Gastric Sleeve

Quick Summary
Gastric Sleeve
Procedure Length
1-3 hours
General anesthesia
Inpatient (2-3 days in hospital)
No, but can be revised
Type of Specialist
Bariatric Surgeon
Recovery Time
2-3 weeks for the incisions to heal.  After one month, most patients are well on the way to being fully recovered
Patients lose at least 50% of their excess body weight within 1.5 to 2 years following the surgery. Some may even lose up to 60% to 70%
The average cost of gastric sleeve is between $10,000 to $25,000.

What is gastric sleeve?

Gastric sleeve, also known as a sleeve gastrectomy, is a type of bariatric (weight-loss) procedure.  It involves removing a large portion of the stomach, leaving behind a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach that resembles a banana or a sleeve. The procedure is performed laparoscopically, using small incisions and a camera-guided instrument called a laparoscope.

Cost of gastric sleeve surgery

The average cost of a sleeve gastrectomy is between $10,000 to $25,000. There are several factors can affect the cost of gastric sleeve surgery. These factors include:

  1. Geographical Location: The cost of healthcare services can vary depending on the country, state, or city where the surgery is performed.
  2. Hospital or Surgical Facility: The choice of hospital or surgical facility can influence the cost. Different facilities have varying levels of accommodations, technology and amenities which can affect the overall price.
  3. Bariatric Surgeon’s Experience: Highly experienced and reputable bariatric surgeons with a proven track record may charge higher fees for their services.
  4. Pre-operative Evaluations and Tests: Prior to the surgery, patients may need to undergo several evaluations and tests such as lab work, imaging studies, and consultations with specialists. These additional procedures can increase the overall cost.
  5. Anesthesia Fees: The administration of anesthesia during surgery comes with its own costs, which can vary depending on the type of anesthesia used and the duration of the procedure.
  6. Hospital Stay and Post-operative Care: The length of hospital stay and the level of post-operative care required can affect the overall cost. Longer hospital stays or additional care may lead to higher expenses.
  7. Follow-up Visits and Support: After the surgery, patients often require follow-up visits, counseling, and support services. These additional consultations or programs can contribute to the overall cost.
  8. Insurance Coverage: The coverage provided by health insurance plans can vary significantly. Some insurance plans may cover a portion or all of the cost of gastric sleeve surgery, while others may offer limited coverage or none at all. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to understand what is covered and what costs you may be responsible for.

It’s important to consult with qualified healthcare and insurance providers who can help you better understand the factors that can impact the cost of gastric sleeve surgery in your specific case.

Are you a candidate?

Here are some general factors that make a good candidate for gastric sleeve:

  1. Body Mass Index (BMI): Typically, individuals with a BMI of 40 or higher (severe obesity) or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, or joint problems are considered good candidates. However, the specific BMI requirements may vary depending on the healthcare provider or bariatric center.
  2. Previous Weight Loss Efforts: Candidates have typically attempted other weight loss methods such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes without achieving significant and sustained weight loss.
  3. Overall Health: Good candidatesshould generally be in good overall health and able to tolerate a major surgical procedure. The individual should be free from any conditions that would increase the risks associated with surgery.
  4. Commitment to Lifestyle Changes: Gastric sleeve surgery is not a standalone solution. Candidates should be committed to making long-term changes to their diet and lifestyle, including adopting healthy eating habits, regular physical activity, and ongoing medical follow-up.
  5. Psychological Evaluation: A psychological evaluation may be conducted to assess the individual’s mental and emotional readiness for the surgery and ability to comply with post-operative recommendations.
  6. Understanding of Risks and Benefits: Candidates should have a clear understanding of the potential risks, benefits, and lifestyle changes associated with gastric sleeve surgery. It’s important to have realistic expectations and be prepared for the challenges and adjustments that come with the procedure.

You may not be a good candidate if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding disorder
  • Severe psychiatric illness (e.g. depression, psychosis, etc.)
  • Negative reactions to general anesthesia
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Barrett’s esophagus
  • Large hiatal hernia

It’s important to consult with a qualified bariatric surgeon to determine if gastric sleeve surgery is a suitable option for you.

