Gastric Sleeve Surgery - 14 Ways It Will Affect You

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Gastric sleeve surgery (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) removes about 80% of the stomach. As a result, patients:

  • Feel less hungry
  • Feel full sooner after eating
  • Lose up to 75% of their excess weight
  • Improve or cure their obesity-related health problems


  1. How the Gastric Sleeve Works
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Health Benefits
  4. How to Qualify
  5. Insurance
  6. Cost Without Insurance
  7. Preparing for Surgery
  8. Recovery
  9. Diet & Life After
  10. Risks & Downsides
  11. How Does Gastric Sleeve Compare to Other Weight Loss Procedures?
  12. Summary: 7 Steps to Long-Term Weight Loss
  13. Quiz: Test Your Sleeve Knowledge
  14. Patient Community & Expert Advice
  15. Find a Top Surgeon

If you’re brand new to bariatric surgery, we recommend starting on our Bariatric Surgery for Beginners page.

If you’re already familiar with the basics, read the sections below for everything you need to know about the vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure.


How the Gastric Sleeve Works

  • Procedure reduces stomach size by 80%

  • Patient feels full sooner while eating due to smaller stomach

  • Patient feels less hungry because smaller stomach secretes fewer hunger-causing hormones

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

During surgery, your surgeon will make between 1 and 5 small incisions in your abdomen (which minimizes gastric sleeve scars), insert various laparoscopic instruments, and remove about 80% of your stomach. This leaves a banana-shaped “sleeve” that connects the esophagus to the small intestines. [Some surgeons will then reinforce the staple line.]

Your much smaller stomach will cause you feel full sooner and result in long-term weight loss. It is done laparoscopically in one to two hours.

The gastric sleeve procedure is done for patients of all ages, from children to the elderly.

How Gastric Sleeve was “Discovered”

Gastric sleeve started as the first step in the two-step duodenal switch (DS) procedure. DS surgeons saw impressive weight loss and health improvement before performing the second step. This caused them to test gastric sleeve as its own procedure.


Weight Loss

  • Up to 70% of excess weight within 1 year


Enter your height & weight, then click the button:

Enter your height & weight, then click the button:

Weight loss happens fast after gastric sleeve surgery:

  • Month 3: About 33% of excess weight is gone
  • Month 6: About half of excess weight is gone
  • Month 12: Up to 70% of excess weight is gone

Most patients reach a plateau around the one to two year mark. Patients who eat and exercise right are usually able to keep the weight off or lose even more.

But many patients let their dedication slip and regain some weight. This is due to the stomach stretching over time, which is usually caused by overeating.

By 5 years after surgery, the average patient has kept off over half of their excess weight. Successful patients avoid weight regain by:

  • Working closely with their surgeon’s dietitian or nutritionist
  • Using a personal trainer
  • Attending in-person or online support groups at least twice per month
  • Keeping a food journal
  • Having the support of family and friends
  • Maintaining motivation and dedication

For more information, see our page on Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss.

See our Gastric Sleeve Before and After page for pictures of other gastric sleeve patients, including women, men, and celebrities.


Health Benefits

  • Cures or improves diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, and at least 12 other conditions

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve results in complete “resolution” (cure, as long as weight loss is maintained) of many obesity-related health problems, including those listed below.

Note that patients who have a strict follow-up schedule with their surgeon at 3-, 6-, and 12-months post-op see greater improvements in or remission of their diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high cholesterol than patients who skip these visits (1).

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Hypertension
  • Asthma
  • Cholesterol problems
  • and at least 10 other conditions

Patients who aren’t cured usually experience a noticeable improvement.

Gastric sleeve weight loss improves joint health. For every pound of weight lost, there is a 4 pound reduction in pressure on the knee (2). This improves mobility and reduces pain in the knees.

88,000 participants were involved in data collection on cancer research. Results state that patients who undergo weight loss surgery have 33% less risk of developing cancer (3).

Risk rates were even further reduced for obesity-related cancers, including (4):

  • Colon cancer
  • Postmenopausal breast cancer
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer

For the full list of health issues cured or improved by gastric sleeve surgery, see the Health Benefits section of our Gastric Sleeve Results page.


