is Right for Me?

Arriving at the decision to undergo any kind of bariatric surgery is a huge step in your weight loss journey. However, there are a few options when it comes to the type of bariatric procedure, and it’s important to understand the differences between them because some surgeries work best for certain patients. If you are trying to understand the difference between two of the most common types of bariatric surgery, gastric sleeve and gastric bypass, here is a breakdown of each.

Gastric Bypass vs. Gastric Sleeve Procedures

To start, it’s important to understand the differences between gastric sleeve and gastric bypass procedures. In gastric sleeve surgery, changes are made to the size and shape of the patient’s stomach to limit the amount of food that can be eaten at one time. 

About 85% of the left side of the stomach is removed, leaving only a thin tube-like sleeve of stomach about the diameter of the patient’s index finger. Removing most of the stomach limits the amount of food you can eat and helps you feel full quicker. The portion of the stomach that is removed also normally produces a hunger hormone known as ghrelin. Removing this portion of the stomach decreases this appetite-stimulating hormone and as a result generally decreases appetite.

Gastric bypass surgery has two different components. This first is the restrictive element, which involves stapling off a one-inch section of the stomach in order to restrict the amount of food that can be consumed at any one time. 

The malabsorptive element of the gastric bypass involves the “bypass” portion of the procedure. After bypassing part of the stomach, approximately 1/3 of the patient’s small intestine will be bypassed. This allows for fewer calories to be absorbed and, therefore, a higher potential for you to lose weight.

Is the Gastric Bypass or Gastric Sleeve Right for Me?

It’s important to understand that different types of bariatric surgery are best for different patients. There are many different factors to take into consideration when deciding which surgery will work best for you. While bariatric surgeries do produce differing amounts of weight loss, your decision should be based on more than just the amount of weight you would like to lose. 

If you meet the following criteria, gastric bypass surgery may be a better fit for you than gastric sleeve surgery:

  • Suffering from type II diabetes and looking for a long-term solution (gastric sleeve surgery may be less effective at curing type II diabetes)
  • Dealing with severe acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD
  • Wanting to lose 65-90% of your unhealthy bodyweight

However, if you suffer from any of the following, another weight loss surgery may be a better option for you:

  • Severe baseline vitamin and mineral deficiencies (including anemia)
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Any other condition that requires anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids or NSAIDs

Gastric sleeve surgery is usually best for patients who:

  • Want to lose 60-80% of their unhealthy body weight
  • Don’t suffer from severe heartburn or reflux at baseline
  • Have current vitamin/mineral deficiencies (including anemia) or concerns about long-term health implications of intestinal bypass but still desire surgical weight loss
  • Struggle with medical conditions that keep an intestinal bypass from being an option, such as those that require prednisone or anti-inflammatory medications, have had many previous abdominal operations, or suffer from Crohn’s disease

You can always contact our friendly office staff with any questions about which surgery is best for you, and to see if you are eligible for bariatric surgery. It’s also important to note that while bariatric surgery can help level the playing field and give you an equal opportunity to lose a substantial amount of unhealthy body weight, it’s not a magical cure. Patients must commit to a complete lifestyle change including a strict diet and exercise plan. 

Which Surgery Will Help Me Lose the Most Weight?

Following gastric bypass or gastric sleeve, many patients may lose 100-200 pounds of excess body weight. Imagine how much better you will feel and how much more energy you will have! Again, it’s very important to understand that the amount of weight you can potentially lose depends on your commitment to a new, healthy lifestyle. 

At the BMCC, we are committed to each and every one of our patients and want to be with you every step of your weight loss journey. That is why we offer lifelong support to our patients post-surgery to help you maximize your weight loss results.

Which Weight Loss Surgery is Safest?

You and your safety is our top priority at the BMCC. All of our procedures are performed by our double-board certified bariatric surgeon Dr. Long, who has participated as a national site reviewer and collaborator for the national obesity algorithm. His patients have some of the lowest complication rates regionally and nationally. Harnessing a meticulous technical approach, preventive education, and culture of safety, Dr. Long’s patients have complication rates comparable to safe, minor day procedures such as a gallbladder removal.  Dr. Long uses minimally invasive approaches  with smaller surgical incisions that may be difficult to see after you have healed. This also means there is generally less downtime and recovery after surgery for most patients.

Talk to Our Team Today!

If you’re ready to take the next step towards a more energetic and healthier lifestyle, contact our office today. We can help answer any questions you may still have about gastric bypass vs. gastric sleeve surgery, and we are happy to talk through any of the other surgery options you may have. It’s time to take control of your health and live the life you deserve.

Dr. Joshua Long headshot

This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS. Dr. Long is a double-board-certified bariatric surgeon and bariatric medical director for Parker Adventist Hospital.
Full Bio: Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS
Page Updated: July 23rd, 2021

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*Please note that individual results can vary and are not guaranteed.