Stomach stapling or gastric stapling is an older type of bariatric surgery. Currently, it is not as popular since newer, more advanced techniques are available.

It is a restrictive surgery that aims to reduce the size of the stomach. Vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) is a modification of the simple stapling procedure but is also not a popular choice.

Gastric sleeves and bypasses have largely replaced stomach stapling and VBG. These more advanced surgeries produce better results.

This article will review stomach stapling and the new procedures that have replaced it, including its side effects and cost.

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Stomach stapling is a type of bariatric procedure that helps people lose weight by making the stomach smaller, which limits the amount of food a person can eat. It is a restrictive surgery.

A doctor uses surgical staples to separate the stomach into two parts: a “new” small section — or pouch — and a larger bottom section. The procedure also leaves a small opening for food to pass from the top pouch to the lower one.

Vertical banded gastroplasty (VBG) came a little later than the original stomach stapling procedure. With VBG, a surgeon places a band around the small pouch after stapling. The aim is to allow people to feel “full” after small meals.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, VBG was a common surgical procedure for weight loss. Now, it is less popular, and other surgeries are more popular. These may include:

  • gastric bypass
  • gastric band
  • sleeve gastrectomy

Other techniques do exist, and doctors may recommend those based on the person’s circumstances.

Generally, stomach stapling resulted in poor long-term weight loss. Long-term studies have also shown that VBG could lead to regaining weight or exacerbate severe heartburn.

Newer bariatric surgeries tend to have better outcomes. It is worth noting that comprehensive medical and psychological evaluation and input from multidisciplinary specialists precede bariatric surgery today. Also, there is typically a more structured follow-up after the surgery. These factors, at least partially, account for the improved outcomes.

Other surgeries have largely replaced stomach stapling and include:

Gastric bypass

Newer techniques, such as gastric bypass, specifically Roux-en-Y bypass (RYGBP), are more effective than VBG.

The first step is to remove parts of the stomach and create a pouch. The pouch is then attached to the small intestine, so food bypasses the stomach.

This is a restrictive and malabsorptive surgery, meaning it reduces portion sizes and limits food absorption.

Learn more about gastric bypass.

Gastric sleeve

During a gastric sleeve, the surgeon removes about 80% of the stomach. The new stomach holds less liquid and food, meaning a person has to reduce the amount of food they consume.

This is a simple, restrictive surgery. Gastric sleeve surgery is permanent.

Learn more about gastric sleeve surgery.

Adjustable gastric band

This type of surgery involves placing a silicone band around the top part of the stomach. It aims to reduce the amount of food a person can consume.

It has a similar mechanism to stomach stapling, but its use has decreased in the past decade.

Learn more about how gastric bands work.

Generally, bariatric surgeries — especially newer types — are safe. They can help people reach the following goals:

  • losing a significant portion of their excess body weight
  • improving their health
  • reducing the risk of developing serious obesity-related conditions

Still, as with all medical procedures, even with newer bariatric surgeries, there is a risk of side effects. These may include:

After undergoing surgery, people need time to rest and recover. People may need to spend 1 to 3 days in the hospital after surgery before returning home.


It typically takes 4 to 6 weeks before a person can return to engaging in their daily activities.

After surgery, people typically need to follow a special liquid diet and slowly start reintegrating more solid foods after a month. This may vary from person to person.

However, the typical diet plan can include:

TimeDiet recommendations
the first few days after surgerywater and thin soups
first 4 weeksrunny food, such as yogurt or pureed food
weeks 4 to 6soft food, such as mashed potatoes
week 6 onwardgradual return to a balanced and healthy diet

Doctors may recommend adding vitamin and mineral supplements to the diet to help prevent any deficiencies. Avoiding alcohol during recovery may also be beneficial.

People who are post-surgery should expect to attend follow-up appointments every few months for the first year and at least once a year afterward to check their recovery and general health.

The appointments may involve:

  • general physical health checks
  • blood tests to check vitamin and mineral levels
  • advice on diet and physical exercise
  • emotional support

Sometimes, follow-up interventions may be necessary.

A person should consider the cost of surgery. Bariatric surgery is expensive, ranging from $15,000 to more than $25,000.

For some people, medical insurance may cover costs. However, a person must meet specific criteria to ensure coverage, which includes:

  • being unable to lose weight with exercise, diet, or other medications
  • having a body mass index (BMI) over 40
  • having a BMI over 35 with at least one obesity-related condition, such as:
    • high blood pressure
    • high cholesterol
    • obstructive sleep apnea
    • type 2 diabetes

Stomach stapling is an older type of bariatric surgery. It is no longer popular since new types are available, and some of these provide better outcomes with fewer complications.

The gastric bypass and sleeve are the newer, more advanced surgeries that can help people reduce excess weight. While they are safer, some side effects can still occur. These include heartburn, infection, hemorrhage, and other, more serious effects.

Recovery from bariatric surgery can take 6 weeks, which may vary according to the surgery type and the procedure itself.