How does it work?

Gastric Sleeve ProcedureGastric sleeve surgery involves the removal of around 80% of the stomach. This leaves a tube-shaped stomach that is roughly the size and shape of a banana.  Rapid weight loss will occur shortly after the surgery, because the stomach can only hold small amounts of food at a time and absorb very little.

Additionally, the sleeve gastrectomy removes the part of the stomach responsible for producing ghrelin, the hunger stimulating hormone. As a result, appetite is reduced for years after surgery.

Patients report losing up to 50% of their excess weight within 3 years of the procedure.

Treatment details

Gastric sleeve is typically performed laparoscopically, which involves making small incisions in the abdomen and using specialized instruments to perform the procedure. Here is a general overview of how the procedure is performed:

  1. Anesthesia: The patient is given general anesthesia to ensure they are asleep and pain-free throughout the surgery.
  2. Incisions: Several small incisions, typically ranging from 5 to 12 millimeters in size, are made in the abdomen.
  3. Insertion of Laparoscope: A laparoscope, which is a long, thin tube with a camera and light attached to it, is inserted through one of the incisions. This allows the surgeon to visualize the surgical site on a monitor.
  4. Stomach Division: Using surgical instruments, the surgeon carefully divides the stomach vertically, creating a long tube or sleeve shape. The larger portion of the stomach, which produces the hunger hormone ghrelin, is removed.
  5. Stapling and Closure: The remaining stomach is sealed and divided using surgical staples or sutures to create the smaller sleeve-shaped stomach pouch.
  6. Surgical Site Examination: The surgeon inspects the surgical site to ensure there are no leaks or bleeding.
  7. Closure of Incisions: The small incisions in the abdomen are closed using sutures or surgical staples.
  8. Recovery: After the surgery, the patient is moved to the recovery room and closely monitored for any complications or discomfort.

Overall, the procedure takes between 60 to 90 minutes.

Recovery time

Following surgery, most patients stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 days before returning home to heal.

It is common to experience pain and swelling in the abdomen after surgery, and your doctor may prescribe pain medication.

Typically, patients return to work within 2 to 4 weeks after surgery, but strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for 6 to 8 weeks.

There is a strict diet to adhere to after a sleeve gastrectomy, beginning with sugar-free, noncarbonated liquids for the first week (protein shakes, broth, milk, yogurt, and juice).

Fatigue is common during this time, due to the low-calorie nature of the diet. After this, you will transition to pureed foods for 3 weeks, and finally progress to eating solid foods around 4 weeks after surgery.

Since your stomach cannot absorb as much as it used to, it is important to take multivitamins and calcium to supplement your diet. A vitamin B-12 injection will also be required once a month for life.

One benefit of the sleeve gastrectomy compared to other bariatric surgeries is that most patients are able to continue eating the variety of foods they did pre-surgery; these include fibrous vegetables and meats.

How much weight will you lose?

Patients can expect to lose at least 50% of their excess body weight within 1.5 to 2 years following the surgery. Some people may even lose up to 60% to 70%.

It is common to regain some weight 2 to 10 years after bariatric surgery. Weight gain is caused by stomach stretching, which is a result of poor diet choices and overeating.

It is important to maintain diet and lifestyle changes to keep the weight off.

Alternatives to gastric sleeve

There are other surgical alternatives to the sleeve gastrectomy that can provide similar weight loss benefits. These include:

  • Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB): With gastric bypass surgery, a portion of the stomach is stapled off to form a gastric pouch; the small intestine is then attached in a “Y” formation to the pouch to bypass the lower stomach and intestines.
  • Adjustable gastric band: A band is placed around the upper part of the stomach to separate it from the main part of the stomach; the smaller part will fill up with food faster and empty slowly into the rest of the stomach, limiting food intake. An example is the LAP-BAND surgery.

It is important to note that the sleeve gastrectomy is a permanent procedure and cannot be undone. Other options, like the adjustable gastric band and gastric bypass, can be reversed.

Ready to take the next step?

To see if you are a candidate for gastric sleeve surgery, contact a weight loss surgeon near you.