How to Qualify

  • 30+ body mass index (BMI) required

  • If BMI under 40, must have at least one obesity-related health problem

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

You could be a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery if:

  • You have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more, OR
  • Your BMI is between 30 and 39.9 and you have a serious obesity-related health problem Serious obesity-related health problems most commonly include:
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Many others (see Health Benefits section above)

Use the BMI Calculator below to determine your body mass index.

If you do not meet one of the above two BMI requirements, you still might qualify for one other less invasive procedure: the Gastric Balloon. See our Gastric Balloon Patient Guide for more information.



  • Gastric sleeve is covered if your insurance policy includes bariatric surgery

Gastric sleeve insurance coverage varies by country and insurance policy. Your insurance will cover gastric sleeve if your specific policy includes weight loss surgery and you have:

In the U.S., gastric sleeve cost with insurance is about $3,500, depending on your policy. Scroll down this page to learn about the cost of gastric sleeve surgery without insurance.

See our Gastric Sleeve Insurance Guide for everything you need to know about getting insurance to pay for surgery.


Cost Without Insurance

  • Average Patient Pays: $500 to $5,000 with insurance, $12,000 to $22,000 without insurance

  • Loan Payment: $445/month, on average

  • Discounts & Tax Savings: Usually available

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

According to our annual surgeon cost survey, the average total gastric sleeve cost without insurance is $19,000. However, cost range widely by state and surgeon. For example, our survey found that the highest average cost of gastric sleeve, $58,000, can be found in Alaska while the lowest average cost, $12,000, is available in Texas and South Dakota. See the full survey results by state and region in the interactive map below.

Many insurance plans cover gastric sleeve surgery, which will drop your out-of-pocket costs considerably. Patients with insurance that covers gastric sleeve can expect to pay an average of $3,500 for the procedure, although some plans will drop that amount well below $1,000.

If you don’t have insurance that covers the procedure, the good news is that:

  • Insurance may still cover some of your costs, such as pre-op testing, even if weight loss surgery is not an included benefit under your plan
  • Gastric sleeve patients save about $11,000 per year compared to the medical costs they would have incurred had they remained obese. In other words, gastric sleeve pays for itself in under two years.
  • Special discounts are usually offered to “self-pay” patients
  • Out-of-pocket costs may be tax deductible
  • Loans are available to make it more affordable

See our Gastric Sleeve Cost page for more information or click here to contact a top gastric sleeve surgeon to ask for a free cost quote.


Preparing for Surgery

  • Proper preparation reduces your surgery risk, leads to more weight loss, & saves you money

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Your surgeon will work closely with you during the weeks leading up to surgery, including:

  • Health assessment, including questions about your medical history, medications, and surgical history
  • Order certain tests like an ECG, x-ray, and blood tests
  • Establish a pre-surgery diet regimen, including:
    • 2 Weeks Before
      • No sugar
      • Lower carbs
      • Increased protein
      • Increased veggies
      • Plenty of fluids
    • 2 Days Before
      • Clear liquids, broth, one protein shake per day only
      • Talk with your surgeon about whether you should stop taking any medications
    • 12 Hours Before
      • No food or drink, no tobacco

Your other big goal before surgery: lose as much weight as possible. Here’s why:

  • The more weight you lose pre-op, the more weight you will lose after surgery
  • The lower your pre-op weight, the lower your risk of complications
  • You will regain weight if you slip into old habits. The sooner you can establish good diet and exercise habits, the more likely you will be to maintain them after surgery

On surgery day, you’ll perform the typical pre-surgery routine:

  1. Remove all clothes and jewelry
  2. Put on your hospital gown
  3. Meet with your nurse and anesthesiologist
  4. Start your IV
  5. Receive medication for relaxation and sleep

See our Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery page for more information.



