For years, bariatric surgeries, such as gastric bypass and lap-band surgery, have been the go-to options for people struggling with their weight loss efforts. These surgeries are highly effective at helping people cut down on their food intake and subsequently drop pounds. However, some people are far too heavy for these procedures, and these are the patients who require the most help. Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is an alternative to the traditional weight-loss surgeries, and it has proven to be successful in people with high BMIs. This restrictive procedure removes a large portion of a person’s stomach, leaving only a slim section that retains the sphincter muscle at the top and bottom of the stomach. But is removing that much of your stomach safe?
The surgery is usually performed in a hospital or surgery center under general anesthesia. Through multiple small incisions made in the stomach, tools are used laparoscopically to begin cutting away the stomach. Up to 85% of the stomach is removed during the procedure, and the remaining parts are stapled together to create a very slim column ranging in size from 1 to 5 ounces depending on the surgeon. Removing this much of the stomach restricts the amount of food that can be consumed without causing any gastrointestinal malabsorption. The nerves to the stomach and the outlet valve stay in tack, keeping the function of the stomach the same while drastically reducing the size. Once the staples are safely and securely in place, the patient is sutured up and recovery can begin.
This advanced form of weight-loss surgery has a number of benefits that set it apart from more traditional techniques. For morbidly obese individuals who cannot receive Roux-en-Y or vertical banded gastroplasty, this treatment allows them to lose enough weight to become a candidate for more radical surgery. Since Vertical Gastrectomy has no intestinal bypass, potential complications like marginal ulcers, vitamin and protein deficiencies and intestinal obstructions are avoided.
Another positive aspect of Sleeve Gastrectomy is that the portion of the stomach that is removed is responsible for creating and releasing the Ghrelin hormone, which causes hunger. After surgery, the production of this hormone decreases, resulting in a loss of appetite. Also, the removed stomach portion is the area that stretches the most when eating, and the column that remains is the least expandable, creating resistance to a high volume of food. Vertical Sleeve weight-loss surgery requires small incisions, giving it the advantages of a minimally invasive surgery. This means less downtime, fewer scars and very little pain.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is a highly effective procedure, but there are some disadvantages to having this weight-loss surgery. As with any weight-loss treatment, there is the chance that very few pounds will be shed, and even the potential for weight gain. This is due in large part to patients being unable to adjust to the demanding and restrictive diet that this surgery needs in order to be successful. Patients must limit their intake to small portions—no bigger than a cup—and make sure they do not consume too much, because the stomach still has the ability to expand. Also, soft calories like ice cream and milk can be absorbed easily, which can slow weight loss significantly. Patients need to eat the right kinds of foods like protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to help them lose the weight.
Those with a high BMI will more than likely require a second procedure to help with the rest of the weight loss. But two procedures may ultimately be safer and more effective in the long run. Vertical Sleeve employs staples to close up what remains of the stomach, so leaks or other staple-related problems may occur. Patients also need to consider that since this surgery removes the stomach, it is not reversible.
Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is performed as a closed surgery, resulting in a shorter recovery. However, the period after surgery is not easy when it comes to diet. As mentioned, a patient’s diet after Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery is very regimented. For the first 2-4 weeks, they are limited to liquid protein drinks and water. It then gradually progresses to thicker food, and after two months they can start eating regular foods. It is recommended for patients to eat around 500 calories a day, and after a year they consume between 900 and 1500 calories depending on their level of activity.
If you’re struggling with losing weight and are considering weight-loss surgery, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy is definitely worth looking into. However, the best thing you can do to find out if it’s the right course of treatment for you is to speak with a certified doctor or surgeon. They can assess your health, medical history and current weight to figure out if Sleeve Gastrectomy is really the best choice.