Vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG), also called the gastric sleeve is a popular and effective procedure that helps the obese shed excess weight. While weight loss surgery was once thought of as a measure of last resort, these procedures are now often recommended by primary care physicians for patients who are at risk for serious health complications due to their excess weight. Respected Dallas weight loss surgeon Dr. Preeti Malladi has performed these surgeries for many years and has the knowledge, experience, and skills to help patients overcome their weight-related challenges.
What Is Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery?
In a VSG surgery, a portion of the stomach is removed, leaving a small sleeve-like section behind. This sleeve holds much less food than before and thus helps you reduce portions and consume fewer calories.
How it Works
The VSG procedure is performed by a bariatric surgeon and is typically a minimally invasive procedure done under general anesthesia. The surgeon uses a laparoscope (a small camera) to see inside the abdomen and specialized instruments to perform the surgery. Five or six small incisions are made to accommodate the camera and the instruments. This technique is of great benefit to weight loss patients because they avoid the larger incisions and longer healing times of an open surgery.
The surgeon removes about three-fourths of the patient’s stomach, leaving a tube or sleeve behind. The digestive tract is not rerouted as in the gastric bypass. The smaller sleeve-like stomach holds much less food so the patient must eat less, and the removal of a large part of the stomach means the body produces much less of the hormones responsible for hunger.
What Are the Benefits of a Sleeve Gastrectomy?
The VSG procedure is typically performed on weight-loss patients who are at higher risk for complications from anesthesia because of their extremely high BMI (greater than 40) and their comorbidities. The minimally invasive sleeve procedure can be performed in less time than gastric bypass but produces somewhat slower weight loss.
The primary benefit of a sleeve gastrectomy is that you can eat less and still feel satisfied. Just as with any weight loss surgery, VSG does not replace diet and exercise. But it is a critically important tool to use with them to regain control of your health. When the gastric sleeve procedure is combined with these other important lifestyle changes, you can expect significant weight loss within the first year.
Am I a Candidate for Gastric Sleeve Surgery?
If you are considering this operation, it is important to talk to a trusted bariatric surgeon. If you are more than 100 pounds overweight, have a BMI above 40, or have a chronic condition related to your weight, you are likely a candidate for a sleeve gastrectomy which is generally reserved for those who are extremely obese and who would likely not be able to tolerate the longer gastric bypass procedure. Plano & Dallas bariatric surgeon Dr. Preeti Malladi can discuss weight loss surgery with you and determine whether you are a candidate for VSG.
How long does it take to recover from gastric sleeve surgery?
After gastric sleeve surgery, you will stay in the hospital for one to three days. After that, the amount of time needed to fully recover varies greatly from person to person. Some people find that their energy comes back after a week or so and they are eager to get back to work. But most weight loss patients take about three weeks off of work after gastric sleeve surgery.
Does insurance cover vertical sleeve gastrectomy?
Yes, most insurance companies cover the vertical sleeve gastrectomy if it is deemed medically necessary. Every insurance policy is different, so please contact your insurance provider to discuss your coverage.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery
After surgery, you will likely spend 1-3 days in the hospital. There will be some abdominal swelling and your pain will be controlled with medication. Before you leave the hospital, you will receive instructions on how to take care of your incisions, and any restrictions on your activity. It is important that you get up and move around several times every day to avoid developing blood clots in your legs. You should plan on taking at least three weeks to rest and let your body heal before you plan on resuming normal activities.
After your weight loss surgery, you will be on a liquid diet for about a week. After that, you will transition to soft foods for a few weeks. It is very important that you follow your bariatric surgeon’s postoperative dietary instructions at home so you don’t do any damage to your stomach.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
Once you are cleared for exercise by your doctor, you should start exercising regularly. This can be walking, biking, swimming, or any other type of exercise that you enjoy. If you exercise regularly and follow a sensible, high protein diet, you’ll find that you should expect to lose 50-70% of your excess weight in 24 months. Be careful about what you eat and drink as you will get full quickly. Do not overfill your stomach. Follow a low fat, low sugar diet and limit starchy foods.
You will need to take supplements on a daily basis according to your doctor’s instructions to replace nutrients you need that you may not be getting from your diet. You should also avoid alcoholic beverages, aspirin, ibuprofen and NAIDs as you are at increased risk for an ulcer and these substances are hard on the stomach. Stick with acetaminophen for pain relief. We also recommend avoiding carbonated beverages as the excess gas can be unpleasant for weight loss surgery patients.
If you would like to learn more about bariatric surgery, and discuss how a laparoscopic gastric sleeve might fit into your health plan, contact Dr. Malladi to schedule an appointment in either Dallas or Plano.