A vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) is a surgical weight loss procedure in which up to 85% of the stomach is removed and the remaining small percentage is then reshaped to resemble a sleeve. The surgery induces weight loss in two ways. First of all, the person can’t eat half as much as he or she could previously. The second reason that this surgery helps a person to lose weight is because according to Thomas H. Magnuson, M.D.,an associate professor of surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and chief of general surgery at the Johns Hopkins Bay View Medical Center, when the stomach is reshaped into a sleeve, it no longer produces large amounts of ghrelin, the main hormone that triggers hunger. Therefore the person experiences a lot less hunger, resulting in weight loss.
The VSG is attractive to many people who are considering bariatric surgery because it isn’t as risky of a surgery for super morbidly obese individuals and those with certain health issues. The VSG also doesn’t require that a foreign body remain inside the body, nor does it require that the intestines be bypassed, therefore reducing the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. This particular weight loss surgery is also quick and easy, only taking a couple hours to perform, and the patient usually only requires a one-night hospital stay.
Surgeon’s only began performing the VSG about ten years ago as opposed to thirty years ago for the gastric bypass and approximately twenty years for the duodenal switch. Due to this fact, and despite the fact that the VSG is actually the first part of the duodenal switch, many insurance companies and even some physicians consider the VSG to be experimental. One reason why it’s considered by some to be experimental is because ten years isn’t considered long enough to determine if the VSG will enable a person to sustain their weight loss long-term. Many fear that the remaining stomach will slowly stretch, eventually allowing the person to consume larger and larger amounts of food, resulting in weight regain.
According to doctors Paul T. Cirangle and Gregg H. Jossart of Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco, who have been performing the VSG on patients since 1999, “patients are just as successful long-term with the VSG as they are with the gastric bypass”. Of course there are some patients who simply don’t follow the proper protocol and subsequently regain their weight, but for those who eat right and exercise, the VSG can be a permanent, life-changing surgery.
Despite what some physicians and insurance companies many think, the VSG has proven itself to be a worthwhile stand alone surgical weight loss procedure that can not only produce just as much weight loss as the gastric bypass, but with vigilance, determination and hard work, someone choosing to have a VSG over the other available surgeries can keep the weight off long-term. The same factors apply when it comes to keeping the weight off following weight loss surgery in general, whether a person has had the gastric bypass, VSG or some other surgery: if diet and exercise aren’t adhered to long-term, the person will regain the weight. Weight loss surgery is a tool that so many morbidly obese individuals need in order to succeed long-term at weight loss, but it is by no means going to be successful if the person isn’t willing to comply with certain rules.