Stomach stapling, known in the medical field as vertical banded gastroplasty surgery, is a surgical procedure for those who are at significant health risk because of obesity. This is usually defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of at least 35 or 40. For a man, this would mean being approximately 100 pounds (45 kg) overweight, or about 80 pounds (36 kg) overweight for a woman. Operations like stomach stapling are usually considered to be a last resort, because of the risks they involve and the implications they carry for the rest of the patient's life.
When stomach stapling is performed, an incision is made in the abdomen, where a plastic band and surgical staples are used to create a small pocket or pouch in the tissue of the stomach. This area is not entirely closed off from the rest of the stomach, but rather there is a small hole, measuring about 0.25 inches (0.6 cm), through which food can pass to the rest of the stomach, and from there to the intestines. This pouch is small enough that after the surgery, the person will only be able to eat about 1 cup (230 ml) of food before feeling uncomfortably full.
Sometimes, stomach stapling can be coupled with another type of procedure, in which food is diverted past a large portion of the small intestine, preventing many nutrients from being absorbed. This translates into accelerated weight loss. In any case, a person who has a stomach stapling operation performed will always need to take nutritional supplements such as multivitamins thereafter, due to his body's decreased ability to take nutrients from food.
After any type of weight loss surgery, drastic changes will have to be incorporated into the person's routine and lifestyle. Frequent exercise will be one of these, as well as deliberately changing eating habits, such as avoiding fatty or sugary foods. A person's weight loss will likely only reach its maximum level between one and two years after the surgery, meaning that stomach stapling is not a quick fix. Most people also end up putting significant weight back on, as well.
Postoperative complications are not altogether uncommon after a stomach stapling. Between 10 and 20 percent of patients will need additional surgery to correct problems. In some rare cases, gastric juices can leak out of the stomach, into the rest of the abdomen. This is considered a medical emergency and needs to be corrected surgically as well.