Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery limits how much food your stomach can hold and how much nutrition your body can absorb.

Laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy (LSG) surgery — also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy or a gastric sleeve — induces weight loss.

About 80% of your stomach is removed during the bariatric procedure, including the portion of the stomach that creates feelings of hunger. The tapered shape of your new stomach will resemble a shirt sleeve, hence the name.

LSG surgery is typically recommended for people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater.

People with a BMI of 30 or more may also be eligible for the procedure if they have an underlying condition related to obesity, such as:

Insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, may cover some or all of the cost of LSG surgery.

In addition to qualifying BMI numbers, most insurance providers have a list of requirements you must meet before they approve coverage, such as:

  • at least one letter of recommendation from a doctor or other healthcare professional
  • a well-documented medical history demonstrating that you have tried other treatments for weight loss
  • one or more underlying conditions related to obesity

One 2017 study found the mean cost of bariatric surgery, which includes LSG surgery, was around $14,400, with prices ranging from around $7,400 to $33,500. If you don’t have insurance, or your insurance won’t cover it, you’re responsible for the full cost of the procedure.

Many centers offer payment plans and other forms of financial assistance.

A 2021 research review found that the most common complications include:

Less common complications include:

Your clinician will likely recommend outpatient testing about 3 weeks before LSG surgery. This testing typically includes:

You usually start a liquid protein diet about 2 weeks before LSG surgery.

Your clinician will likely ask you to stop taking any over-the-counter medications known to increase bleeding in the week leading up to surgery. These usually include ibuprofen and aspirin.

If you take prescription medications that thin the blood, do not stop taking them unless you’re directed to do so. Talk with your clinician to determine whether you should continue to take the medication or decrease use.

Your clinician may also ask you to avoid eating or drinking for at least 12 hours before surgery.

A doctor or other healthcare professional administers general anesthesia before the procedure begins. LSG surgery takes about 2 hours to complete.

Your surgeon then makes small incisions in your abdomen to insert a laparoscope and other necessary instruments. They remove over two-thirds of your stomach and staple the remaining portion closed.

The pylorus muscle and the stomach entrance are untouched during this procedure. Your new stomach will resemble the shape of a banana, reducing the amount of food needed to feel full.

You’ll likely remain in the hospital for 2 to 3 days after surgery.

You may be able to return to work and other daily activities in as little as 2 to 3 weeks. Full recovery may take up to 8 weeks.

You’ll be on an all-liquid diet for the first few weeks. From there, you’ll introduce puréed, soft, and solid foods in phases. You can likely eat solid foods 1 month after surgery.

If you don’t take the time to reintroduce foods in phases, you may experience severe stomach pain and vomiting.

Your stomach won’t be able to hold as much as before. Eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop when you’re full.

Your clinician may recommend taking a daily supplement to help prevent nutrient deficiencies. They may also recommend routine blood work to monitor your vitamin, mineral, and protein levels.

How does laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery compare to other weight loss surgeries?

LSG surgery is less taxing on the body than other gastric bypass procedures. One 2018 study found that LSG surgery has fewer short-term risks than gastric bypass surgery.

Unlike LAP-Band surgery, LSG surgery is not reversible. However, LSG surgery does leave the option for a duodenal switch surgery at a later date.

How quickly do you see results or lose weight after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery?

You will likely lose weight rapidly during the first few months. Weight loss typically slows 1 year after LSG surgery. Maintaining a sustainable weight management routine is crucial to lifelong success.

How much weight can you lose with laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery?

Most people who undergo LSG surgery lose 40% to 50% of their body weight within 2 years.

What’s the difference between laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy surgery and gastric bypass surgery?

Unlike gastric bypass surgery, LSG surgery does not involve rerouting the intestines. The gastrointestinal tract is untouched in LSG surgery.

LSG surgery reduces your stomach size and removes the portion that elicits feelings of hunger.

LSG surgery induces weight loss by removing most of the stomach, subsequently restricting your food intake. It can be performed as a final weight loss procedure, or be a bridge to a more extensive bariatric procedure later.

You can expect a 75% chance of improving obesity-related conditions, including sleep apnea, diabetes, and high blood pressure, with LSG surgery. Such outcomes will greatly improve your overall health and quality of life.

Catasha Gordon is a sexuality educator from Spencer, Oklahoma. She’s the owner and founder of Expression Over Repression, a company built around sexual expression and knowledge. You can typically find her creating sex education materials or building some kinky hardware in a fresh set of coffin nails. She enjoys catfish (tail on), gardening, eating off her husband’s plate, and Beyoncé. Follow her everywhere.