  • Hospital Stay: 2 to 3 days

  • Time Off Work: 1 to 3 weeks

  • Full Recovery: 4 to 6 weeks

  • Pain: Manageable – same as any laparoscopic surgery

  • Diet & Activity: Slow transition back to normal

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery recovery includes:

  • Timeline: 4 to 6 weeks to full recovery
    • Hospital Stay: 2 to 3 days
    • Time Off Work: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Pain: Same as experienced after any laparoscopic surgery, managed with medication
  • Diet: Slow transition from clear liquids to solid foods
  • Activity: Slow transition back to regular activity and exercise
  • Challenges: Most side effects like nausea, digestive issues, and body changes go away over time or after adjusting diet/lifestyle habits

Some surgeons allow you to return home on the same day as surgery. This practice isn’t common and the surgery must be completed without complications. If you’d prefer to recover at home, ask your surgeon if this option is available.

See our Gastric Sleeve Recovery page for an in-depth recovery timeline and details about each aspect of recovery.


Diet & Life After

  • Restricted diet with supplementation

  • Regular exercise

  • Less hungry than before surgery

  • Personal relationships may change

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery often takes center stage for new patients. It’s also important to consider what day-to-day life will be like.

Your surgery is only a tool. Long-term success requires diligence and sometimes difficult change in other areas.

The following sections give you an idea about what to expect before and after surgery. Every surgeon is different, and every patient is different. Please talk with your surgeon before acting on any of the following advice.

Food & Drink : Your Diet Transition Schedule

Diet requirements by timeframe are summarized in the chart below.

Timeframe Range
2+ Weeks Before Surgery
2 Weeks Before Surgery
1 Week Before Surgery
2 Days Before Surgery
Midnight Before Surgery to 7 Days After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon)
In Hospital (Varies by Surgeon)
Day 1 to Week 2 After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon)
Day 2 to Week 3 After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon)
Day 3 to Weeks 4+ After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon)
Diet Requirements
Timeframe(Varies Widely By Surgeon) – Diet Requirements
Practice your post-sleeve diet
2+ Weeks Before Surgery – Practice your post-sleeve diet
High protein, low sugar, low carbs
2 Weeks Before Surgery – High protein, low sugar, low carbs
Stop or change some medications
1 Week Before Surgery – Stop or change some medications
Clear liquids only
2 Days Before Surgery – Clear liquids only
Nothing to eat or drink
Midnight Before Surgery – Nothing to eat or drink
Clear liquids only
In Hospital to 7 Days After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon) Clear liquids only
Add thicker drinks & smooth foods (no chunks)
Week 2 After Surgery – Add thicker drinks & smooth foods (no chunks)
Slowly test pureed & soft solid foods
Week 3 After Surgery – Slowly test pureed & soft solid foods
Slowly test solid foods
Day 3 to Weeks 4+ After Surgery (Varies by Surgeon) Slowly test solid foods

For details about each stage, see the following pages:

Vitamins & Supplements : 5 Lifelong Supplements

You will start taking a vitamin regime for the rest of your life after gastric sleeve surgery. This will help you make up for any nutrients you might not be getting in your daily diet. Here is a list of the vitamins your doctor may ask you to take:

Folate (folic acid)
Vitamin D
Vitamins – Purpose
Prevents general nutrition problems & vitamin deficiency
Multivitamin – Entire body
Keeps your bones strong
Calcium – Keeps your bones strong
Reduces risk of anemia
Folate (folic acid) – Reduces risk of anemia
Prevents stroke, heart attack, or other blood-related issues
Iron – Prevents stroke, heart attack, or other blood-related issues
Prevents rickets (weakening of bones, muscles, and teeth)
Vitamin D – Prevents rickets (weakening of bones, muscles, and teeth)

For detailed information about each vitamin, see our Gastric Sleeve Vitamins & Supplements section.

Exercise: 2.5 hours per week, spread out over 2 to 4 days

gastric sleeve surgery

Exercise is almost as important as your diet when it comes to long-term success:

  • Patients who exercise regularly lose more weight over the long-term
  • Physical and mental health benefits are incredible

How much exercise do you need to for noticeable results?

One study of gastric bypass patients found that 2.5 hours per week resulted in 5.7% greater excess weight loss (5).

Working out regularly will also lead to quicker and better health improvement after surgery (6). To help you stay on track, block out time to exercise at the same times on the same days of the week.

