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Your Complete Guide to Gastric Sleeve Recovery

Before and After BMI

July 1, 2023

Your Complete Guide to Gastric Sleeve Recovery

To be more prepared for what to expect after gastric sleeve recovery, use this guide to commit to a healthier lifestyle while you manage the physical and psychological effects of weight loss.

Why is it Important to Prepare for Gastric Sleeve Recovery?

After you recover from your bariatric surgery, you may feel as though you’ve reached the ending point, but this is really the beginning of lifelong changes in your eating habits and other health-related habits. Preparing for these life changes ahead of time can help you adjust more quickly to your new reality. After all, if you know what to expect, you’ll be better equipped to undertake what you need to do to lose weight and take care of your mind and body after your surgery.

Diagram of person from waist up showing an illustration of a sleeve gastrectomy weight loss surgery.

Gastric Sleeve Recovery Process

How Painful is Gastric Sleeve Recovery?

Undergoing gastric sleeve surgery can be a life-changing decision. For many prospective patients, a common question is: How painful is the recovery process? Fortunately, at BMI of Texas, we specialize in minimally invasive bariatric surgery techniques that are designed to reduce discomfort and enhance recovery.

After the gastric sleeve surgery, patients may experience mild to moderate discomfort. During this period, your vital signs (including your pulse, blood pressure, and respiration) will be monitored, and you’ll be checked to ensure that you’re not experiencing any post-surgery complications. This pain is typically manageable with medication and gradually decreases over the days following the surgery.

It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience is unique and pain tolerance varies from person to person. However, our experts at BMI of Texas strive to make the post-operative phase as comfortable as possible.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from Gastric Sleeve?

Recovery time from gastric sleeve surgery varies depending on several factors, including individual health conditions and the specific surgical approach. With the advanced, minimally invasive techniques employed by BMI of Texas, most patients are ready to return home the same day of surgery, often feeling empowered and excited about their journey toward improved health. If you have medical problems that require observation such as severe diabetes or a cardiac issue, you might need to spend a night or two in the hospital. Regardless, you will be able to walk right away within hours or your surgery. After you’re discharged, don’t hesitate to call your doctor’s office if you have any questions or concerns. After you have returned home, you will take pain medication for two to three days and then switch to Tylenol. Most patients are able to return back to work in a week or sooner.

In general, it takes most patients one to two months after surgery to adapt fully to their new lifestyle and dietary habits. However, recovery is a journey that continues well beyond this initial period as individuals experience the long-term benefits of their decision to undergo gastric bypass or sleeve surgery.

At BMI of Texas, we pride ourselves on providing personalized care and support throughout this journey, ensuring a smooth recovery and an empowering transition toward improved health and wellness.

Short-term Recovery from Gastric Sleeve Surgery

The following are some important elements related to what happens the first week after gastric sleeve, short-term recovery from bariatric, as well as tips to reduce recovery time.

Ask for Assistance if you Need it

While unlikely to be prolonged, it may be difficult to handle your responsibilities around the house in the immediate aftermath of your surgery, so ask for assistance from friends or relatives if you need it.

Diet and Nutrition Guidelines

During the first six weeks after surgery, your staple lines will be all that’s holding your new sleeve together, so it’s important to follow your eating plan and give these staple lines a chance to properly heal.

You’ll drink clear liquids for the first day after surgery and will then probably be placed on a liquid-only diet for the first week or so. After that, you’ll transition to soft pureed foods and then regular food. It’s very important that you don’t transition to solid foods too soon, as this could damage your stomach and lead to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

For the first two weeks post-op, you will be on a liquid diet but you won’t really be hungry. As your body adjusts to the reduced number of calories while you recover from your surgery, you may feel more tired than usual, but don’t worry: Once you begin to gradually eat more calories, you’ll feel your energy returning.

Physical Activity Recommendations

Walking as soon as possible after surgery will help prevent deep vein thrombosis, which is a potentially dangerous condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body. Your bariatric surgeon may even encourage you to walk as soon as a few hours after surgery.

That said, give yourself time to recover, and don’t do too much too soon. Remember, you may find that you become tired more quickly than usual. Although you can gradually increase your amount of cardiovascular exercise, you should wait at least four weeks after surgery before you do any weight-lifting or other forms of extremely strenuous activity.

