Sleeve gastrectomy is a permanent weight loss surgery option that shrinks a patient’s stomach and helps them lose weight. In order to be fully prepared and get optimal results, it’s important to do the proper research on what to do before and after the procedure.
1. Change your diet. Because a gastric sleeve is such a serious procedure, it is a good idea to prepare the body for living this way. Approximately two weeks before surgery (this timing can change depending on your doctor/starting weight) you need to start an all-liquid diet, in order to shrink your liver and make surgery safer.
2. Change your grocery list. Making sure you can make protein-rich liquid meals for before and after your surgery; it can take a long time before you are able to eat solids. You’ll need a lot of clear soups and broths, skim milk, sugar-free clear jello, and Popsicles.
3. Stop smoking. Quit smoking up to a month before your surgery; it will ensure your post operative recovery is sped up and your risk of surgery-related complications will be reduced. If you do not quit smoking your doctor may refuse to perform the surgery altogether.
4. Ensure your wardrobe is suitable. This type of surgery will leave your body very tender. Loose clothing is a must and slip-on shoes can really help too. It’s also a good idea to ensure you have some “transition” clothing, which will fit you at various stages as you lose weight. You will lose weight rapidly in the beginning so it’s cost-effective to use old clothes that don’t fit right now or to buy some from a charity shop.
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 and make sure you have people around to help out during your healing process. You will need both mental and physical support throughout this journey. Your doctor may also encourage you to join a support group, either in person or online, such as RealSelf.
7. Arrange transportation and bring a pillow. Make sure you have transportation arranged for going home. You shouldn’t be driving that soon after your operation and it will be painful. Take a pillow for the ride home and place it over your abdomen. Holding it somewhat tightly will help stop the pain from going over uneven surfaces and bumps in the road.
8. Get prepared. Get prescriptions early if possible, make sure the house is cleaned, laundry is done, meals are cooked and frozen ahead of time, and things like over-the-counter medication and stool softeners have been purchased.
9. Know the facts. Make sure you find out from your surgeon what a gastric sleeve surgery entails so you know exactly what is about to happen. Talking in detail with your doctor can reduce fear and anxiety associated with the procedure.
10. Protein, protein, protein . You’ll need protein after surgery, so get used to it pre-op. Take the period before surgery to find out which protein powders you do and do not like. Find out which protein-rich foods you’ll be able to incorporate into your diet without adding too many extra calories and stock up your pantry!
1. Follow the diet stages set out by your doctor. If you try to eat solid foods too soon or begin to eat foods high in sugars and fats, you could risk harming yourself or damaging your stomach. You will certainly experience some uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
2. Do not go back to work until you are ready. The recovery time will vary, but it generally takes two weeks after after gastric sleeve surgery before a person is healed enough to work. You should also take on light duties only when you first return to work. Walking around is good exercise, but no heavy lifting.
3. Never miss your check-ups . Make sure you see your physician long into your recovery period to ensure you are healing correctly. It will also keep you on the right path with diet, exercise, and your weight loss goals.
4. 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. This will help your body strengthen and begin to cope with having less of a daily caloric intake while still remaining functional.
5. Continue to educate yourself. Find new recipes you can make so that food doesn’t become boring after your surgery. Your tastes will change, so try new things or even things you once disliked; you may love them now. Your body will be a great educator, you just need to learn to listen to it.
6. 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 during these times.
7. Follow your prescription . Do not try and wean yourself off of medication early. Be sure to follow your prescription and let your doctor know if you’re feeling any discomfort. If you have diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it may be that this surgery cures you. However, let your doctor make that decision.
8. 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.
9. Track your calories. Keeping your total calories at about 600-800 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 such as water, sugar-free juices, and unsweetened ice tea. Don’t drink any form of soda (even diet) — which can stretch your new pouch because of the gasses — and never drink alcohol after surgery.
These tips will help anyone who is preparing for, or recovering from, gastric sleeve surgery. They are not meant to supersede any advice your doctor gives you, but will push you in the right direction when starting the journey to a healthier you.