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How Stomach Stapling Works

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 25 Oct 2010 | comments*Discuss
Stomach Stapling Nutritional

Stomach stapling is no longer a new kind of surgery although the concept continues to be refined. For people who have struggled with obesity and repeated but unsuccessful attempts to lose weight, stomach stapling represents a 'last resort' to help them lose weight.

What Does Stomach Stapling do Exactly?

Stomach stapling is a restrictive operation in that it reduces the size of the stomach. Once your stomach is reduced in size, you will find that when you eat, you start to feel full a lot sooner than you normally would prior to the surgery. Ultimately, what this means is that your lifestyle must now include eating significantly smaller portions of food.

What Happens During Stomach Stapling?

Stomach stapling is technically known as vertical banded gastroplasty. To perform the surgery, a surgeon would initially make an incision in the patient's abdomen. Then, a little pouch is created around the top of the stomach by using surgical staples and a band.

The pouch is still connected to the rest of the stomach through a small opening that facilitates the movement of partially broken down food to flow to the remainder of the stomach. After, food still travels to the intestines.

This much smaller pouch can mean a patient is only able to consume half a cup to a cup of food before they will feel uncomfortably full. However, the stomach can eventually stretch and a patient might start to gain weight again.

Risks of Stomach Stapling

Stomach stapling results in a complete overhaul of your previous lifestyle and eating habits. After the surgery, you will need to chew food carefully and thoroughly and stop as soon as you feel full. Mentally, this can be quite an adjustment when you were previously used to eating much more food.

Nausea From Overeating

If you ate beyond fullness or didn't chew food enough, you could feel pain or nausea as well as even vomiting in more severe cases. If you choose very high calorie fluids, this could help you 'bypass' the benefits of a smaller stomach and you would have more difficulty losing weight.

A Stretched Stomach

Those who continue their attempts to overeat, resulting in a stretched stomach, will simply find that they are not losing weight. Or, they may find that after the initial weight loss following surgery, they begin to gain back the weight they lost.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Due to the smaller size of the stomach and reduced food consumption, it can be more of a challenge to eat a varied diet that is sufficient in calories and nutrients to meet good health. Many people who undergo the surgery will receive nutritional counselling and vitamin and mineral therapy to help ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need.

Benefits of Stomach Stapling

The benefits of stomach stapling include the obvious one – dramatic weight loss. Other benefits relate to the weight loss, such as a reduced risk of obesity-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Is it Right For Me?

Stomach stapling is not for everyone nor should it ever be used as the first approach for weight loss. It is, however, worth considering if you have been unsuccessful for years in your attempts to lose weight and your health is in jeopardy from your obesity.

Your doctor will speak to you about whether stomach stapling is the right choice for you to lose weight. While it does carry a number of risks, the benefits will outweigh the risks for some patients and it can provide the help they need to lose weight and improve their health.

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