Life After Sleeve Gastrectomy: What to Expect
Gastric sleeve surgery, or sleeve gastrectomy, provides long-term weight loss results for many patients; in fact, one study found that five years after their surgeries, patients had maintained an average loss of nearly 60 percent of their excess weight. That’s great news – but the catch is that it takes more than surgery to achieve and maintain those results. In gastric sleeve surgery, as in all types of weight loss surgery, the key element is you.
Sleeve gastrectomy and other types of weight loss surgery can only do so much in reducing weight; the rest is up to patients and maintaining a healthy lifestyle — including eating right and getting exercise — is critically important. If you’re considering a gastric sleeve procedure, here’s what you can expect once the procedure is over and your “new” life begins.
For about 12 weeks after surgery, you’ll need to take an acid-blocking medication to help prevent ulcers as your body adjusts to the changes. Plus, you’ll work closely with your doctor to develop an eating plan that will help ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay healthy. Although your digestive system still processes food in the same way after sleeve gastrectomy, the removal of part of your stomach means that the amount of food you eat is restricted. This can make it hard to get all the nutrients you need from food so your surgeon will usually suggest a bariatric quality multivitamin supplement.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll be placed on a liquid diet, gradually adding in pureed and soft foods as your digestive system adjusts. It can several months before you become comfortable with the amount and types of foods you’re able to eat, so being patient is key.
You’ll see your doctor at regular intervals following your immediate postoperative period, typically at two weeks, two months, six months and one year after your surgery, and then annually after that to check your progress and discuss any issues or concerns you might have, as well as to check on your general health and nutrition.
On average, patients lose about 60 percent of their excess weight in the first year or two after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. During that time, you may experience plateaus as your body continues to adjust, and you can expect to gain some of the weight back as your body stabilizes. To lose more weight, you may need to work with your dietitian to modify your calorie intake or increase your exercise level.
Like any other change in life, living with a gastric sleeve will take some getting used to. But once you begin to adjust, you’ll be surprised how quickly these changes will become part of your normal routine.