Gastric Sleeve Surgery – Before and After!
One of the best ways to learn about gastric sleeve surgery is to use the experiences of those who’ve had it already. Reading their stories and comparing before and after pictures can be very inspiring. However, it’s also important to get expert advice on what happens to ensure your expectations are realistic.
Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Gastric sleeve surgery is intended for people with a significant amount of weight to lose. If you’re considering it then you are carrying lots of excess fat that you haven’t been able to shift with diet alone. You are at higher risk of health problems like cardiovascular disease and you may already be suffering from conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes due to your weight. Your weight could also be affecting your mood and confidence or causing problems in your everyday life, for example by limiting your mobility.
You may be a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery if you meet these eligibility criteria:
- BMI over 40
- BMI of at least 35 and an obesity-linked health condition like type 2 diabetes
- Fit enough to undergo the operation
- Committed to making permanent changes to your lifestyle
- Understand what the procedure involves and the risks of surgery
- Already tried alternatives, such as diet and exercise alone
Preparing for the Surgery
If you and your doctor agree that gastric sleeve surgery is right for you, there are some important things you’ll need to do to prepare for the procedure.
- Start eating a balanced diet to ensure your body is as healthy as possible and to prepare for your new lifestyle.
- If you smoke, you should give up before the procedure as it will affect the healing process.
- Arrange 2-3 weeks off work and make sure you have someone to help you after the operation. If you‘re a parent, it’s a good idea to arrange some childcare too.
- Get your house ready for recovery by stocking up on healthy foods, especially the liquid and soft foods you’ll need in the first weeks. It’s also a good idea to make sure you’ve got plenty of books, magazines and other things to keep you occupied.
- Pack your hospital bag with comfortable clothes, toiletries and other essentials.
You will need to stop eating the day before your operation. The doctor will tell you when you should stop, depending on the timing of the procedure. You won’t be able to eat or drink at all as it could cause serious complications during the operation.
After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
The surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic, so you won’t be aware of anything that’s going on. You will wake up feeling a bit sore and drowsy. You’ll be in a comfortable bed at the hospital, with nurses nearby if you have any questions or concerns.
You will spend the first couple of days recovering in the hospital. You should expect to feel tired and sore. The surgical incisions on your abdomen will be covered by dressings as they need to stay clean and dry while they heal. You won’t be able to eat for about a day, but you can then start on your liquid diet. The nurses will encourage you to get up and walk around a bit as soon as you are able.
When you go home, you should continue to rest as much as possible for the next couple of weeks. The dressings should come off in about a week, but you’ll still be able to see the scars clearly. You’ll probably still feel more tired than usual because you’re on a restricted diet. However, you can start introducing soft food after a couple of weeks. You should be able to start eating solids in about 4-6 weeks.
About 5% of patients will experience some sort of complications after gastric sleeve surgery. Your doctor will tell you what to watch out for so that you can get help right away if there are any problems. For example, you might notice some inflammation around the surgical wounds, which could be a sign of an infection that can be treated with antibiotics.
The Longer-Term Effects of Sleeve Gastrectomy
You can start to feel the effects of gastric sleeve surgery right after the operation. The strict liquid diet that you’ll be on during the first week means that you’ll start to lose weight right away. If you follow the doctor’s advice, your weight loss should continue until you reach your target. You’ll probably also notice some other changes after your gastric sleeve surgery.
- Diet and Lifestyle: You will be on a low calorie diet after the procedure, but it should be designed according to your doctor or nutritionist’s advice so that it contains all the right nutrients. You should also increase the amount of exercise you do after the procedure as it will help with your weight loss. These should be permanent changes in your lifestyle so that you never re-gain the weight.
- Weight Loss: Most people can expect to lose 50-60% of their excess weight within two years if they stick to the correct diet. The weight loss is fastest in the first 6 months, but will continue as long as you keep working towards your goal.
- Health: Losing weight can have a dramatic impact on your health. The risk of problems like heart disease will be reduced and you may notice an improvement in symptoms such as joint pain. Sleeve gastrectomy can be particularly effective for type 2 diabetes and in some cases it can make the symptoms go away completely.
- Dumping Syndrome: One less positive effect of gastric sleeve surgery is that you may feel sick if you eat something sweet. Dumping syndrome can be very unpleasant, but at least it discourages you from eating too much sugar.
- Acid Reflux: Reducing the size of your stomach can make acid reflux more likely, especially if you already suffered from it before the operation. Ask your doctor for advice on managing reflux.
- Social and Emotional Changes: Having the surgery and losing weight can have a big impact on how you feel and your relationships with other people. You might find yourself feeling happier and more confident, but it can also be tough to deal with the recovery process and stay committed to your new lifestyle.
How do you expect your life to change after gastric sleeve surgery?