Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy—Open
(Sleeve Gastrectomy—Open; VSG—Open)
Vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) is surgery to decrease the structure and size of your stomach. This restricts the amount of food you are able to consume.
This surgery involves re-shaping the stomach to reduce the amount of food it can hold.
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Reasons for Procedure
- BMI greater than 40
- BMI 35-39.9 and a life-threatening condition or severe physical limitations that affect employment, movement, and family life
If lifestyle changes are made, the benefits of VSG include:
- Weight reduction
- Improvement in obesity-related conditions
- Improved movement and stamina
- Enhanced mood and self-esteem
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
- Stitches or staples may loosen
- Pouch stretches or leaks
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Heart attack
- Blood clots
- Nausea, vomiting
Long-term complications include vomiting and gallstones.
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications such as:
- Chronic disease such as diabetes
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Each bariatric surgery program has specific requirements. Your program will likely include the following:
- Physical exam and review of medical history
- Blood test and other tests to check your health
- Meetings with a registered dietitian
- Mental health test and counseling
Prior to the procedure:
- Talk to your doctor about your medications, herbs, and dietary supplements. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
- You may be given antibiotics.
- You may be given laxatives or an enema.
- Arrange for a ride to and from the hospital.
- The night before, eat a light meal. Do not eat or drink anything after midnight.
General anesthesia will be given through an IV. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the surgery.
Description of the Procedure
An 8-10 inch incision will be made to open the abdomen. Surgical staples will divide the stomach vertically. The new stomach will be the shape of a slim banana. The rest of the stomach will be removed. Your new stomach can hold 50-150 mL (milliliters) of food—about 10% of what a normal adult stomach can hold.
Staples or stitches will be used to close the incision.
Immediately After Procedure
The breathing tube and catheter will be removed.
How Long Will It Take?
About 2 hours
How Much Will It Hurt?
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Pain and discomfort after the procedure can be managed with medications.
Average Hospital Stay
The usual length of stay is 4-6 days. If there are any problems, you will need to stay longer.
At the Hospital
You can expect the following after the procedure:
- A small thin tube with a camera will be used to look down your throat and into your stomach to check for problems.
- You will receive nutrition through an IV at first, but slowly start eating again.
- Your bowels will work more slowly than usual. Chewing gum may help speed the process of your bowel function returning to normal.
While in the hospital, you may be asked to:
- Use a device called an incentive spirometer to prevent breathing problems
- Wear elastic surgical stockings or boots to promote blood flow in your legs
- Get up and walk daily
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and healthcare providers to do the same
- Reminding your healthcare providers to wear gloves or masks
- Not allowing others to touch your incision
You will need to practice lifelong healthy eating and exercising habits. After your surgery:
- Do not lift anything heavy for at least 2 weeks.
- You may have emotional changes after this surgery. Your doctor may refer you to a therapist.
- You will meet regularly with your healthcare team for monitoring and support.
For good nutrition:
- Eat a clear liquid diet for about 1 week or as advised by your doctor.
- You will begin with 4-6 small meals per day. A meal is 2 ounces of food.
- Progress from soft, pureed foods to regular foods.
- Solid food must be well-chewed.
- Get enough protein.
- Do not eat too much or too quickly.
- Avoid high-calorie foods.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking fluids before or after meals.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the incision site
- Persistent cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Worsening abdominal pain
- Blood in the stool
- Pain, burning, urgency or frequency of urination, or persistent bleeding in the urine
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
- New or unexpected symptoms
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Weight Loss Surgery
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3/23/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905418/Prevention-and-management-of-postoperative-ileus: Short V, Herbert G, Perry R, et al. Chewing gum for postoperative recovery of gastrointestinal function. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(2):CD006506.
Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD Last Updated: 3/23/2015