Also, spread your 2.5 hours per week out over 3 or 4 days (in other words, 30 to 45 minutes 3 or 4 days per week). This will make it less intimidating to get started each day and will help you build endurance.

Exercise Types

There should be 3 main goals of your exercise routine:

  • Endurance – walking, stationary bike, and especially swimming
  • Flexibility – a good stretching routine. Yoga is best since it incorporates proper breathing and uses your own body weight to build strength
  • Strength – exercise balls, weights, and yoga

Click here to learn more about exercise after weight loss surgery.

Your Brain: Less Hungry, Careful About Food Addiction, New Mentality Will Change Behavior & Relationships

Ghrelin Hormone & Hunger

gastric sleeve surgery

You may feel less hungry following surgery.

When your stomach is empty, it secretes a hormone called ghrelin into your bloodstream. This causes your brain to generate hunger impulses.

After you eat, the amount of secreted ghrelin drops then slowly rises until your next meal. Since your stomach will be so much smaller after gastric sleeve surgery, the amount of ghrelin it secretes may also go down.

Less ghrelin in your system means you will feel less hungry than you did before surgery.

See our page about Obesity & Genetics for more information.

Food Addiction

Our bodies secrete certain hormones (like ghrelin) that tell us when we’re hungry. Junk food may override those hormone signals by overstimulating our reward centers. This is just like the way our bodies and brains react to an addictive drug.

You may have food addiction if your desire for food takes priority over other important parts of your life, such as:

  • Personal health
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Work
  • Your appearance
  • Avoiding obesity related health issues like hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes

If left unchecked, food addiction can lead to obesity. If not addressed before surgery, it can also lead to weight regain.

To find out if you may be suffering from food addiction, take our Food Addiction Quiz.

Relationships After Weight Loss

gastric sleeve surgery

Being thin again, or being thin for the first time, may be a shocking experience. Many patients express amazement at:

  • No more obesity discrimination. For example, strangers tend to be nicer to thin people.
  • Being treated with more respect
  • Getting more romantic interest from others
  • Building deeper relationships by being able to physically keep up with kids and more physically fit friends
  • Getting more compliments from others
  • Increased self-confidence and the effect that has on others
  • Improvements in quality of sexual life (7)

But there may be negatives to being thin as well.

People who you’ve known for a long time will not be used to the way you look and may not know how to act around you. For example:

  • How will overweight friends or family members feel when you’re losing weight but they are not?
  • Will your new healthier diet and smaller portion sizes make meals with others awkward?
  • Could intimacy with your spouse or partner be affected?
  • Could your spouse or partner become jealous now that others are noticing you more?
  • How will your coworkers react? Should you even tell them you are having surgery?
  • Will your friends or family make it difficult for you to stay on track by making bad diet choices?
  • Could your new self-confidence create conflict with people who are used the “old” you?

And what about the new “skinny lens” you see the world through? For example:

  • Would this person be treating me the same way if I hadn’t lost all this weight?
  • How do I handle obesity discrimination now that I’m on the “other side”?

Be prepared for both the good and the challenging “shocks” of dramatic weight loss following surgery.

For real life experiences and advice from other patients, see our Relationships After Weight Loss surgery page.


Risks & Downsides

  • Moderate risk of non-serious complications

  • Side effects may include digestion issues & sagging skin from rapid weight loss

  • Some weight regain possible

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

The relatively simple gastric sleeve procedure results in a very high survival rate (99.7%, or 319 out of 320 patients) (8).

But it does carry a risk of complications, side effects, and other challenges, some of which can be avoided.


