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A gastrectomy is a procedure done to remove part or all of the stomach. When done using "keyhole" surgery it is called a laparoscopic gastrectomy. While the stomach is part of the digestive tract, with several lifestyle changes and the assistance of your doctors, you can still digest liquids and foods.


A laparoscopic gastrectomy is generally done as treatment for cancerous tumours in the stomach but may also be done to remove polyps, or growths inside your stomach or to treat severe stomach ulcers. There are three major types of gastrectomies: partial, complete and sleeve gastrectomies. Which of the above-mentioned types chosen by your surgeon will depend on your particular case.

What happens during a laparoscopic gastrectomy?

Under general anaesthesia a few small incisions will be made in the abdomen. Through these incisions a laparoscope, which is a thin surgical tool fitted with a camera and light, will be inserted. This provides your surgeon with images of the internal structures without the need for a larger incision. With this visualisation, Dr Heyns can remove part (a partial gastrectomy) or all (a complete gastrectomy) of the stomach as well as some nearby tissue like your lymph nodes.

Thereafter, depending on your specific case, your digestive tract will be rebuild accordingly. If a partial gastrectomy was done, the remaining part of your stomach will be connected to your bowel. If the entire stomach was removed your esophagus will be connected directly to your small intestine.

While Dr Heyns prefers the least invasive approach, this surgery can also be done through traditional open surgery.

What to expect after surgery

You can expect to stay in the hospital for one to two weeks after the surgery. While in hospital you will be fed through a tube in your vein until you are able to eat normally. Various lifestyle and dietary changes may need to be made but your doctor will discuss this with you prior to surgery. A dietician will then discuss your restrictions with food after surgery. Since laparoscopic surgery is less painful and allows for a quicker recovery time, you can expect to be back to your normal day-to-day routine in 3 weeks.


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