How Does it Work?

The goal of gastric sleeve surgery is to make you feel full without having to eat nearly as much food as you did before the procedure. Since most of your stomach is removed, you feel full after only a small meal. Because you are eating less, you have to eat more often, usually every 3 hours. Eating small amounts of food at shortened intervals ensures that you lose weight quickly and safely.

Another way that gastric sleeve surgery assists you in fast, healthy weight loss is through reducing the level of the hunger hormone “ghrelin.” Ghrelin is produced in the main part of the stomach and is responsible for stimulating appetite in the brain. During the procedure, the surgeon removes most of the stomach, and with it goes most of the ghrelin production. Without ghrelin, you don’t feel as much of an urge to eat. Over time, you establish a habit of eating small meals, which helps you to sustain the weight loss for years.

Your stomach produces ghrelin when it is empty. In addition to stimulating appetite, it also signals your brain to slow down your metabolism. Since a traditional diet typically meant that you would spend most of the time feeling hungry, it’s no wonder the failure rate is so high. Additionally, when your metabolism slows, you feel tired and weak. It is hard to expect a person to want to exercise when they are exhausted and hungry. Your body often produces excess ghrelin after a period of dieting has ended to make up for the time when food was less available. This increase contributes to the prevalence of yo-yo dieting and makes sustained weight loss seem impossible. With the gastric sleeve surgery, your stomach produces very little, if any, ghrelin. Because of this, your urge to eat lowers significantly. A reduces the likelihood you will ever get the urge to overeat again and helps you maintain a healthy weight over a longer period.

More About Ghrelin

Japanese scientists first identified ghrelin in 1999. Several years later, American researchers confirmed that ghrelin is responsible for stimulating appetite, as well as having an effect on the sensation of taste and the reward center of the brain. As far as we know right now, the only hormone that affects appetite is ghrelin.

In 2009 a man named Jim Rudolph appeared on 60 Minutes. In this episode, 60 Minutes documented that Jim had suffered from obesity, weighing in at a high of 460 pounds. He underwent a gastric reduction and was able to achieve a weight of 190 pounds. While the reduction in stomach volume was the main factor in his dramatic weight loss, he had also noted that he no longer felt any urge to eat large amounts of food. 60 Minutes determined that his appetite reduction was a result of a reduction of ghrelin production.

The most frustrating fact about ghrelin is that it increases production when dieting. With more ghrelin in your system, it is significantly more challenging to continue losing weight. The heightened level of ghrelin in your system continues post-diet, causing you to regain all of your lost weight.

Gastric sleeve surgery allows you to lose weight permanently through the drastic reduction of this hormone in your system. Without high levels of ghrelin, you will not feel as hungry nor experience a strong urge to eat even after reducing food intake.