How Does the Gastric Sleeve Work to Help People Lose Weight?

Understanding how weight-loss surgery works

How do people lose weight from gastric sleeve surgery?

Understanding how weight-loss surgery works

by Mark Takata, MD

The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy helps patients lose weight by removing approximately 80 percent of the stomach using minimally invasive surgical techniques. The remaining stomach is formed into a tube, like a sleeve.

Although the stomach is reshaped, no other organs are altered. This procedure is a good option for people with clinically severe obesity (body mass index 35 and above), who have been unable to bring down their weight by other means.

Gastric sleeve surgery is a very powerful weight loss tool, producing impressive results. There are two mechanisms at work. The first is oral restriction. With a significantly smaller stomach, there is a much smaller reservoir to receive food. As a result, patients can only eat and drink small amounts at a time.

The second mechanism is a physiologically diminished appetite. Removing most of the stomach produces chemical changes in the body that decrease appetite. Specific hormones, such a grehlin and leptin, control appetite and energy balance and have a profound link to obesity.

By removing the portion of the stomach that produces these hormones, the laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy alters the hormonal balance and dramatically diminishes appetite. These two mechanisms—restricting the volume of food one can eat and decreasing appetite—produce powerful, life-saving and sustained weight loss.

This Scripps Health and Wellness tip was provided by Mark Takata, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Scripps Clinic in San Diego.