10 Tips For Before and After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Last updated: 2 months ago
Sleeve gastrectomy is a permanent weight loss surgery option that shrinks your stomach to help you lose weight. It’s a less invasive procedure compared to gastric bypass surgery as it doesn’t involve a reconstruction of your intestinal tract.
Deciding whether gastric sleeve surgery is right for you is a detailed process. It could involve multiple consultations, a diet plan, and possibly even a psychological exam. We relied on the expertise of RealSelf doctors and the experience of RealSelf members to provide some insight to help you in your process, before and after surgery.
1. Change your diet.
A gastric sleeve is a serious procedure, and one you should prepare your body for. Approximately two weeks before surgery (timing can change depending on your doctor and your individual needs), you likely need to start an all-liquid diet. This is to shrink your liver and make surgery safer.
“All surgeons are different and all patients are different,” Alabama bariatric surgeon Dr. Lee Schmitt said in a RealSelf Q&A. “Some patients may need to be on a two week liquid diet pre-operatively. My routine is a high protein liquid diet one week prior to surgery.”
2. Change your grocery list.
Make sure you have the ingredients to make protein-rich liquid meals before and after surgery. You'll need a lot of clear soups and broths, skim milk, and sugar-free, clear Jell-O.
3. Ensure your wardrobe is suitable.
You will likely experience some soreness after surgery. Loose clothing is a must and slip-on shoes can really help, too. It's also a good idea to have some "transition" clothing to fit you at various stages of your weight loss.
4. Stop smoking.
Quit smoking at least a month before surgery. Doing so speeds up your post-operative recovery and reduces risk of surgery-related complications. Your doctor may refuse to perform the surgery altogether if you still smoke.
“The complication and leak rates are much higher in patients that smoke because you do not heal well,” New York bariatric surgeon Dr. Shawn Garber said in a RealSelf Q&A. “We check patients at the hospital with a blood test for smoking and if it comes back positive we cancel the surgery.”
5. Prepare your hospital bag.
Gastric sleeve surgery requires an overnight hospital stay, so pack anything you think you may need to be comfortable.
6. Prepare your support group.
It's important to educate your friends and family to make sure you have people around to help out during your recovery. You will need both mental and physical support throughout this journey. Your doctor may also encourage you to join a support group.
7. Complete any requirements for insurance coverage or arrange financing.
Depending on your insurance plan and specific needs, your surgery may or may not be covered by insurance. There are typically a few factors involved, including your body mass index and any related health issues. Make sure all of your paperwork is completed and approved so you don’t end up with an unexpected bill.
Like many people interested in the procedure, RealSelf member lale2010 needed to complete a diet plan and physiological evaluation before coverage was approved.
8. Prepare to make your everyday life easier.
Get prescriptions early if possible, make sure the house is cleaned, laundry is done, meals are cooked and frozen ahead of time. You should should buy things like over-the-counter medication and stool softeners prior to surgery.
9. Know the facts.
Make sure you find out from your surgeon what your gastric sleeve surgery entails. Talking in detail with your doctor can reduce fear and anxiety associated with the procedure. It can also help produce the best results. There should be no doubt or lingering concerns heading into surgery. You should know everything you need to do and everything that will be done.
10. Protein, protein, protein.
You'll need to eat a lot of protein after surgery. Take the period before surgery to find out which protein powders you like. Find some protein-rich foods you'll be able to incorporate into your diet without adding too many extra calories.
“You need 65 to 80 grams of protein daily depending on your size,” Florida bariatric surgeon Dr. Wiljon Beltre said in a RealSelf Q&A. “The best source of proteins are protein shakes, meats, chicken, legumes (beans), peanut butter.”
1. Follow the diet your doctor sets for you.
If you try to eat solid foods too soon or eat food high in sugars and fats, you could risk harming yourself or damaging your stomach. Doing so could result in side effects including nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
2. Do not go back to work until you are ready.
Your recovery time will vary, but it generally takes at least two weeks before people are ready to return to work after surgery. You should also take on only light duties when you first return to work. Walking around is good exercise, but do not do any heavy lifting.
3. Exercise when you can.
It may take some time before you can exercise fully, but it is important to strengthen your muscles and get back to walking as soon as possible. Just don’t push it too hard, too soon. Doing so can increase the chance of developing a hernia.
“They should do a lot of walking initially after surgery and then can start cardio exercises,” Dr. Garber said in a RealSelf Q&A. “You should not do any exercise or weight lifting until about four weeks after surgery to decrease the chance of developing a hernia in your wound.”
4. Never miss your check-ups.
Make sure to schedule follow up appointments with your doctor to ensure you are recovering well. Doing so will also keep you on the right path with diet, exercise, and your weight loss goals.
5. Continue to educate yourself.
Find new recipes so food doesn’t become boring after surgery. It’s important to stick to your diet plan. Staying proactive so food doesn’t become stale or boring will help you avoid turning to foods you shouldn’t eat.
6. Take multivitamins regularly.
Before you get into a routine, it can be tough to get all of the nutrition you need from food alone. Take multivitamins to ensure you are getting the right nutrients. Your doctor will be able to specify which particular vitamins you need. This should be a lifelong habit that you form, so start early.
“After weight loss surgery, patients take in significantly less food so they really need to make sure they are taking taking their vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent deficiencies,” Texas bariatric surgeon Dr. Lloyd Stegemann said in a RealSelf Q&A.
7. Know when to ask for help
During the initial recovery phase it can be difficult to move and get things done. Make sure you get plenty of rest and have a good support network to help you ease back into normal life.
8. Follow your prescription.
Do not try and wean yourself off medication early. Be sure to follow your prescription, and let your doctor know if you're feeling any discomfort.
9. Track calories.
Keeping your total calories at roughly 600 to 800 per day will ensure your weight loss is a success. Make sure you aren’t ingesting foods which are high in calories, sugar, or fat. Always make sure you speak to your doctor about how many calories you need each day. They'll know you and your body and will give you a specific target catered to your particular needs.
10. Don't drink your calories.
Only drink low-calorie drinks like water, sugar-free juices, and unsweetened ice tea. You’ll need to limit your overall calories as part of the weight loss program. Instead of consuming calories on drinks that provide only empty calories, use your calories to eat proteins that will keep you feeling full and help recovery.
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