Gastric stapling, also referred to as stomach stapling, is a surgical procedure where the size of the stomach is reduced in order to restrict food intake. This is an example of a restrictive weight loss surgery, as it will limit the amount of food the patient can consume at a meal and will also tend to reduce appetite. This procedure is recommended for extremely overweight patients who cannot control their weight on their own, and it is a major and invasive abdominal surgery.
A general surgeon or gastrointestinal specialist can perform a gastric stapling procedure, and it is also offered by bariatric surgeons, physicians who specialize in procedures related to weight loss. The patient will be admitted to the hospital for the surgery and must be under general anesthesia for the surgery. The surgeon enters the patient's abdomen and places a series of staples to turn the upper part of the stomach into a small pouch, reducing the size and capacity of the stomach.
Risks associated with a gastric stapling procedure can be serious. Anesthesia is more dangerous for overweight patients, and it is possible to have an adverse reaction to anesthesia during the procedure. In addition, infections can develop at or around the surgical site, and there is also a risk of rupture if a patient eats or drinks too much. If the staples rupture, the patient will need emergency surgery to address the situation.
After gastric stapling, patients are often provided with nutritional counseling to help them plan their meals. Patients must eat a number of small meals distributed throughout the day to ensure they get proper nutrition without straining their stomachs. They are also usually advised to exercise to help with weight loss and physical fitness. A nutritionist can work with the patient in the weeks and months after surgery to develop an appropriate meal plan for weight loss and health.
Extremely heavy patients who lose weight after bariatric surgery like gastric stapling may opt to pursue surgery once they are close to their goal weight to remove excess skin. While skin is highly elastic, drastic weight loss can outstrip the skin's ability to recover, and the patient may develop folds of skin. In addition to being unsightly, skin folds can create an opportunity for bacterial and fungal growth and may put the patient at risk of infection. A cosmetic surgeon can remove the skin and may offer a tummy tuck or similar procedure to make the patient's skin more taut.