Achieving Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recovery
How you take care of yourself after your gastric sleeve surgery is just as important—if not more so—than the results of the surgery itself. This procedure will have a drastic and immediate effect on your body and how it functions. But what happens after the surgery is up to you.
In order to achieve full gastric sleeve surgery recovery, it's vitally important that you take proper care of yourself. Appropriate aftercare helps you avoid complications while you heal, and improves the chances of the procedure being a success in helping you to lose weight.
What to Expect During Your Recovery
Recovering from gastric sleeve surgery usually takes between two and eight weeks. The exact amount of time you'll need to recover will depend a great deal on your body’s natural healing ability, and on how well you follow our surgeon's post-operative instructions.
Following your gastric sleeve surgery, expect some discomfort which may last for several days after the procedure. You may also experience some tenderness and pain around the incision sites, as well as general tenderness in the stomach. You will be prescribed pain medication to help alleviate this discomfort.
It's crucial that you understand the symptoms of dumping syndrome, a condition that occurs when food empties too quickly into the small intestine. Dumping syndrome can cause nausea, vomiting, faintness, the shakes, and diarrhea. If you experience any of these symptoms, notify our doctor immediately.
Realize that your energy level may be low for a while after surgery. This is because your body is using a lot of its energy and resources to heal. In addition, your body will be adjusting to a new diet, so you may feel tired and sluggish at first. This will improve over time as you become accustomed to the dietary changes, and as your body begins to once again absorb nutrients.
Make sure you follow all of our physician's post-operative instructions. Remember, this is a serious procedure that drastically changes your digestive system. By following these instructions, you can expect a smoother recovery, and reduced risk of gastric sleeve surgery complications.
For the first week after gastric sleeve surgery, you will be on a liquid-only diet. To create the gastric sleeve, your stomach will be stapled, and those staples will be the only things holding that newly formed sleeve together. Your stomach will need time to heal before it's strong enough to withstand the pressure put on it by solid food.
After that first week, you'll progress to a soft-foods diet for another week, and then gradually move to small portions of solid foods the week after that. During this time, it's important to make a habit of fully chewing your food to make it easier for your newly reduced stomach to digest it.
You'll also need to make sure you drink plenty of water during this recovery period, though never with food. Combining water and food will put too much stress on your stomach.
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Healing Process
This is a general guideline to follow in the weeks and months following your surgery. Be sure to follow the instructions provided to you by our surgeon.
The First Two Weeks Following Surgery
Immediately after your gastric sleeve surgery, you'll start with a clear liquid diet, and slowly progress to a full liquid diet. Make sure to slowly sip at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, non-carbonated fluids each day to stay hydrated. You will need to avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages as well.
You'll need to take slow, gentle and stay mobile to encourage the healing process, and to avoid complications such as pneumonia and blood clots.
Use caution when bending at the waist, and avoid picking up heavy objects. Our surgeon will advise you when you can return to work.
A few days after any type of abdominal surgery, you may experience pain that radiates to your shoulders and neck. This is normal, and it should go away in a few days. However, if the pain persists, consult our surgeon.
Three to Six Weeks After Surgery
At about the three-week mark after your surgery, you'll be able to eat soft foods and start slowly progressing back to solid foods. If you experience nausea or regurgitation when you start eating soft foods, go back to the liquid diet for a few more days before trying soft foods again. If you have abdominal pain that lasts more than three hours, contact our surgeon immediately.
When you start incorporating solid foods into your diet again, they should be protein-rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, low-fat dairy products, starches, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
You must avoid raw vegetables, fruits with skin, nuts, popcorn, tough meats, stringy foods, and crusty breads including bagels and pretzels. You'll also need to avoid high-sugar, high-fat, and high-calorie foods, all of which can cause dumping syndrome.
Continue to drink at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, non-carbonated fluid each day to stay hydrated, and caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and high-calorie drinks such as milkshakes, smoothies, and specialty coffee drinks.
Talk to our doctor about supplementing your diet with a daily multivitamin and calcium because your body will absorb fewer nutrients after surgery.
Continue walking and, once you're cleared by the doctor to do so, add low-impact aerobic exercise such as cycling or swimming.
Your abdominal muscles will still be healing at this stage, so lift with caution (still avoiding heavy objects), and do not perform any abdominal exercises unless our doctor allows it.