The obese individual’s normal stomach has the ability to hold great amounts of food, about 2000-3000 milliliters (2-3 quarts) in capacity. This allows a higher caloric intake than can be expended in energy each day. The extra calories not burned by the body are stored as fat.
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery was developed to counteract this process. This operation divides the stomach to create a “sleeve” along the inner curve of the stomach that holds approximately 60 milliliters (two to three ounces). This limits the amount of food that can be eaten (leaving the patient feeling full and satisfied on very little food). In addition, the part of the stomach that is removed is where the hormone that causes hunger (Ghrelin) is produced. Consequently, the caloric intake and the feeling of hunger are reduced, and weight loss will usually follow.
On average, patients will lose about two-thirds of their excess weight in one year. Weight loss will continue during the second year at a slower rate.
The vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedure consists of separating the stomach into two sections using parallel rows of titanium staples. The larger portion of the stomach is removed and discarded. The remaining portion of the stomach (the “sleeve”) is long and narrow and holds about 3 ounces. The staples remain fixed and do not migrate. The sleeve is made so small because it will eventually stretch somewhat. By making it very small at first, the final size will still be quite restrictive.
The result is that patients must eat proper amounts of proper foods at proper intervals and at the proper speed. In combination with exercise, psychological support and nutritional counseling, the results can be amazing. It is not unusual for severely obese patients to lose 65-75% of their excess weight in the first year following surgery.