Gastric Sleeve Surgery Statistics & Facts

Gastric Sleeve Statistics, Facts

More than 50% of weight-loss (bariatric) surgeries performed annually in the U.S. are gastric sleeve surgeries. Gastric sleeve operations are also common worldwide, with around 380,000 patients undergoing the procedure every year. However, only 1% of people that qualify for the surgery actually end up getting it. Learn more about bariatric surgery statistics.

The data and statistics gathered in this article are taken from the CDC, NIH, IFSO, ASMBS, and CMS.

An Overview of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric Sleeve Surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a transformative bariatric procedure designed to promote weight loss by modifying the size of the stomach. During this operation, approximately 80% of the stomach is removed, resulting in the formation of a tubular structure resembling the size and shape of a banana.

This surgical intervention achieves weight loss by two primary mechanisms. Firstly, the reduction in stomach size restricts the volume of food an individual can consume in a single sitting, promoting a sensation of fullness sooner during meals. Simultaneously, the procedure curtails the production of hunger hormones in the stomach, effectively diminishing appetite and cravings. 

By addressing both the physical and hormonal aspects of overeating, gastric sleeve surgery plays a vital role in preventing the recurrence of weight gain after initial loss. This dual-action approach is important in sustaining long-term weight management success.

Who qualifies for gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery is a viable option for those meeting specific criteria. As mentioned earlier, despite its potential benefits, only a mere 1% of qualified people undergo this surgery. Here’s an overview of the qualifications:

Severe Obesity (Class III)

To qualify for gastric sleeve surgery, individuals must exhibit severe obesity, classified as Class III. This determination relies on the body mass index, calculated using weight and height. Specifically, a body mass index of 40+ qualifies, or a body mass index of at least 35 accompanied by at least one obesity-related disease.

Prior Unsuccessful Weight Loss Attempts

Prospective candidates need to demonstrate unsuccessful attempts at weight loss before surgery. Typically, insurance approval asks for spending three to six months on a medically supervised weight loss plan. This effort underscores commitment and serves as a necessary step for coverage.

Physical and Mental Preparedness

An essential aspect of qualification involves being physically and mentally prepared for the surgery and recovery. This entails engaging with a multidisciplinary team comprising dietitians, psychologists, and other medical specialists. Through counseling and screening processes, candidates undergo thorough evaluation, ensuring readiness for the weight loss journey that lies ahead of them.

By meeting these criteria, individuals enhance their eligibility for gastric sleeve surgery, paving the way for a transformative and potentially life-changing experience.

Weight Loss Success Rate Following Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric Sleeve Surgery has demonstrated an impressive success rate, with outcomes ranging between 80-90%. This procedure proves to be a significant tool in aiding patients in their weight loss journey. Let’s break down the weight loss progression after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery:

Immediate Impact (First 2 Weeks)

In the initial two weeks post-surgery, individuals commonly experience a rapid reduction in weight, shedding approximately 10-20 pounds. Remarkably, most patients witness a consistent daily weight loss of about one pound during this early phase.

Early Months (First 3 Months)

As the journey progresses into the first three months, patients achieve substantial results, with an average of 35-45% of excess weight loss. This early stage lays a foundation for the transformative changes that follow.

Halfway Mark (First 6 Months)

At the six-month mark, the weight loss continues its momentum, reaching an impressive 50-60% of excess weight loss. This mid-point marks a significant milestone in the transformative process post-gastric sleeve surgery.

One-Year Milestone

By the end of the first year, individuals typically achieve a substantial weight loss, ranging between 60-70% of excess weight. This remarkable progress underscores the effectiveness of Gastric sleeve surgery in supporting long-term weight management.

Long-Term Success (12-24 Months)

The majority of patients reach their lowest weight 12-24 months post-surgery, solidifying the sustained impact of sleeve gastrectomy over an extended period.

Seven Years Post-Op

Long-term success remains evident even seven years post-surgery.  Notably, participants maintained their weight loss during the post-operative years. Three to seven years after surgery, individuals who had gastric bypass surgery regained, on average, only 3.9% of their body weight. 

These statistics underscore the profound impact of gastric sleeve surgery, offering not only initial weight loss success but also demonstrating its effectiveness in supporting individuals in maintaining their weight loss journey over the years.

Gastric Sleeve vs. Gastric Bypass Surgery

When comparing the Gastric Sleeve to Gastric Bypass Surgery, several advantages emerge, making the gastric sleeve an appealing choice for many patients.

Surgical Simplicity and Duration

Gastric Sleeve surgery stands out for its technical simplicity. The procedure typically lasts between 40 to 70 minutes, significantly shorter than the 2 to 3 hours required for gastric bypass surgery. This concise operating time not only contributes to reduced surgical risks but also facilitates a quicker recovery for patients.

Nutrient and Vitamin Deficiency Risk

One of the notable advantages of the gastric sleeve procedure is the lower chance of nutrient or vitamin deficiencies compared to gastric bypass surgery. The gastric sleeve approach preserves the natural absorption processes of the digestive system, minimizing the risk of nutritional complications in the long term.

Reduced Long-Term Complications

Sleeve gastrectomy has demonstrated a lower incidence of long-term complications when compared to gastric bypass. While gastric bypass patients may face potential complications such as bowel obstruction, marginal ulcers, and internal hernias, the occurrence of these issues among gastric sleeve patients is exceedingly rare. This places gastric sleeve as a favorable option for those prioritizing long-term health and well-being.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery and Disease Prevention

Sleeve gastrectomy offers a comprehensive approach to disease prevention. Below are key statistics and facts showcasing the positive impact of this surgery on prevalent health issues:

Heart Disease

One of the most noteworthy benefits of weight loss surgery is the reduction in the risk of heart disease. Studies reveal an impressive 83% lower risk post-surgery. This outcome is attributed to the positive impact of bariatric surgery on key contributors to heart disease:

  • Type 2 diabetes demonstrates a remarkable 90% improvement.
  • High cholesterol witnesses an 80% resolution.
  • High blood pressure experiences a 70% resolution.

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Within six months post-surgery, over 70% of patients previously reliant on medication to manage high blood pressure achieve normal readings without medication.

Breathing Problems

Sleep apnea, characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep, is resolved in 74-98% of cases, and asthma witnesses improvement in 82% of individuals. 

Aches and Pains

This surgery provides visible relief from the aches and pains plaguing the hips, knees, feet, and lower back. This relief begins as early as the first month after surgery, with inflammation subsiding, and further relief accompanies further weight loss. 

Does Insurance Cover Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

In the United States, an understanding among health insurance companies acknowledges obesity as a significant risk factor for various health conditions that can potentially escalate into serious medical issues. This recognition prompts many insurance providers to cover sleeve gastrectomy for individuals with qualifying conditions.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have established specific criteria that determine Medicare coverage for gastric sleeve surgery. To be eligible, individuals must meet the following conditions:

  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
  • Presence of one or more obesity-related health conditions.
  • Inability to achieve weight loss through modifications in diet, exercise habits, or medical interventions.

Notably, Medicare does not extend coverage if an individual is obese but lacks obesity-related health conditions. This underscores the importance of the interconnectedness of obesity with other health factors in the coverage decision.

For those without insurance coverage, understanding the financial landscape is important. On average, the expenses can fluctuate between $15,000 to upwards of $25,000.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, gastric sleeve surgery stands as an effective intervention for individuals suffering with obesity. As patient satisfaction remains high, it becomes evident that this surgery is not merely a physical transformation but a good approach towards improving overall well-being. 


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