Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy: Preparation, Procedure, Results, And Risks


Weight loss can be challenging; sometimes, exercise and diet changes might not provide your desired results. In such cases, bariatric procedures might be your answer. Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG), also referred to as a gastric sleeve/ vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is one of the most popular bariatric procedures that has gained popularity because of its overall safety and effectiveness.

This minimally invasive surgery helps reduce your stomach’s size to help kickstart your weight loss and adopt a healthier lifestyle. Reducing your stomach’s size helps minimize the food you eat. The procedure also triggers hormonal changes that boost your weight loss and relieve conditions related to being overweight, like heart disease and high blood pressure. Below is a guide from Valley Surgical RGV in McAllen, Texas, to help you understand the procedure and prepare you mentally before you meet the surgeon.

Are You a Good Candidate?

While laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is safe, you should only get it if you are committed to making permanent changes to achieve a healthier lifestyle. It is ideal if you have a body mass index of over 40, indicating extreme obesity. It is also suitable if your BMI is between 35 and 39.9 and you have weight-related health issues like high blood pressure, heart conditions, type 2 diabetes, or severe sleep apnea. You should also consider LSG If you are old or have surgery risk factors like lung, heart, or liver issues that make it challenging to undergo a lengthy and complicated weight loss surgery.

How To Prepare

After your surgeon has reviewed your health and medical history to determine whether you are a good candidate, they give you instructions on preparing for the procedure for safety and maximum effectiveness. One of the main instructions will be to stop tobacco use around two weeks before the surgery because it could affect the procedure and your recovery. You also get restrictions on the medications to take and diet. Many surgeons recommend a two-week liquid diet to help lose some fat on the liver and abdomen for a more straightforward procedure. You should also not drink or eat anything 12 hours before the procedure. Finally, this is the perfect time to organize help to get you from the hospital and assist you in some activities.

Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy Procedure

The surgeon begins by administering general anesthesia and makes several small incisions in your abdomen, around half an inch each. They insert a long, thin camera via one incision to display the procedure images on a TV screen. They then insert other long and narrow instruments through the rest of the incisions to remove around 80% of the stomach. The surgery happens on the fundus, the stomach section curving outward, which expands to accommodate large food amounts. In addition to minimizing the stomach, that eliminates the part that generates ghrelin, a hormone responsible for making you hungry.

Your new smaller stomach resembles a sleeve, hence the name of the surgery. The surgeon finally closes up the remaining part of the stomach, plus your incisions. The procedure can take about 90 minutes to two hours, but that depends on your goals and the size of the section being removed. Your surgeon might require you to remain in the hospital for two days post-operation for observation and to manage pain/ temporary side effects.


One of the main benefits of getting an LSG is that it is minimally invasive, meaning less pain, recovery time, and side effects compared to other extensive bariatric procedures. It also helps with faster weight loss, with many patients saying they lost between 40 and 50% of their body weight within the first two years. The weight you lose depends on your lifestyle and diet changes.

Post-Op Expectations And Care

After your procedure, your surgeon provides instructions to help recover and minimize side effects. One of the primary ones will be a diet change. Your surgeon will limit your foods to sugar-free, non-carbonated drinks for the first week, followed by pureed meals and fluids only for around three weeks. After around four weeks, you can move to regular foods but must take B complex vitamins, multivitamins, and calcium supplements to help with recovery. You will also require frequent follow-up check-ups to monitor your progress, related health conditions, and side effects.

Since you will be experiencing rapid weight loss for the first few months after the surgery, you might experience body changes like tiredness, dry skin, coldness, body aches, mood swings, and hair thinning/ loss. Weight loss slows down after a few years, and your stomach might stretch over time. Therefore, it is key to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with physical exercises and a nutritious diet, to maintain the results.

Side Effects And Risks

While LSG has fewer side effects than more extensive open weight loss surgeries, you might still experience the following side effects.

  • Bleeding
  • Leaking from the staple line
  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Breathing or lung issues
  • Blood clots
  • Poor nutrient absorption

After recovery, some people might also experience the following long-term complications.

  • Scar tissue that might cause the stomach to narrow, slowing down or blocking food movements
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Gallstones
  • Hernias \low blood sugar

Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy is a practical, non-invasive procedure that has become valuable in many people’s weight loss journey. While you will get rapid weight loss results, it is key to maintain your healthy behaviors and remain active. If you plan to use your insurance, confirm if you must undergo medically supervised weight loss before they cover you for the procedure. Dr. Ernesto Garza and Dr. Luis Reyes from Valley Surgical RGV have over four decades of combined experience. They are dedicated to helping McAllen, Texas, residents achieve a more fulfilling and happier life by being part of their weight-loss journeys. Call or submit an online patient contact form to book an appointment and receive personalized care after your procedure.

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