At Healthier Weight we have done gastric sleeves for many years, in fact we did some of the first sleeves in the United Kingdom in Manchester back in the noughties. We now offer the procedure across the country.
Through our experience with gastric sleeve patients, we’ve identified 5 important things that all people considering a sleeve procedure need to take into account before they decide to go ahead. They are not reasons to delay, just important things to know:
1. The sleeve is a very powerful procedure.
Numerous studies have shown it to be a safe and effective weight loss procedure and it is now the most common weight loss procedure offered in the NHS. It will reduce your capacity to eat food and will change the balance of gut hormones and bacteria in your stomach to change and reduce your appetite. Weight loss results in the first year are especially impressive.
2. Sleeve complication rate is comparable to other procedures.
However, sleeve complications tend to be harder to fix. The two complications that are most concerning are leakage from the staple line and stricture which causes the reduced stomach to narrow or close. Although these complications can be serious, they can be treated. The important point for patients to consider is that they can take a long stay in hospital to heal. Only about 1 in 80 patients will experience a leak but those patients who do could spend on average 3-4 weeks in hospital while it heals. So, make sure you are aware of both the likelihood of the complication and, more importantly, the implications.
3. Go with an experienced sleeve surgeon.
Age is not a measure of experience. You need to be sure that your surgeon does a lot of sleeves every month and that they have a local NHS practice where they also do sleeve procedures. Remember that surgeons are only human, if they don’t do a procedure very often they are more likely to have higher complication rates. There is lots of evidence to show that higher volume surgeons get better outcomes. Look for a surgeon who does at least 25 sleeves every year
4. Long-term weight loss success requires permanent changes to diet and eating habits, the sleeve is no different.
Our experience is that patients get good weight loss and weight maintenance for 3-4 years but after this time weight can creep back if you have not made changes to your diet. So, make sure you use the first 2-3 years with your sleeve to make changes that will endure a lifetime.
5. Most studies show that people who have had a gastric sleeve are at increased risk of experiencing acid reflux symptoms.
This is because sleeve patients have smaller, narrower stomachs that are under more pressure than they were before. We call this a high-pressure system. It means that the likelihood of stomach acid being pushed up into the oesophagus is increased. This is usually treated through medication but all patients having a sleeve should be aware of this.
So, there are 5 important lessons. You should never go ahead with a sleeve without having had these points fully explained to you. That’s what any responsible provider will do when they take you through the consent process. Once you are satisfied with these points you can look forward to the great sleeve results that most patients describe.