Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy

There are a number of different ways of losing weight through surgical procedures. One of them is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy. It is classified as a restrictive weight loss procedure as it helps you lose weight by forcing you to reduce the quantity of food you eat.

After undergoing this surgery, you will begin to feel full more quickly whenever you sit down to a meal. This is because only a small part of your stomach will be left for you to hold and digest food. The portion of your stomach that will be able to hold food will have a capacity of only about one ounce.

Vertical Sleeve GastrectomyAs you can see, this is a drastic reduction in the size of the stomach and this kind of surgery is therefore usually reserved only for people who are extremely overweight or severely obese. For most patients it is part of a two-step surgical approach to reducing weight. After undergoing the vertical sleeve gastrectomy and experiencing a significant reduction in body weight, they can safely undergo a more conventional gastric bypass.

How a vertical sleeve gastrectomy is performed

Like most other kinds of surgery, you will need to be completely anaesthetized for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. However, unlike the more common open surgeries, this kind of operation is performed laparoscopically. Instead of cutting and opening up the entire area of operation, the surgeon only makes small incisions on the area through which instruments are inserted into the body. In some cases though, should the surgeon deem it necessary, the procedure will be conducted as a traditional open surgery.

Upon inserting the instruments, the surgeon cuts away more than 80% of the stomach, leaving room for just one ounce of food. After this the stomach walls are then stapled together and before withdrawing the instruments from the patient’s body, the doctor confirms if the staples are firmly in place and doing their job correctly. There should be no leakage from the stomach. Once this is established the surgeon will withdraw the instruments and seal the incisions using sterile tape and absorbable sutures. What you will be left with when these steps have been taken is a much smaller, tube-shaped stomach.

What to expect after surgery

While it’s true that you will have a much smaller stomach and will feel full quickly, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy is not a solution to your weight problems on its own. If you do not change your eating habits, your stomach walls will expand to accommodate the food intake and you will be back to square one. A change in eating habits must accompany the procedure to maintain weight loss; failure to do this can result in stalled weight loss and even in weight gain in extreme cases.

As we mentioned earlier, this kind of surgery should be taken as a first step in the weight loss journey for people who are very obese. Part of the reason is this is that though the stomach size is reduced permanently, the overall weight loss resulting from this procedure is minimal as compared to gastric bypass. It is advisable to undergo a gastric bypass or other more conventional surgical weight loss procedures after your weight is down to a level that such procedures are possible.

Cons of vertical sleeve gastrectomy

As earlier stated, the gains of vertical sleeve gastrectomy are less than those offered by other kinds of surgery. Furthermore, vertical sleeve gastrectomy is still classified as investigational, meaning it is still considered experimental. For this reason, most insurance companies do not include it in their healthcare covers. Even if they do pay for it, you might find it difficult finding a surgeon who performs this kind of surgery.