What is Stomach Stapling?
You may have heard the term “Stomach Staple” and wondered what it was and if it’s different from other weight loss procedures that are commonly offered today. A Stomach Staple was once the go-to bariatric procedure for rapid and long-term weight loss. The idea behind the procedure remains, although the procedure itself has changed quite a bit thanks to advancements in surgery and the expertise and experience of today’s weight loss surgeons. Stomach Staple is now also known by another name: Gastric Sleeve.
Old-style stomach stapling refers to a surgical procedure that portioned off a small part of the stomach, stapling it off from the rest and leaving a small opening that connected it to the rest of the stomach. This slowed the passage of food from the new, smaller part of the stomach into the main area. The result was rapid weight loss in patients who were able to eat less and feel fuller sooner. However, widespread side effects and complications such as severe reflux and stretching of the stomach made the Stomach Staple hard to tolerate long-term and at risk of being phased out.
Gastric Sleeve is more than the next generation of Stomach Stapling; it is the fastest-growing of all the weight loss procedures today, popularized for its easier-to-tolerate, procedure that minimizes the complications while maximizing the weight loss. Gastric Sleeve offers numerous advantages for those who are seeking a permanent weight loss solution.
Major advantages of the Gastric Sleeve procedure
The Gastric Sleeve is far more effective at promoting permanent weight loss than the Stomach Staple ever was because patients are not typically derailed by the need to remove staples in order to cure their gastric reflux or seeing mixed results because the stomach isn’t holding its shape.
Major advantages to the Gastric Sleeve include:
Amount of weight loss—With Gastric Sleeve, people can lose up to 75 percent of their excess weight and maintain it long-term
Rapid weight loss—Unlike other popular procedures like Lap Band, which creates more gradual weight over three years, most of the pounds lost from Gastric Sleeve come in the first year.
Health benefits—The substantial and rapid weight loss from Gastric Sleeve can have a tremendous impact on a person’s overall health, greatly improving their cardiovascular function as well as other health conditions including:
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Sleep apnea
• Joint pain
• Metabolic syndrome
• Gallbladder disease
Individuals also choose Gastric Sleeve because, in addition to being less invasive and having fewer complication than the Stomach Staple, it also has low complication rates overall and is less invasive, with a shorter operating time and recovery period, than popular bariatric procedures like Gastric Bypass.
How Gastric Sleeve works
Instead of portioning off a small part of the stomach and creating a passage from one part to the other like in the old Stomach Staple procedure, Gastric Sleeve involves removing 75 to 80 percent of the stomach through several small incisions, essentially creating a new stomach. There is no change to the digestion process.
The new stomach “pouch” created during Gastric Sleeve resembles a banana and holds a much smaller amount of food—from about 1,500ml of food and liquid to just 50ml! Without the capacity to overeat, patients naturally lose weight. A change in the hormone levels that travel between the stomach, the brain, and the liver after surgery further contributes to weight loss.
The procedure takes only one to two hours and is done laparoscopically, which is minimally invasive; this makes it an oft-recommended option for patients who are deemed too high risk for other bariatric surgeries.
Who is a candidate for Gastric Sleeve?
Gastric Sleeve is not intended for casual weight loss and a qualified, ethical surgeon won’t perform the procedure on someone who does not meet the criteria. The surgery is intended for people who have a BMI of 35 or greater; those with a BMI between 30 and 35 who have at least one obesity-related health condition like heart disease or uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes may also be considered.
In general, good candidates for Gastric Sleeve are also those who are at least 50 pounds overweight, who have a history of struggling with traditional weight loss methods, and are age 18 or older. Gastric Sleeve candidates are also expected to be in good mental health to be able to commit to their long-term health and manage the psychological impact along the way.
What to expect after Gastric Sleeve
No two people lose weight at exactly the same rate, but one thing we can say about Gastric Sleeve, as well as Stomach Stapling before it, is that the weight comes off fast. On average, patients lose as much as 33 percent of their excess weight within three months and 50 percent at the six-month mark. After one year, that number is 70 percent!
The five-year success rate, on average, shows that patients keep off more than half of the weight lost. The more diligent a patient is about eating right and exercising, the better their chances at long-term success. While the post-operative stomach from Gastric Sleeve is far less stretchable than what patients experienced after Stomach Stapling, it is still possible to stretch is out some, which would slow down weight loss. Following your doctor’s orders and maintaining a healthy eating and activity plan is key to staying on track. Your doctor will work closely with post-surgery to help you establish and maintain good habits.
Recovery from Gastric Sleeve
Gastric Sleeve is a minimally invasive procedure, which makes it much easier on the recovering patient than other bariatric surgeries—and also easier on today’s patient versus what they endured several decades ago with the Stomach Staple. You can expect to be in the hospital for two to three days and off work for one to three weeks. Full recovery is typically seen within four to six weeks. Post-operative patients are encouraged to take their time, especially with strenuous activities, so they don’t slow down their healing process. Typical side effects from Gastric Sleeve are minor and can include nausea and digestive issues; they should continue to subside as the body gets used to its new reality.
Any pain that is felt is considered manageable and can be treated with over the counter or medication, if needed. Expect to start with clear liquids and walking. Discussions about your transition to solid foods and additional exercise will be part of your follow-up appointments with the doctor; they are typically scheduled for two weeks after your release and three, six, and 12 months post-surgery.