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Health Team

Sleeve gastrectomy is option for bariatric patients

Posted August 14, 2013 5:45 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2013 6:53 p.m. EDT

— Dawn-Marie Ennis is learning all she can from Deb Creech about life after weight-loss surgery.

Creech, 57, weighed 349 pounds last summer. But since surgery last November, she's lost 115 pounds.

“Because of my family history, I knew it was only a matter of time before diabetes and high blood pressure,” Creech said.

At first, she expected gastric bypass surgery, in which the stomach is reduced to the size of an egg and bypasses the upper intestine so less food is absorbed into the body.

However, Creech takes a blood-thinning drug that requires the upper intestine. Dr. Lindsey Sharp, a surgeon with Rex Bariatric Specialists, recommended a sleeve gastrectomy.

“The challenge for us is trying to match the right procedure to the patient,” Sharp said. “The sleeve gastrectomy is a procedure where we remove about 80 to 85 percent of the stomach.”

Ennis, 42, has lupus, an autoimmune disease that can affect the skin, joints or organs. Her condition also makes gastric bypass more risky, so she's getting the sleeve gastrectomy.

“I'm looking forward to this,” Ennis said. “I know it's going to be a big change in my life, and it's something that I really need for myself.”

With a sleeve gastrectomy, the stomach can hold a bit more than with gastric bypass. But it still helps the patient feel satisfied after small meals.

“They alter the hormones in the small intestine that control hunger,” Sharp said. That helps patients lose excess weight and achieve their goals.

“My goal is to be able to get up and down off the ground and to dance again,” Ennis said.