With the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the stomach is restricted by stapling and dividing it vertically. More than 60-80% of the stomach is removed. This surgery is not reversible. The stomach that remains is shaped like a very slim banana and measures between 1 and 5 ounces. The nerves to the stomach and the outlet valve (pylorus) remain intact to preserve the functions of the stomach, while drastically reducing the volume. This method helps weight loss but will require that you change your eating lifestyle permanently.
The surgery generates weight loss by restricting the amount of food (and therefore calories) that can be eaten by removing 60-80% of the stomach without bypassing the intestines or causing any gastrointestinal malabsorption. It is a purely restrictive procedure, but it is not an “easy way out”. If you overeat with your new much smaller stomach, you will fail to lose weight or regain the pounds you initially lost.
By eating only at mealtimes and only when you feel satisfied, your daily food intake will be small enough to lose weight. However, you will have to make required to make the healthiest food choices for successful weight loss. You should consider the sleeve gastrectomy as a permanent procedure. If you stretch your stomach to normal size, you will most likely gain back any lost weight.
The surgery is done laparoscopically using 5-6 small incisions and takes 45-90 minutes. You will typically be required to stay in the hospital for 1-2 nights following surgery. You may require intravenous fluids and medication for nausea after surgery. Your diet will be progressed very slowly after surgery with only clear liquids while in the hospital.
The major complications include leakage from the staple line (1-2%), narrowing of the sleeve (2%) and bleeding (2%). Like the gastric bypass, after the sleeve gastrectomy, patients may not absorb enough vitamins from their diet alone and must take daily vitamin supplements.