The three most common serious gastric sleeve complications are:

  • Staple line leaks – 2.1% of patients on average (between 1.09% and 4.66%, depending on the study) experience staple line leaks (9) (10)
    Occur when sealed or sutured (stitched) openings leak digestive contents into the abdomen. This can cause infection and abscess. Gastrointestinal leaks occur in as many as 5% of patients and can be repaired as long as it is caught early. Symptoms include fever, severe pain and a high heart rate. In order to prevent leaks, your surgeon should check the surgical connections a number of different ways, including (1) blowing air into the connection and observing whether any gets through and (2) using a dye to check for a leak. Leaks not discovered right away are usually treated by resting the stomach (being fed through an IV), but sometimes surgery is required to fix them.
  • Bleeding – 1.2% of patients (11)
    A copious discharge of blood from the blood vessels. One study showed that out of 1,700 laparoscopic bariatric surgery patients only 3 had hemorrhagic complications, none of which needed to be converted to open operations or needed reoperations. However, other studies have shown internal bleeding to be as high as 4% following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. After the surgeon determines the type and severity of internal bleeding, it can be resolved in a number of ways: on its own, replenishing bodily fluids, stopping the use of all anticoagulation drugs and (rarely) by transfusion or reoperation.
  • Stenosis/Strictures – 0.6% of patients (12)
    A narrowing or constriction of the diameter of a bodily passage or orifice. This is most common in procedures that rearrange your digestive system such as gastric bypass surgery (up to 8% of patients) and duodenal switch surgery and results from a build-up of scar tissue between your intestine and your reduced stomach or at an intestine-to-intestine connection (anastomosis).

The staple line leak rate studies were done with less effective surgical techniques. Newer techniques may result in lower risks.

Blood clots are a concern with any surgery. Your surgeon will take steps to reduce the risk, including blood thinners and the use of compression stockings after surgery. They will also have you up and moving as soon as possible after surgery.

For more information about complications, visit our Gastric Sleeve Complications page.

Side Effects & Challenges

The most common gastric sleeve side effects and challenges include: (13) (14) (15)

  • Digestive issues
  • Sagging skin
  • Weight regain

Digestive Issues

Potential digestive issues resulting from gastric sleeve surgery include: (16) (17)

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Indigestion (Dyspepsia)
  • Gallstones
  • Intolerance to certain foods
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiency

About 1 in every 5 patients experience Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in the first 12 months. The good news is that this tends to be a shorter-term issue. After 3 years, the GERD rate drops to around 3% (10).

GERD is a highly variable chronic condition that is characterized by periodic episodes of gastroesophageal reflux and usually accompanied by heartburn. It may result in histopathologic changes (change in the microscopic structure) in the esophagus. It also often leads to esophagitis. GERD increases the risk of some bariatric surgery complications such as dumping syndrome and sepsis, but the condition is also improved for many following bariatric surgery.

Several at-home treatments are effective for GERD, including avoiding certain foods and drinks (alcohol, citrus juice, tomato-based food, and chocolate), waiting 3 hours before lying down after a meal, eating smaller meals and elevating your head 8 inches when you lay down. If these don’t work, your doctor may recommend/prescribe antacids, H2 blockers or even Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPI).

The other digestive issues listed above can often be addressed with diet and behavior changes.

Sagging Skin

For most obese patients, the skin has been stretched out for so long to accommodate the extra weight that it has lost its elasticity. Gastric sleeve surgery causes most patients to lose a lot of weight very quickly, and your skin simply can’t keep up.

The extra skin may be embarrassing. It can also cause several issues ranging from minor to severe, including:

  • Difficulty getting dressed
  • Difficulty exercising, which may impact long-term weight maintenance and health
  • Skin fold rashes or breakdown of skin
  • Skin fold infections

In some cases, patients manage sagging skin with body-contouring undergarments. In more serious cases, patients have plastic surgery to remove the excess skin. Surgery to remove excess skin is often covered by insurance.

See our Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss page for more information.

Weight Regain

After two years, about 1 out of 20 gastric sleeve patients have gained back some weight from their low point. That number increases to 3 out of every 4 patients after 6 years (18).

At 5 years, the average gastric sleeve patient regains at least 25% and possibly as much as 50% of the weight they lost (19).

Just as bad, the more weight you gain back, the more likely your health problems are to return. For example, one gastric sleeve study found this difference in Type 2 diabetes remission:

  • Year 1: 56% of patients
  • Year 5: 20% of patients

This return of Type 2 diabetes happened for patients who gained back weight (20).

The reason for weight regain?

