The vertical sleeve gastrectomy is a surgical technique for weight loss. The VSG surgery alters the size of your stomach so you will be encouraged to eat less and feel full faster. Having this weight loss surgery can greatly change your eating habits and lifestyle. This is a tool for weight loss rather than a solution, so you will still be expected to eat healthy, control your portion sizes, and exercise following surgery.
To learn more about VSG surgery and other approaches for surgical weight loss, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
When Should VSG Surgery Be Considered?
This form of weight loss surgery is performed for those who are severely obese and have been unsuccessful losing weight with diet, exercise or medication.
VSG surgery is typically considered when your body mass index (BMI) is above 40 or you are approximately 100 pounds overweight. If your BMI is above 35, you may still qualify to have this surgery if you have a chronic health condition related to obesity such as diabetes, sleep apnea, severe arthritis, or heart disease.
For those that need to lose weight before undergoing a gastric bypass, VSG surgery can be a good option as part of a larger approach to weight loss. Your doctor can help you determine if this is a good choice for you.
Before Your Procedure
Prior to undergoing this surgical procedure, your surgeon will make sure your body is healthy enough for surgery. Your surgeon might advise you to seek care from your additional health care providers in addition to participating in nutritional counseling, classes to educate you on how to care for yourself after surgery, and possibly a visit with a psychologist to evaluate your emotional health.
You will also need to be properly examined, which may include a thorough physical exam, blood tests and a gallbladder ultrasound, etc.
It’s never too early to prepare for your recovery, so if you smoke your doctor may suggest that you quit as soon as possible. You should quit smoking several weeks before surgery and continue not to smoke after your surgery. This is because smoking can increase your risk for complications and slows healing and recovery.
How VSG Surgery Is Performed
Your surgeon will perform this procedure while you are under general anesthesia so you will be asleep and unaware of any pain. With the advancements in technology this procedure is typically performed using a laparoscopic approach rather than making a large incision for and open surgery.
With a laparoscopic approach, your surgery is performed using a laparoscope (tiny camera) that is placed in your belly. The surgeon will make between two to five small incisions to allow access for this. The laparoscope is connected to a video monitor so your surgeon can visualize your stomach. Using this and tiny instruments, your surgeon will remove most of your stomach, followed by joining the remaining portions with surgical staples.
Approximately 85 percent of your stomach will be removed resulting in a shape resembling a banana, hence the name “sleeve.” Your new stomach will be able to hold between two to five ounces of food. This procedure takes approximately 60 to 90 minutes to complete, but this time frame can vary. Your doctor will give you an idea of what you can expect to experience.
Expected Results After the Procedure
Weight loss following this surgery may continue for two to three years for most patients, however, you likely won’t lose as much weight as compared to a gastric bypass. This is because your vertical sleeve leaves a larger portion of remaining stomach. Research studies report that those who undergo this surgery lose more than half of their excess weight on average.
By following your post-surgical diet and exercise recommendations you may be able to manage chronic health conditions related to obesity such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, and arthritis.
Recovery and Eating After Your Surgery
If your procedure was performed using a laparoscope, typically you can return home after two days. For the first week or so after your surgery, you can expect your incisions to feel tender and sore. Pain medicine may be needed during this time for belly pain.
While recovering, you will need to watch your activity level. The amount and types of activity you will be able to perform depends on your type of surgery. If you had an open surgery it is necessary to avoid strenuous activity and heavy lifting while your body heals. You will typically be able to resume normal activity and return to work approximately four to six weeks following your surgery. However, if your procedure was performed laparoscopically, your recovery time will likely be much faster.
Following your surgery, your surgeon will give you instructions for eating. During the first month, you will be eating small amounts of soft foods and drinking liquids while your stomach is healing. It is recommended that you sip water throughout the day to remain hydrated, chew food well before swallowing, and stop eating when you feel full. If your food is not properly chewed or you overeat you may experience discomfort or nausea and even vomit. It is also important to not continually overeat as this can cause your stomach to stretch and you will not see the weight loss benefits of your surgery.
Slowly, you will be able to introduce solid foods into your diet. It is generally recommended to work with a dietician. Dieticians can advise you on diet and meal planning so that during your period of weight loss and thereafter your body still receives enough protein and the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.
Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions following your VSG surgery. It is very important to follow these instructions carefully, because they are tailored to your specific situation and designed to help you recover safely and see the best possible results.
To learn more about weight loss surgery and what you can expect based on your health, weight, and current situation, contact our office today for a consultation.