Is Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy?
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a technique of weight-loss surgery
that involves altering the size of your stomach so you’ll feel fuller faster,
and eat less food. This surgery will require dramatic changes to your daily
eating habits and is only recommended for patients who meet certain weight and
health criteria. The surgery is a permanent change to your stomach, which means
you must carefully consider your options before undergoing this surgical
Qualifies for the Surgery?
Although specific guidelines may vary from physician to
physician, vertical sleeve gastrectomy isn’t for the casual dieter hoping to lose a few pounds.
Instead, the procedure requires an assessment that focuses on physical and
mental considerations to make sure you can succeed with weight loss following
the surgery. While the surgery may change the size of your stomach, it’s up to
you to change your eating habits.
mass index or BMI is an important measurement to determine if you qualify
for the surgery. Vertical sleeve gastrectomy was traditionally reserved for
highly obese patients. If you have a BMI higher than 40 or are at least 100
pounds overweight you are considered extremely obese. Today those who are
considered just obese or have a BMI of 30.0 to 39.9 may be considered if they
have health risk factors, such as diabetes.
You can figure out your BMI by multiplying your weight in pounds
by 703, and then dividing the result by your height in inches squared. For
example, a 300-lb. person who is 6 feet tall would have a BMI of about 40.7.
BMI alone is not enough to qualify you for the surgery. Your
physician will likely order other tests to make sure your body can handle the
surgery and ensure your weight isn’t related to a medical condition that can be
treated without surgery. These other tests include:
Your doctor also will consider your age, gender, other medical
conditions, and lifestyle habits, such as smoking.
Is the Surgery Performed?
Your surgeon will perform the vertical sleeve gastrectomy while
you’re under general anesthesia. This means you’ll be asleep and free of pain
during the surgery. Most of the time, the surgery is done in a way that is
minimally invasive. This means that your surgeon will use small incisions to
insert thin surgical tools and a tiny camera to see inside your stomach.
Your surgeon will use these tools to remove a portion of your
stomach. They’ll transform it from a pouch-shaped organ to one that is shaped
more like a vertical tube, hence the name of the surgery. Staples will be
applied to join together the remaining stomach portions.
In total, the surgery will take anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes,
providing you don’t experience any issues during surgery. The procedure is not
reversible in the way that some other weight-loss surgery options such as
gastric band are.
Results Can I Expect?
The vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure removes an estimated 85
percent of your stomach. Your new, sleeve-like stomach can hold about 2 to 5
oz. of food. Following surgery, your physician will ask you to follow a special
diet that allows the stomach to heal.
A few weeks later, you’ll follow a diet that focuses on eating
small amounts of healthy foods. Your physician may recommend taking vitamin
supplements to ensure you get the nutrients you need.
You’ll likely lose weight over the course of two to three years.
The procedure isn’t associated with losing as much weight as gastric bypass
because the vertical sleeve is a larger stomach pouch. By following the
recommended diet, you also may reverse chronic, weight-related conditions such
as asthma, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, and high
Are the Surgery’s Side Effects?
The vertical sleeve gastrectomy is not without side effects. A
thorough discussion with your surgeon about what to expect post-surgery is vital
to your surgery’s success.
Risks associated with the surgery itself and being under general
- allergic reactions to the medications used to
put you to sleep
- trouble breathing
- blood loss
- blood clots that can travel to the lungs
- stroke or heart attack during surgery (although
uncommon, it is a possibility)
- infection or sepsis
Post-surgery, you must work with your surgeon to minimize
surgical risks, including:
- stomach irritation
- stomach injury
- nerve damage
- leakage at the stomach stapling site
- scarring that can affect how food moves in your
- vomiting from eating too much food
Providing you don’t experience any immediate post-surgical
complications, you can expect to go home two days after the procedure.