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Vertical sleeve gastrectomy: A gentler approach to weight loss surgery

Bariatric surgery can be lifesaving for patients who struggle with obesity. A relatively new option is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a minimally-invasive surgery that both shrinks the stomach and reduces the body’s “hunger hormone.”

Restricting stomach size and food intake

During the procedure, 75 percent of the stomach is removed, leaving the remaining stomach shaped like a narrow sleeve or tube. The stomach normally stretches each time a person eats, so to curb overeating, that part of the stomach is removed during a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. 

“We leave the patient with a very narrow stomach that’s inelastic,” says Kevin McGill, M.D., a general and bariatric surgeon at Piedmont.

Reducing the “hunger hormone”

Another benefit to patients is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy removes the portion of the stomach that produces ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

“Now, not only can you not eat a lot, but your brain is okay with that,” explains Dr. McGill. “You don’t have those same satiety factors floating around.”

Gastric bypass versus vertical sleeve gastrectomy

“What we like about this operation is it’s not quite as [complex] as a gastric bypass,” he says.

Both vertical sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass procedures reduce the size of the stomach and limit food intake, but gastric bypass surgery also removes parts of the intestines. This reduces the calories and nutrients the body absorbs, but it can also lead to malnutrition in some patients.

Robotic surgery versus laparoscopic weight loss surgery

The robotic version of the surgery is similar to the laparoscopic method, says Dr. McGill, but the robotic instrument allows surgeons to see three-dimensionally and have an increased range of hand motion as well as increased depth perception.

Piedmont: Leaders in weight loss surgery

“At Piedmont, we’ve been very privileged to be on the leading edge of bariatric surgery,” he says. “We were one of the first few institutions in the state to introduce the sleeve gastrectomy and we were one of the first few to start doing robotic surgery for bariatrics.”

Piedmont bariatric surgeons work closely with patients through their weight loss journeys, from pre-surgery appointments to post-operative care.

“We feel very tied to these patients – their successes and their struggles,” he says.  

Learn more about weight loss surgery at Piedmont.

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