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Bariatric Surgery: Gastric Sleeve Resection Targets Hunger

Dr. Giath Alshkaki, leading Virginia, Washington DC area bariatric surgeon, discusses the metabolic advantages of gastric sleeve resection surgery in treating obesity.

Alexandria, VA – Dr. Giath Alshkaki, founder of Infinity Surgical Associates, is also Medical Director of The Center for Infinity Colorectal Health in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. area and leader of the GI lab at Inova Alexandria Hospital. As an expert in abdominal and other colorectal and endocrine surgeries, Dr. Alshkaki specializes in treating obese patients seeking bariatric surgery. Patients in need of medical intervention to lose weight often explore options such as gastric lap band surgery or, gastric bypass surgery and sleeve gastrectomy surgery.

 The term bariatric surgery is used to encompass all weight loss surgical procedures.

Obesity is an often-discussed epidemic in the United States. The Center for Disease Control estimates that one-third of U.S. adults are overweight and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese. Obesity is diagnosed in individuals with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or greater. After struggling with weight loss issues for years, many adults turn to bariatric surgery to improve their health and quality of life.

Dr. Alshkaki is the first surgeon to introduce gastric sleeve resection to the Washington, D.C. area George Washington University Hospital. This unique procedure benefits patients in two ways:  first, it leaves them with a smaller stomach; second, it removes the source of ghrelin hormone from the stomach.

Referred to as the “hunger hormone,” ghrelin is what gives us the urge to eat and is found to be elevated in the morbidly obese. According to Dr. Alshkaki, “Gastric sleeve resection is the only true endocrine metabolic surgery of its kind. Patients who’ve had other bariatric procedures often complain of being too full, sometimes to the point of vomiting.” With Dr. Alshkaki’s procedure, excessive hunger is eliminated, so patients never become “too full.” Unless they over eat and that usually does not happen because they usually don’t feel excessive hunger.

Historically, other bariatric procedure patients also experience stomach stretch after a 4-5 year period. To prevent this, Dr. Alshkaki’s customized procedure involves placing a band over the stomach after he completes the sleeve gastric resection. Additionally, he uses state-of-the-art staples during surgery to ensure a leak rate of less than one percent. “Unfortunately, I see a great deal of patients who require a gastric bypass redo or may be suffering from complications such as leakage. What once required open surgery, particularly difficult in obese patients, can now be done laparoscopically with much better long-term and short term results,” says Dr. Alshkaki. A seven-year study of more than 150 patients who underwent gastric sleeve resection showed that 82 percent were able to maintain an excess weight loss of around 80 percent.

Gastric sleeve resection typically requires a 23-hour hospital stay followed by regular office visits. “This is a lifelong commitment,” Dr. Alshkaki stresses, “Patients will see me again and again after surgery to be sure their overall health remains strong and their weight achieves a healthy level.” Patients are released with simple instructions of one chewable baby vitamin each day and a 6-month diet regimen. “After that, they truly can eat what they want, in moderation. And they will be able to eat to satisfaction,” he assures.

Patients of Dr. Alshkaki’s have more than 50 pounds to lose within the first year following surgery. Within the second year, 60-80 percent of the excess weight is lost. Prior to surgery, patients undergo rigorous physical and mental testing. “My patients have a very real, urgent need to improve their overall health and quality of life – but first we must be sure they are mentally and physically capable of having the procedure.” Working with his in-house psychiatrist, Dr. Arda Kasaci, and associates in cardiology, nutrition and other areas, Dr. Alshkaki makes certain that patients are sound surgical candidates.

Infinity Surgical Associates is located in Alexandria, VA and has a fifteen-year history of treating a full range of surgical needs from abdominal and gallbladder surgery to advanced breast surgery and hernia repair.

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