Short-term Psychological Effects

You should expect to potentially experience some mood fluctuations as your body adjusts to fewer calories. Keep in mind that this is a common psychological side effect that will likely pass fairly quickly.

Close-up of person pouring water from a pitcher into a drinking glass on a table.

Long-term Recovery from Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Getting gastric sleeve surgery affects not only what you eat but also your eating habits for the rest of your life. It is important for you to understand that while undergoing surgery is a great starting point, you’ll also need to make other changes to get – and stay – as healthy as possible.

The following tips will help you prepare for and navigate your post-surgery life:

Diet and Nutrition Guidelines

You’ll have to significantly change your eating habits after your surgery, which will likely be a large adjustment. Here’s a short list of the changes you can expect:

  • Eat very slowly
  • Eat only small quantities of food at a time, and keep in mind that your new stomach is much smaller
  • Chew thoroughly and don’t swallow your food until after you have thoroughly chewed it to a mashed consistency
  • Don’t eat and drink at the same time, as this can cause food to move through your new stomach too quickly; instead, drink a beverage about 30 minutes before you eat a meal

Physical Activity Recommendations

When your bariatric surgeon gives you the OK, you should start a post-surgery exercise program. Not only will this be an important part of keeping off the weight you lose, it will also help lower your overall percentage of body fat. Moreover, getting active will facilitate your adjustment to life after surgery and increase your energy.

Take Vitamins and Supplements

Although your body will still absorb nutrients after your surgery, it will be getting far fewer nutrients than before – after all, you’ll be eating substantially less food. Your doctor will let you know exactly what vitamins and supplements you should take, but you’ll most likely need an array of multivitamins as well as additional doses of B vitamins.

Dietician discussing plan with an overweight woman who recently had gastric sleeve surgery.

Meet with a Dietitian

As you’ll be taking in less food, it’s even more important to make healthy choices that lead to you receiving as many food-based nutrients as possible. A dietitian can help you devise and maintain a healthy eating plan over time.

Your doctor will let you know how many calories and what type you should be getting. Note that eating foods or drinking beverages that are high in calories, sugar, or fat should be avoided.

Follow-up Appointments

You’ll need to set and keep follow-up appointments with your doctor to ensure you’re recovering well and progressing as you should after your surgery. During these appointments, you can ask questions and discuss concerns about your diet, exercise, weight loss, and psychological recovery. Likewise, your doctor can ascertain that you’re on the right track and suggest any necessary adjustments to reduce recovery time.

Prepare for Longer-term Psychological Effects of Gastric Sleeve Surgery

You obviously expect your body to change after gastric sleeve surgery, but don’t forget about the psychological side of the equation. First off, you may find that you crave unhealthy foods, which can be stressful. Joining a support group for gastric sleeve patients will help you adjust to this and other changes you may be experiencing, and finding a therapist with experience in counseling weight loss patients may be valuable as well.

In addition, be aware of the fact that some of the activities you previously enjoyed with friends may no longer be realistic for you post-surgery. You’ll still be able to socialize, but you’ll need to do it in a healthier way. For example, if you’re used to going out to lunch with friends or having drinks with your colleagues after work, why not find some new and more physical activities to share? Try starting a walking group at lunch or ask your friends to meet for a bike ride or a hike instead of post-work dinner and drinks. Chances are good that they’ll welcome the chance to pick up some healthy habits themselves!

While you may experience some positive psychological effects as you lose weight and assume a greater role in taking care of yourself and maintaining your weight loss, you may also encounter feelings of depression. Keep in mind that although getting gastric sleeve surgery can certainly prompt dramatic life changes in some respects, it won’t solve every single one of your problems, and it’s unrealistic to assume that you won’t experience some periods of feeling down or having low self-esteem.

In addition, your friends and family may react to you differently as you lose weight, and some may even try to sabotage your weight-loss efforts. It can be difficult to adjust to this type of reaction, which is yet another reason why post-surgery counseling and joining a support group can be so helpful.

Are you Ready to Begin Your Journey?

For more information about gastric sleeve surgery for weight loss, contact BMI of Texas today.