Most patients who regain weight do so for one of the following reasons:

  • They consume calories in liquid form, such as protein shakes, pureed foods, smoothies, etc. As reviewed in the Diet section above, your new sleeve stomach works by making you feel full sooner. Since liquids don’t make you feel as full as solid foods, you’ll eat more and gain weight if you get your calories from liquids instead of solids.
  • They “slip” in their dedication and start to overeat or eat the wrong things. This can stretch out their smaller stomachs.
  • Even if you stick with the correct diet program, there’s still a risk of weight regain. Over time, the stomach may still stretch and lead to weight regain.

Remember, gastric sleeve is one of the best tools for weight loss, but it is only a tool. To avoid weight regain, eat the right foods and make the right lifestyle choices.

See our Weight Gain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery page for more weight maintenance advice.

For surgical options to address weight regain, see our Gastric Sleeve Revision Surgery page.


How Does Gastric Sleeve Compare to Other Weight Loss Procedures?

  • One of the best for weight loss & health improvement

  • 1 of 3 procedures that makes patient feel less hungry

  • Lower risk than other procedures that result in large amounts of weight loss

  • 1 of 3 procedures that is not reversible

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery is the most popular surgical weight loss procedure by far.

In the United States, it now makes up over 60% of all weight loss surgery procedures performed. This is up from 24% in 2011.

During the same time frame:

Newer procedures like gastric balloon, vBloc Therapy, and AspireAssist are becoming more popular, but they are still nowhere near as popular as the sleeve.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Positives

Gastric sleeve has earned its place as the most popular procedure for several reasons:

  • Weight loss is as good or better than gastric bypass. It is much better than after lap band surgery, gastric balloon, and vBloc Therapy.
  • Health Improvement is better than every procedure other than duodenal switch.
  • Reduced hunger – only gastric sleeve, duodenal switch, and vBloc Therapy make you feel less hungry.
  • Short-term risk of gastric sleeve is similar to gastric bypass and lower than duodenal switch.
  • Long-term risk of gastric sleeve is lower than gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and lap band surgery.
  • No external device – There is no external device left inside the body after gastric sleeve surgery as there is with Lap-Band, gastric balloon, vBloc Therapy, and AspireAssist, so there is no risk of device-related complications. While the risk of device-related complications is relatively low for vBloc Therapy, gastric balloon, and AspireAssist, it is a concern and should be considered for Lap Band.
  • Compared to gastric bypass and duodenal switch (DS):
    • Comparable improvement in obesity-related health problems
    • Quicker recovery than bypass or DS
    • Complication rates are lower than bypass or DS
    • Risk of vitamin deficiency is lower than bypass or DS
    • Little to no risk of dumping syndrome (unlike gastric bypass)
    • Side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea should be less likely than bypass or DS. If present, they are usually less severe than after gastric bypass.
    • Less expensive overall than bypass or DS. Similar cost if you have insurance that covers weight loss surgery.
    • If you are on anticoagulation medication (blood thinners), gastric sleeve surgery is probably a better choice than gastric bypass to reduce the risk of marginal ulcers.
  • Compared to Lap-Band surgery:
    • Risk of long-term gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is lower with gastric sleeve
    • Risk of esophageal dilation, pouch dilation, and food trapping is much lower with gastric sleeve
    • No risk of external-device-related issues like lap band erosion, band slippage, or port problems with Lap-Band surgery
    • Much lower risk of long-term complications than Lap-Band surgery
    • Fewer follow up doctor visits required than after Lap-Band surgery
    • More expensive overall than Lap-Band surgery. Similar cost if you have insurance that covers weight loss surgery.
  • No dumping syndromeDumping syndrome is experienced by up to 7 out of 10 gastric bypass patients, although many patients report this being a “good thing” since it helps them keep their diet on track. Dumping syndrome is uncommon after gastric sleeve surgery.
  • Cost With Insurance – The cost of gastric sleeve is tied for the lowest with gastric bypass, duodenal switch, and Lap-Band surgery (gastric balloon and vBloc Therapy usually are not covered by insurance).

