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What is Stomach Stapling?

Stomach stapling, also known as Gastroplasty or Vertical Banded Gastroplasty, is a restrictive procedure for managing obesity. The procedure creates a pouch that limits the amount of food the stomach holds. Stomach stapling can combine with a malabsorptive technique for reduced absorption of calories and nutrients. These two techniques combined are called gastric bypass surgery. 

Preparing for stomach stapling surgery

Patients will fill out forms prior to the surgery date. Read these carefully and ask questions if you do not fully understand something.

There are places in the medical history forms to list allergies, medical conditions, and medicines taken. Make sure to list if you are pregnant, smoke or use alcohol as these may affect certain aspects of the procedure.

Next, a complete physical examination is performed to be sure you are healthy enough to undergo surgery. Also, patients may be asked to do blood tests or other diagnostic assessments.

Additional preparations:

  • Patients may be asked to refrain from eating or drinking for 24 hours before the procedure.
  • Your doctor may recommend a dietary and exercise regimen several weeks before the surgery.
  • Doctors may add additional surgery preparations depending on individual needs.

What to expect during a stomach stapling procedure

Patients should expect to stay in the hospital for a couple days after surgery for recovery and observation. The techniques used during the procedure may vary depending on patient needs.

Preparations for surgery:

  • An intravenous sedative may be given to put the patient to sleep.
  • The surgical site must be shaved and cleaned.
  • During the surgery, your vital signs are closely monitored by the anesthesiologist.

Adjustable gastric band procedure - A band with small reservoirs or balloons on the inside will be placed around the top end of the stomach to create the small pouch that will serve as the new stomach. A narrow passage will connect to the rest of the stomach.

Vertical banded gastroplasty - This procedure uses staples and a band to make the pouch. There is a small opening in the bottom of the pouch that releases lesser amounts of food into the stomach. Plastic tissue or mesh covers the opening to prevent it from expanding.

Vertical sleeve gastrectomy - This technique uses staples to block off a percentage of the stomach to create a sleeve that stores small portions of food.

After surgery

After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room until you are stable enough to be moved to a regular hospital room. Depending on how quickly the patient recovers, they could stay in the hospital for several days. The IV may remain in place during recovery for pain management. Your doctor may advise that you move around as much and as often as tolerated to prevent blood clots.  

At first, you will be on a liquid diet and gradually move to soft foods. Many patients are instructed to stay on a soft food diet for up to a month after a stomach stapling procedure. Patients may be instructed to take dietary supplements to replace any nutrients lost due to the nature of the surgery. Set a follow-up appointment before being discharged from the hospital.

Recovering at home

You should receive instructions for bathing and cleaning the surgical site. Gradually increase physical movement as tolerated. Certain movements may increase tenderness and pain. Make sure only to take medications recommended by the doctor, as certain medicines may increase bleeding. It may be wise to avoid heavy lifting to avoid tearing open the stitches. The stitches should get removed at your follow-up appointment.

Reasons to consider stomach stapling

Stomach stapling surgery is believed to provide lasting weight loss in patients who have not seen results through diet and exercise alone.

Potential candidates include

  • Patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher.
  • Men who are overweight by 100lbs or more.
  • Females who are overweight by 80lbs or more.
  • People with moderate to high BMI who have conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease or sleep apnea.

Stomach stapling surgical risks

Complications include, but are not limited to, the following

  • Trouble eating or digesting
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Abdominal infections and scarring
  • Pneumonia due to compromised immune system
  • Blood clotting
  • Gastric band misplacement or erosion

Surgical side effects

Weight loss surgery may be emotionally difficult because your body is in the process of change. It is common to feel tired for a month or so after surgery. Your doctor may advise you to attend emotional and rehabilitation therapy to help you cope with the changes.

Side effects that may be cause for concern

  • Fever or hot and cold sweats
  • Redness or swelling at the surgical site
  • Unusual bleeding or drainage
  • Increased pain

Weight gain statistics after stomach stapling surgery

The average weight lost following a stomach stapling procedure is around 65% (on average patients who are 100 lbs. overweight lose around 70 pounds). About 50% of surgery patients gain some weight back once their weight levels out. Many patients who regain their weight do so within five years of surgery.

Tips for avoiding weight gain after stomach stapling surgery

  • Join surgery support groups – Patients who actively belong to after-surgery support groups on average have 10% less body mass index than those who do not.
  • Seek treatment for eating disorders – Studies indicate that patients with binge eating disorders before surgery have a greater risk of weight gain after the procedure.
  • Join a weight loss program before surgery – Research suggests that the more weight you lose before surgery, the easier it is to prevent weight gain after surgery.
  • Adhere to your doctor's advice – Many people sway from their doctor's advice about diet and exercise once they no longer feel pain and discomfort. Forgetting to follow your doctor's advice may lead to weight gain.

Stomach stapling surgery is meant as a dietary aid procedure to help you jumpstart your weight loss. Keeping the weight off after surgery may depend on the patient’s willingness to adhere to new dietary and lifestyle changes. 

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