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Published on November 01, 2010

Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program Now Offers the Gastric Sleeve Procedure

The Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program at Crozer-Chester Medical Center recently began offering another minimally invasive bariatric procedure – sleeve gastrectomy, also known as the “gastric sleeve” procedure.

In this procedure, the surgeon removes about 85 percent of the stomach so that it takes the shape of a tube or sleeve. The procedure permanently reduces the size of the stomach to help the patient eat less and feel full faster, resulting in significant weight loss and improved health. Food moves through the digestive system in the normal manner, greatly reducing the risk of complications and allowing for normal food digestion and absorption.

Leon Katz, M.D., medical director of the Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program at Crozer, explains that the procedure is best for patients who have coronary stents, a lifelong regimen requiring aspirin, extensive previous abdominal surgery and those who may need kidney or liver transplants and immuno-suppresing medications.

Until this time, Katz performed two types of surgeries for weight-loss surgery patients: gastric bypass and banding (such as LAP-BAND and Realize Baned) procedures. In gastric bypass, the surgeon creates a small pouch using the upper part of the stomach. The pouch (approximately the size of an egg) limits the amount and rate at which a person may eat or drink. In addition, the intestines are reorganized to separate the digestive enzymes from the food that is eaten, thereby limiting the amount of calories that are absorbed by the body. During a banding procedure, an adjustable band is placed around the upper stomach to create a smaller stomach pouch. The band is fastened around the upper stomach to help limit and control the amount of food a patient can eat.

“Sleeve gastrectomy is a great alternative to consider, but this surgery isn’t for everyone,” Katz says. “It is important to review the various types of surgery available with your physician and decide if gastric bypass, gastric banding or sleeve gastrectomy is right for you.”

The advantage of having the sleeve gastrectomy is that unlike gastric banding surgery, no foreign objects are left in the body during the procedure. Additionally, in the case of a gastric band, there is the possibility the band may slip or become infected. In addition, there is no bypass of the small intestines with the gastric sleeve, so all nutrients are absorbed and there is very little chance that a patient will have absorption issues.

“There are several risks and complications of gastric sleeve surgery. Due to a long staple line, there is a risk of leakage of intestinal fluid,” Katz says.

Katz explains that patients may also experience a greater incidence of heartburn. Weight can be regained over time because the stomach can stretch, so the patient must maintain their new lifestyle. Another consideration is that this procedure is not yet covered by some insurances.

Katz encourages a procedure that is best for the health of each patient. Bariatric surgery can improve a patient’s overall quality of life by increasing mobility, enhancing self-image and raising self-esteem. Bariatric surgery may also improve medical conditions such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and arthritis which are often associated with obesity.

For more information about the Comprehensive Bariatric Surgery Program, call (610) 619-8450 or visit http://bariatricsurgery.crozer.org.

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