Gastric Sleeve Surgery Negatives

The gastric sleeve also has negatives compared to some of the other bariatric surgery types:

  1. Not reversible – Unlike lap band, gastric balloon, vBloc Therapy, and AspireAssist, gastric sleeve surgery is irreversible. You cannot change back your smaller stomach. This is not necessarily a “negative”, but it is worth noting. More on this below.
  2. Weight loss (on average) is usually lower than duodenal switch.
  3. Health Improvement is generally not as good as gastric bypass or duodenal switch
  4. Short-term risk is higher than lap band, gastric balloon, vBloc Therapy, and AspireAssist.

Is Being Irreversible a Bad Thing?

The fact that gastric sleeve (vertical sleeve gastrectomy) is not reversible may not be a bad thing.

For example, any nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting are usually short-term issues. About 1 out of 5 sleeve patients have Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) which also improves over time. The GERD rate drops to about 3% after three years.

Patients’ bodies also tend to tolerate the sleeve better than procedures like lap band or gastric bypass. For example, gastric sleeve carries a much lower risk of the following compared to lap band:

  • Esophageal dilation
  • Pouch dilation
  • Food trapping
  • Port problems (since the sleeve does not use a port or any other implanted device)

For a more-detailed comparison, see our Types of Bariatric Surgery page.

To learn which procedure is best for you, click here to take our Choose the Right Procedure Quiz.



  • 7 steps to long-term weight loss

gastric sleeve surgery

1. Start Working with a Top Surgeon As Soon as Possible

Top surgeons will help you effectively navigate the various procedure choices, pre-surgery steps, financing, and insurance options:

  1. Many surgeons offer a free initial consultation, free local seminar, or free webinar. These will give you a better idea of what to expect and allow you to ask questions.
  2. Many also provide a free insurance check. They will also help you appeal any denials or find financing.
  3. Most insurance companies need proof of a medically supervised diet program. Your surgeon will set this up for you if you haven’t done so already.
  4. Your surgeon will push you towards new habits that will be essential to success after surgery. Many surgeons will recommend support group meetings for feedback from actual patients.

2. Two Weeks Out: Prepare for Surgery

You will have completed your pre-op tests, physical, and any other required steps. You should have insurance approval by this point.

You should also be well on your way towards developing your diet and lifestyle habits.

In the week or two leading up to surgery, you’ll go to the hospital pre-surgery department. They will perform an EKG, blood work, and any last minute tasks or other pre-op tests.

You’ll meet with the surgeon one more time to wrap up final tests and forms. The night before surgery, do not eat or drink anything starting at midnight.

3. Surgery Day

You’ll arrive at the hospital at least two hours before surgery to allow for prep time. The gastric sleeve procedure itself will take about 2 hours to perform. Immediately after surgery, you’ll have a dedicated nurse to manage your pain and check your vitals.

Click here for more about what to expect in the hospital.

4. Recovery

Most gastric sleeve patients are in the hospital for 2 or 3 days. You can’t eat or drink anything for at least 24 hours after surgery. And your your surgeon will want you to get up and walk around as soon as possible to start the healing process.

You’ll leave as soon as your surgeon is confident that you are well on the road to full recovery. You’ll need someone to drive you home from the hospital and care for you for at least a few days following surgery. Full recovery generally happens within 2 to 4 weeks.

Click here for more about the recovery process.

5. Adjust to Your New Post-Surgery Diet & Lifestyle

For the first 4 to 5 weeks after surgery, you will go from a clear liquid diet to your “new normal” gastric sleeve diet. You should also continue your transition into a more active lifestyle. You will feel full sooner, less hungry, and start to experience weight loss within a couple weeks.

Your surgeon’s dietitian or nutritionist will help you determine an appropriate diet. See the Diet & Life After section of this page for more information.

6. Attend Support Groups Regularly

Regular support group participation leads to:

  1. Reduce post-op recovery time
  2. Lead to as much as 12% more long-term weight loss

Your surgeon will be able to recommend an in-person group near you.

7. Ongoing Doctor Visits

Your surgeon will schedule a follow up visit within 2 weeks to ensure you are recovering well and to answer any questions. Later visits will be scheduled as-needed.



