gastric sleeve myths

Gastric sleeve surgery, also called sleeve gastrectomy, is one of the most common procedures we perform at Birmingham Minimally Invasive. Many people have embraced the benefits of this option and found it to be the best fit for them. 

Of course, there is plenty of misinformation out there, and some people have misconceptions about what sleeve surgery is, what the surgery is like, and what it’s like after surgery is complete. 

Because we want you to be as educated as possible about this option and others, we will debunk a few common misconceptions and myths about gastric sleeve surgery in this blog post.

Common myths & misconceptions about gastric sleeve surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery takes a long time, as does recovery.

The important thing to understand here is that we perform gastric sleeve surgery laparoscopically. This avoids the need for large abdominal incisions and results in less pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery. When you compare it to other options, such as gastric bypass, surgery and recovery time are typically shorter.

You will change my anatomy.

With this surgery option, we do not re-route your digestive anatomy. We leave the pyloric portion of your stomach intact to help avoid dumping syndrome (rapid gastric emptying causing cramps, nausea, and diarrhea). Overall, gastric sleeve is a simple procedure that helps avoid the associated risks of an intestinal bypass. It also avoids the use of foreign materials, such as with a gastric banding procedure.

My body won’t be able to absorb nutrients properly after surgery.

There is no malabsorption of nutrients with gastric sleeve. The surgery reduces the size and volume of your stomach to limit food/calorie intake.. The surgery results in a stomach that functions normally, enabling you to eat most foods and for your body to absorb nutrients after the procedure.

I will be able to eat anything after surgery.

This is true to some extent once you are in the much later stages of recovery. However, initially, you will go through the five stages of the gastric sleeve post-op diet, which includes liquids, protein-rich liquids, pureed solid foods, and solid foods. Once you have successfully incorporated solid foods back into your diet, it is important to continue making conscious food choices long-term. You will not be able to eat anything and everything. The amount of food you eat throughout the day will be limited, so what you eat and how you eat is vital to staying on track and healthy.

I will be fully recovered within a few days after gastric sleeve surgery.

There is a difference between returning to everyday activities and full recovery. As time passes after your surgery, you will gradually be able to begin eating more and taking on a more active lifestyle. Within one to two weeks, you should start to feel less tired and get back into your normal routine. However, your stomach will still be healing. On average, it takes two to three weeks for incisions to heal and six to eight weeks for the stomach staple line to heal. After one month, most people can begin a normal exercise routine and are well on the way to being fully recovered.

My Insurance will not cover the surgery.

Most insurance companies cover bariatric surgery, but their individual requirements may vary based on the type of surgery. If gastric sleeve coverage is included in your insurance policy, you will have to meet your provider’s criteria in order to obtain approval. Requirements often vary based on the provider. You can contact your provider to see if gastric sleeve is covered under your plan, and, from there, you can request more information about their coverage criteria and required documentation.

There’s no way I can pay out of pocket.

Gastric sleeve surgery is considered one of the less invasive weight loss procedures, requiring less time spent in surgery and a shorter hospital stay in most cases. This allows us to offer it at a lower price than some other weight-loss surgeries. For those who are not covered by their insurance or choose to pay without using insurance, private pay is a very common option. While prices vary among different surgeons, at Birmingham Minimally Invasive, our gastric sleeve surgery is $8,999, making it an affordable option for many patients.

I won’t be able to have any other weight loss procedures after having the sleeve.

While we do not consider gastric sleeve to be a reversible procedure, in some patients, the stomach tube or “sleeve” may stretch over time leading to late weight regain. If you do experience this, we have the option to perform a second stage operation known as a duodenal switch or Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

We hope this clears up any confusion about gastric sleeve surgery. It is an excellent solution for many people, and if you are interested in weight loss surgery, we look forward to working with you to find out if this option or another is right for you.