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What Is Vertical Sleeve Surgery?

Vertical sleeve surgery is not reversible, but may save the life of an extremely obese person.
Article Details
  • Written By: Valerie Goldberg
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 10 July 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Vertical sleeve surgery is an intense weight loss surgery that removes more than 80 percent of the stomach. This type of weight loss surgery is not reversible and usually is done only on patients who are too overweight to qualify for other types of weight loss procedures. During the procedure, the surgeon will turn a small portion of the patient's original stomach into a pouch that can hold only half a cup (118.3 ml) of food or less at a time.

Patients who have vertical sleeve surgery need to be prepared to make serious changes in their eating habits. People who have this surgery will not be able to drink liquids while eating. Food and drink intake must be done at separate times. Patients must also stick to the small food portion amounts that their doctors recommend. Trying to eat extra food at one sitting might result in the pouch stretching or patients feeling sick to their stomach.

A person who needs to undergo vertical sleeve surgery will have it done under anesthesia in a hospital. This surgery typically is performed laparoscopically so that there will be minimal scarring. Patients usually can leave the hospital after a day but might be instructed to take it easy for as long as two weeks. A doctor will give the patient a liquid diet to follow for a few days after surgery. The person will slowly work his or her way up to eating solid food again.

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This procedure can save the life of an obese individual. Many vertical sleeve surgery patients lose 60 percent of their extra weight in the first two years following surgery. A lot of type II diabetes patients are able to get their conditions under control after losing weight from this surgery. Vertical sleeve surgery is permanent, so patients will never have to go in for adjustments, which are a routine part of some other types of weight loss surgery.

There are some disadvantages and risks associated with vertical sleeve surgery, as there are with any type of surgery. Many insurance companies do not cover vertical sleeve surgery, so it is important for a patient to discuss the procedure with an insurance agent before committing to this surgery. Some patients might struggle to lose weight because although the stomach is very small, empty calories from items such as milkshakes and hard candy still can be absorbed, so a patient must be mentally prepared to limit the intake of these treats. Medical complications including bowel obstruction and deep vein thrombophlebitis are possible in rare cases. Patients should discuss these risks with their doctors.

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