Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve

Problems like obesity and weight gain are growing concerns among Americans. Healthline says around 40% of American adults are obese, and 30% are overweight. It’s usual for people to think of a weight loss procedure if they cannot control it by themselves. There are different surgical and non-surgical methods available to treat obesity and weight problems, and gastric sleeve is among them. Gastric sleeve surgery, aka Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG), is a bariatric procedure restricting the amount of food your stomach can hold. Doctors usually recommend it to people who have tried other weight loss methods before. But like every other weight-loss procedure, there are pros and cons of Gastric Sleeve surgery.

What are the Pros of Gastric Sleeve?

The advantages of gastric sleeve include:

1. Quicker Recovery Time

The recovery time from a gastric sleeve procedure is typically much shorter than other bariatric surgeries such as lap band and gastric bypass. Most patients usually can resume their vigorous activities from 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure. Patients are advised to stay hydrated and keep taking walks during the recovery period.

2. Reduced Hunger and Cravings

The gastric sleeve is a restrictive procedure that limits the amount of food consumed at one time and increases feelings of satiety or fullness more quickly. Additionally, hormones like ghrelin are reduced during this operation. Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone” because it stimulates hunger signals throughout our bodies. By reducing levels of this hormone, patients feel less hungry and experience fewer cravings for unhealthy foods following surgery. This helps them eat smaller meals and make better nutritional choices overall.

3. Significant Weight Loss

Gastric sleeve surgery typically leads to significant weight loss in most patients, up to 60% of their excess body weight within the first year after surgery. This weight-loss procedure is minimally invasive for severely overweight or obese patients. The reduced size of the stomach ultimately leads to less hunger and greater satisfaction after meals. You can lose further weight along the way as you feel fewer cravings for food.

4. Reduced Risk of Complications

Unlike gastric bypass, the gastric sleeve does not require a rearrangement of the digestive system or any rerouting of the intestines. Instead, it simply reduces the size of the stomach. This is what makes for a much easier recovery period with fewer potential complications arising from more invasive procedures.

5. No Intestinal Obstruction

Gastric sleeve significantly reduces the size of the stomach. Since the stomach size is reduced significantly, less food can be ingested at one time. It simultaneously reduces the amount of fat and tissue accumulating in the digestive tract. Furthermore, since gastric sleeve surgery limits physical changes to a single part of the digestive system, there is less chance for blockage or backup.

What are the Cons of Gastric Sleeves?

Some of the contradictory disadvantages of gastric sleeves include:

1. Possible Nutritional Deficiencies

Since the gastric sleeve drastically reduces the amount of food, you can consume at once, getting enough essential vitamins and minerals in your diet is important. Otherwise, this can lead to nutritional deficiencies with long-term health complications. Gastric sleeve patients need to take supplements as recommended by their doctor to ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.

2. Unfavorable Long Term Results

Some patients who undergo gastric sleeve surgery experience weight gain after the first year or so post-surgery. This can often be attributed to needing to follow a healthy diet and exercise program or get enough nutrition from food sources alone.

3. Higher Risk of Gallstones

Gastric sleeve surgery increases the risk of gallstones due to how it alters the digestive process. The procedure reduces the size of the stomach, resulting in reduced production of bile acids and other digestive juices that break down fat. This decreases the amount of bile available to mix with fats, so instead, these accumulate as cholesterol crystals and form gallstones.

4. The procedure is not reversible

Once the procedure is done, it cannot be reversed. That means any lost weight can come back if diet and exercise habits do not change or are not maintained.

5. Not Covered by Insurance

Many insurance plans do not cover the cost of bariatric surgeries, including gastric sleeve. This can be a financial burden for those considering this type of procedure. Given that it's considered an investigational procedure, some insurance companies may consider it elective surgery and not cover the cost.


Gastric sleeve surgery is a viable solution for those looking to lose significant weight in a relatively short time. The procedure is generally considered safe, however, it does have its own set of risks and complications. You must discuss all your options with a specialized surgeon before deciding on any surgical weight-loss procedure. It is also important to follow up with your doctor regularly after the procedure to ensure you get the proper nutrition and monitor any possible health risks or complications.

Pros and Cons of Gastric Sleeve

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the long-term side effects of the gastric sleeve?

The complications can include gastrointestinal obstruction, hernias, Gastroesophageal reflux, hypoglycemia, malnutrition, and vomiting.

Is gastric sleeve worth it long term?

With gastric sleeve, patients may lose up to 65% of their weight. But, it is important to note that this type of weight-loss surgery may be less effective in the long run. Research shows that many patients tend to gain weight back after two years.

Can I have a normal life after gastric sleeve?

Weight-loss surgery is a tool that can assist you in losing weight and leading a healthier and more satisfying life. However, it is not a cure for obesity. One must follow diet, exercise, and lifestyle change guidelines to achieve long-term success.

How many years does gastric sleeve last?

The gastric sleeve is a permanent procedure that cannot be reversed and will last for the remainder of your life.

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