Graham Elliot, judge on the popular TV series Masterchef USA and owner of the Graham Elliot Bistro, lost 155 pounds after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery in July 2013. Talking to Huffington Post, Graham said, “Having three boys, a new baby and health issues from blood pressure to sleep apnea, I realised I just wasn’t able to do this on my own, so I decided to have the weight loss surgery.” The 6-foot-1 Eliot, who slimmed down from 405 pounds to 250 pounds, says he felt on the top of the world after losing so much weight.
Elliot isn’t the only celebrity to have undergone the increasingly popular bariatric surgery; it is now almost common amongst celebrities as well as men and women struggling with weight-gain issues world over. But what exactly is a Gastric Sleeve and is the surgery even available in Pakistan?
Gastric sleeve surgery – also termed as a sleeve gastrectomy – proves to be one of the most preferable weight loss surgeries with minimal to no side effects as such. In this surgery, the surgeon creates a small stomach “sleeve” using a stapling device whereas the rest of the stomach is laproscopically removed. With a smaller stomach, one feels full a lot quicker than they used to, leading to less calorie intake and, in turn, weight loss. The process is not abrupt; rather, one loses weight gradually. And while the radical surgery is irreversible, the stomach – being elastic – can stretch out if you’re not careful. The trick is to stop as soon as you’re full and to always restrict your portions.
Well-known surgeon at South City Hospital Karachi, Dr Mumtaz Maher, who has done more than 500 gastric sleeve surgeries to date, says that by reducing the size of the stomach from its 1 litre capacity to 100-150 ml, the surgery essentially reduces the portion size. This size is scientifically proven to be enough for the necessary nutrients required by the body. “If you eat properly, eating less isn’t a problem,” he believes.
Besides, the surgery is done laproscopically and is minimally invasive which means recovery time is fast. However, there is a proper diet plan and a few other instructions to follow after the surgery to avoid any nutritional deficiency. Laiba*, who has lost 60 pounds in a year after her surgery from South City Hospital, shares, “The scariest part of the surgery is the week that leads up to it. The numerous tests and diet make you very nervous and those nerves get worse until you’re actually being sedated on the operation table. The surgery itself is a 90-minute procedure after which I felt no pain at all. The pain management at South City Hospital was excellent; they attach you to a self-administering pain management ticker which you can press after every half hour and be pain free. I used that for a day and a half after which I was comfortable enough to walk around.”
Moreover, the surgery brings positive and healthy changes to one’s life. When asked about it, Laiba says, “It has changed me and my relationship to food completely. I used to binge and over eat but now my portions are so restricted that I not only eat less but eat healthy to maintain the body’s essential nutrition.”
Gastric sleeve surgery seems to have overtaken gastric bypass and other surgical procedures. According to Dr Mumtaz, “In gastric bypass, the size of the stomach is reduced to that of a golf ball, that is, 20ml. The eating physiology changes; there is not much nutritional absorption resulting in deficiency which is not true for sleeve gastrectomy.”
Also, a dietician is brought on board to take care of the nutritional requirements and facilitate patients after the surgery. “There are regular check-ups following the surgery until we are made sure that the patient is capable of handling his dietary needs on his own,” he adds.
For people who have been trying to lose weight on their own and are yet not successful, gastric sleeve surgery is considered the best form of bariatric surgery to go for. As with every major surgery, this too, comes with risks and possible side effects but for patients suffering from diabetes, heart disease, hormonal imbalance, arthritis and other obesity related diseases the risk is considered worth the benefits. It’s definitely an option worth looking into.
*Name has been changed to retain privacy