Illustration showing the size of a stomach before and after gastric sleeve surgery

After months or years of trying to lose weight, the risks associated with obesity can start to take a toll on your body. For many people, bariatric surgery is the best and safest option to get the weight off and keep it off.

Over the years, gastric sleeve surgery, a form of bariatric surgery and also known as sleeve gastrectomy, has become a popular choice among people considering weight loss surgery. Here are a few things you need to know before undergoing gastric sleeve surgery and to help you find out if you might be a good candidate.

What is gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery is a laparoscopic procedure that drastically decreases the size and changes the structure of your stomach in order to encourage weight loss. To qualify for this procedure, your body mass index (BMI) must be greater than or equal to 40 or between 30 and 40 with other weight-related medical problems.

During this procedure, your surgeon will create a small stomach “sleeve” by permanently removing 80-90% of your stomach, including the area containing the hunger hormone ghrelin, essentially causing your stomach to go from the shape of a football to the shape of a banana. The decrease in stomach size and removal of the hunger hormone, will cause you to feel less hungry and fill up more quickly making it difficult to overeat and absorb excessive amounts of calories.

What happens during a gastric sleeve procedure?

Before surgery, you will be given a general anaesthetic to prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure. Once you are asleep, your surgeon will create five small surgical openings in your abdomen and use a laparoscope (a small tube-like instrument with a camera on the end) to see inside your abdomen to perform the surgery.

Over the next 30-45 minutes, your surgeon will use small surgical instruments to divide and remove around two-thirds of your stomach. After, your stomach will resemble a long tube, joined together with staples.

What does a gastric sleeve diet look like?

After gastric sleeve surgery, you will be given a special diet plan to help ease you into eating with a smaller stomach. This plan starts with clear liquids only and gradually works up to incorporating solid foods.

You should expect to get most of your nutrition in the first few weeks after surgery from high protein drinks. Once you have had more time to heal and adjust, you can begin incorporating pureed foods and eventually soft and regular foods.

Keep in mind that you will not be able to eat as much, so you will need to consciously choose foods that will help you maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

What are the benefits of gastric sleeve compared to other weight loss surgeries?

Compared to other bariatric surgeries like gastric bypass and LAP-BAND, gastric sleeve surgery is a simpler procedure that typically takes less than an hour to complete. The recovery process often goes well for many patients. Because a large portion of the stomach is simply removed and then stapled together, there is no need to re-route your intestines like with gastric bypass or insert a foreign body like with LAP-BAND surgery. It is also typically a very affordable option when it comes to weight loss surgery.

What are some of the issues with gastric sleeve?

With any weight loss surgery, there are risks and issues to consider. Because a large portion of the stomach is removed during gastric sleeve surgery, the procedure is not reversible. It is also not recommended for people with severe acid reflux disease, as it tends to be acid inducing. There is also a possibility that the small stomach tube will stretch over time which can lead to late weight gain.

The key takeaway

Gastric Sleeve Surgery is a good weight loss option for people suffering from obesity and other weight-related health conditions. It is a simple, minimally invasive procedure that when paired with proper diet and exercise, can help you lose 50-70% of excess weight over the first 1-2 years after surgery. With our competitive pricing options and the help of our experienced surgeon and staff, you’ll be able to lose weight and start feeling great.


Birmingham Minimally Invasive Surgery is a caring group of professionals who specialize in all types of bariatric surgery. Our surgeon Dr. Jay Long has highly specialized training in bariatric surgery, having completed a fellowship in minimally invasive and bariatric surgery at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, where he focused on taking care of patients that are morbidly obese. And we are so proud of our pricing that we publish the costs right on the front page of our website! Insurance won’t pay? We have a variety of financing options we can offer you so that you are able to get the healthy body you’ve wanted for years. Visit us today at or give us a call to set up a consultation at 205-833-6907.