  • Click here to take the gastric sleeve quiz

Gastric Sleeve: Test Your Knowledge

Well-educated patients are more likely to be successful over the long-term. Test your knowledge to ensure that you’re ready to take the next step!

YOUR GOAL: Try to answer at least 11 out of 12 questions correctly

Take the Gastric Sleeve Quiz

Patient Community & Expert Advice

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Questions From Other Visitors*

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page…

My Experience After Gastric Sleeve Surgery*

I am 3 years post gastric sleeve surgery. I lost 62 kilos (137 lbs) in the first 10 months (weighed 124 kilos - 273 lbs - prior to surgery). I…

6 Mo. After Gastric Sleeve: Warnings & Successes*

I had some pretty major complications after my gastric sleeve surgery (I blew out some staples in my stomach, probably from rushing my solid food choices) and was very ill…

Sleep Apnea, GERD and Gastric Sleeve Surgery*

Why are people with sleep apnea and GERD at high risk during gastric sleeve bypass surgery? And what are the associated deaths 3 to 5 years following surgery?My husband is…

Happy Life with Challenges 4 Years After Gastric Sleeve*

Having a VSG (gastric sleeve) is the best thing I could ever have done for myself. It has changed my life in so many ways. I was 28 years old…

Hunger Pains & Stomach Growling 5 Days After Gastric Sleeve Surgery*

I had the gastric sleeve done 9/8/15 and the second day post op I started getting hungry. The hunger pains I'm experiencing are some of the worst I've ever experienced.…

How Fast Will I Lose Weight After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?*

Hi! I have my gastric sleeve surgery coming up in a couple weeks and am trying to prepare for how fast I will be losing weight after my procedure. I…

Weight Regain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery. Help!*

Hi, I had the gastric sleeve surgery 2 years ago this March. First year, dropped weight like a rock. It was fantastic. I kept to the diet and exercise instructions…

Gastric Sleeve vs. Stomach Stapling*

Hi, 23 years ago I had my stomach stapling. In the beginning it was a great success. Unfortunately, in 2001 I had to have some of the staples removed as…

Weight Loss Surgery for Patient with Ulcerative Colitis*

Is it safe to have weight loss surgery (gastric sleeve in my case) if I have ulcerative colitis?I just had AAA repair surgery one month ago for colon ischemia.Is it…

Taking Appetite Suppressants Before Bariatric Surgery*

Can I take a prescription or over the counter appetite suppressant before bariatric surgery?I'm scheduled to have gastric sleeve surgery in 10 days and want to make sure that it's…

Lap Band Revision to Gastric Sleeve with Low BMI*

I had my lap band for 7 years, Starting weight 222 ending weight 129 I'm 5'4". In July of 2014 I had to have it removed due to slippage and…

Pre-Op Concerns for Gastric Sleeve Patient*

I am scheduled to have gastric sleeve surgery. I have great confidence in my surgeon and that he will make the procedure as safe as he can. However, I am…

Is Gastric Sleeve The Best Weight Loss Surgery For Pregnancy?*

Dear Bariatric Surgery Source, I have been enjoying your site so far, thank you for all the info (it really helps!). But, I was hoping to find a little more…

Worried About Excess Skin After Gastric Sleeve*

I'm 18 years old, weigh between 250-260 pounds, and am 5'4 1/2 (BMI of 44). I'm so scared the I will have severe excess skin and still feel ugly even…

Gastric Sleeve Effect on Lazy Bowel Syndrome*

I have "lazy bowel" syndrome. How would the gastric sleeve procedure effect me?

Can I Drink Alcohol After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?*

Dear Madam or Sir, I've been looking into weight loss surgery and was hoping you could provide me with some more details about it and alcohol restrictions. I have a…


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* Disclaimers: Content: The information contained in this website is provided for general information purposes and your specific results may vary depending on a variety of circumstances. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Advertising: Bariatric Surgery Source, LLC has entered into referral and advertising arrangements with certain medical practices, original equipment manufacturers, and financial companies under which we receive compensation (in the form of flat fees per qualifying action) when you click on links to our partners and/or submit information. Read More