If you’re one of the 70 million Americans suffering from obesity, you might be considering gastric sleeve surgery as a way to accomplish your goal of living a healthier life after trying diets, exercise, and every other way of cutting weight. It should be noted that several forms of weight loss surgery (also known as bariatric surgery) exist, each with its own set of benefits and downsides related to the procedure, recovery, and cost.
In this article, we delve into the details of gastric sleeve surgery, how fast and how much weight you can expect to lose, and what this bariatric surgery costs. After reading this piece, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether or not a gastric sleeve is the right weight loss surgery for you.
What Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
Gastric sleeve surgery, or sleeve gastrectomy surgery, is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery in the U.S. and across the world. It targets your body’s ‘excess weight’ (ideal weight minus current weight) by limiting the amount of food you can eat. It’s generally performed laparoscopically, and is designed for people with body mass indexes (BMI) of 35 or higher. It removes 75-85 percent of the stomach. The remaining quarter of the stomach takes the form of a tube or sleeve.
The surgery is effective on more than one level. Removing up to 85 percent of the stomach decreases levels of a hormone called ghrelin. Dubbed ‘the hunger hormone’ ghrelin is found in the stomach and has the primary functions of stimulating appetite, encouraging food intake and promoting fat storage. Patients report feeling less hungry in general and fuller after eating smaller portions after gastric sleeve surgery. Less ghrelin is also good news for sufferers of type II diabetes as it plays a role in blood sugar metabolism (though it should be noted that this kind of surgery is less effective than the gastric bypass or duodenal switch at resolving type II diabetes). A gastric sleeve also reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and other health problems.
After recovering, the majority of gastric sleeve patients can enjoy a wide array of foods, while eating smaller portions than they used to. Unlike some other bariatric surgeries, the gastric sleeve doesn’t require a foreign object being put into your body or rearranging intestinal organs. A gastric sleeve cannot be reversed.
How Much Weight Will I Lose Per Month?
The majority of gastric sleeve patients drop an average of 60-70% of their excess weight in a year. In two years, you may lose up to three-quarters of your excess weight. Some gastric sleeve patients saw resolution of comorbidities (such as the risk of heart attack, diabetes and other weight-related ailments) in 1-2 years. A study done in Switzerland revealed that participants kept off nearly 60% of their excess weight five years after surgery.
While no two cases are the same and several factors contribute to the success of your gastric sleeve surgery, on average, you will probably lose 8 to 12 pounds per month. Here is a timeline of what the average weight loss looks like after surgery at the one-month, three-month, six-month, one-year and 18-month milestones.
In the first 30 days, the changes will be intense. Not only is your body responding to its new reality, but your diet of mostly liquids and pureed foods will also facilitate rapid changes. The average drop in weight is around five pounds per week. Men tend to lose weight more quickly than women. In the second month, some people lose 20% of their excess weight.
By this point, your body will be healed enough that you should be engaging in regular activities, and you could see up to a 35% reduction in total excess weight. So long as you follow the diet plans your bariatric clinic gives you, and exercise, your body will continue to respond positively to the surgery.
Half a year after surgery, your body will likely continue to lose weight but not at the brisk pace you saw before (about 2 pounds per week). You will likely have lost around 50-55% of your excess weight at this stage. With continued dietary, exercise and lifestyle discipline, you should continue to see noticeable results in weight, energy and mood.
A year from surgery, your target weight should be well in sight. By this stage, most people have lost an average of 65% of their excess weight. Patients also see improvements with their comorbidities and other weight-related complications such as diabetes, blood pressure and risk of stroke.
18 Months and Beyond
After a year and a half, some patients lost as much as 80% or more of their excess weight. In one study, after two years, over half of gastric sleeve patients reported sustained weight loss while about six percent reported complications.
It should be noted that because people are different, results can be different as well. While genetics cannot be changed, the biggest difference in results for most patients is the quality of their preoperative education, their commitment to behavioral transformation, and their post-operative diligence to continue what they have learned. In one study, weight loss at one month and at three months was highly predictive for total weight loss. In another study, patients who stopped losing weight earlier (around 6 months) were more likely to regain some portion of their weight. All of this demonstrates how important it is to use every tool available in conjunction with your sleeve to maximize and maintain your weight loss.
How Much Does Gastric Sleeve Surgery Cost?
Bariatric surgery costs vary depending on the procedure. In the U.S., costs range from $9,000 to $27,000. Gastric sleeve surgery averages about $16,800 nationally.
At the Bariatric and Metabolic Center of Colorado in partnership with our non-profit center of excellence (Parker Adventist Hospital), a sleeve gastrectomy is much more affordable. Here your life-saving weight loss surgery costs $11,800. This cost is inclusive of almost everything (prep care and robust education, anesthesia, surgical fees, hospitalization, education and three months of aftercare and counseling).
Does the Weight Stay Off After Surgery?
Sleeve gastrectomy surgery is an effective way to treat obesity, reduce weight-related ailments and improve your overall quality of life. It is not a miracle cure that prevents weight gain or allows for a free-for-all diet with no restrictions.
Regaining weight after gastric sleeve surgery is likely if you return to your old dietary and exercise habits. Research shows that long-term weight loss after surgery is directly tied to food choices and eating habits. Behaviors like binge eating, eating when full, and consuming fast food or liquid calories are some key contributors to regaining weight after surgery.
However, if you follow the instructions your bariatric clinic provides, exercise, and eat the right foods, you absolutely can lose your excess weight and keep it off.
The Bariatric & Metabolic Center of Colorado Offers Weight Loss Surgery In Denver
Dr. Joshua Long is a nationally recognized and double-board certified bariatric surgeon serving Denver, Colorado and the surrounding area. He has performed more than a thousand bariatric surgeries in his career. He has not only earned respect among his peers in the bariatric surgery community, but he is also well-regarded for his compassionate and attentive bedside manner.
If you are considering a sleeve gastrectomy or any bariatric surgery as an option to treat obesity, Dr. Long and his highly-skilled staff welcome you to contact the Bariatric & Metabolic Center of Colorado today.