What is a gastric sleeve?

Weight loss surgery – or bariatric surgery, as it’s also known – takes a few different forms. Gastric sleeve surgery is a popular operation for people who have a BMI of over 30 who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight and keep it off through dieting and exercise.

It’s performed under general anaesthetic and is a minimally invasive procedure which involves making small incisions in the tummy before a flexible viewing tube is inserted to allow the surgeon to see inside to carry out the treatment.  

Here, we’ve answered 3 of the questions that our patients commonly ask our surgeons when they’re considering gastric sleeve surgery. 


How does gastric sleeve surgery work? 

Also known as a sleeve gastrectomy, gastric sleeve surgery works by removing a large portion – about 90% – of the stomach, to leave a thin ‘sleeve’. Although the stomach continues to function as it normally would, because of its reduced size it can only hold a small portion of food, restricting how much you’re able to eat and making you feel fuller after eating less.  

You should be less hungry between meals, too, as this type of surgery removes the area of your stomach which produces the hunger hormone, ghrelin, reducing its levels and your appetite.  

Gastric sleeve surgery can lead to dramatic weight loss over a relatively short period of time, as you eat fewer calories but still feel satisfied.  

Bear in mind, though, that after surgery less stomach acid is produced, leading to the absorption of some vitamins and minerals being affected. Because of this, you’ll need to take supplements life-long.  


Do’s and don’ts after gastric sleeve surgery 

A sleeve gastrectomy is a major operation, so looking after yourself following your procedure is really important. Most people recover quickly and are ready to restart some normal activities after a few days, but make sure that you don’t overdo things. 

To get the most out of your gastric sleeve recovery, we’ve pulled together some top hints and tips: 

  • Look after, and check, your wounds. Things to look out for are signs of infection including pain, redness, pus or swelling – if you have any of these, you should get in touch with us for a wound check. 
  • Exercise? Take it slowly. Go gently for the first two weeks, because this will help to avoid nausea, pain and discomfort following your surgery. You should still move around at regular intervals, though, as this will reduce the chances of developing post operative complications. You can then gradually start to build up your exercise until you’re able to do 30 minutes each day.  
  • Don’t do too much too soon. Avoid heavy lifting, and only start to drive again when you feel comfortable with a seatbelt on and you can do an emergency stop. 
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can delay healing and make recovery harder because it affects your immune system, decreases the body’s ability to deliver the nutrients required for healing, and increases the risk of wound infection. 
  • Be aware of your emotions. Although everyone responds to surgery in different ways, it’s normal to feel tearful or irritable in your early recovery phase. Once you’re able to eat more solid foods and start to return to your normal routine, this will usually improve. 

How much weight could I lose? 

Once you’ve had gastric sleeve surgery, you’ll start to lose weight right away as you follow your post-operative diet. 

Most weight is lost in the first 6 months after the procedure. In total, patients who have gastric sleeve surgery lose on average 55 – 60% of their excess weight, according to a 2014 National Bariatric Surgery Registry report. (Excess weight is the difference between your current weight and your ideal weight.) 


When you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery, there’s a lot to take in and understand so that you make the decision that’s the right one for you. You can find out more about this treatment and ask all the questions you have by speaking to one of our weight management specialists. 

Book A Free Consultation

Request A Brochure