Gastric sleeve surgery has become the “gold standard” procedure in weight loss. In fact, one study in the journal, Surgery for Obesity and Related Disease found that those who underwent the operation, and the gastric sleeve diet, lost 57.4% of excessive body mass index (BMI) in five years. It has become more popular than gastric bypass and is now the top go-to solution to fight severe obesity.
The procedure is considered the least invasive compared to other bariatric surgeries. During the operation, the surgeon ultimately removes about 85% of the patient’s stomach.
Once the patient is given general anesthesia, the surgeon will make 2-5 incisions in the abdomen to make way for a laparoscope. It is a small, light tool with a camera that will transmit images to a small monitor throughout the procedure.
When in place, the surgeon will then remove the area of the stomach where the hunger hormone is located. Using surgical staples to conduct the necessary sectioning, the surgeon will create a long tube that will be about the size of a banana.
The irreversible procedure lasts anywhere between 60-90 minutes.
Results and Weight Loss
After the procedure, the patient usually stays in the hospital for 1-2 more days. Recovery will last a few weeks.
Weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery is slower compared to gastric bypass. However, signs of rapid weight loss may occur (40-60 pounds in the first two months), which can be attribute to the loss of appetite and reduced hunger. Over the next six months to one year, the patient can expect 50-80% of one’s excess body weight lost.
The weight loss percentage assumes that the patient did everything right: Two-week liquid diet followed by two-week semi solid diet, pureed foods then solids, along with regular exercise.
Gastric sleeve surgery not only dramatically decreases one’s weight. Studies have also shown that patients who underwent the procedure show improvement in high blood pressure, sleep apnea, diabetes and high cholesterol.
Once weight stabilises, some patients gain a bit of the weight back but BMI is a lot healthier than it was before.
Gastric Sleeve Diet
85% of the stomach is removed during the operation. That’s why patients are put in a very strict gastric sleeve diet to assure that they are eating right and consuming the best food to keep them healthy.
Patients are urged to skip empty calories like hot dogs, chips, alcohol, cookies, ice cream and the like. They must undergo a low-fat, low-sugar, high-protein diet in order to accomplish their daily activities while minimising pain.
For instance, the average body requires 60 grams of protein a day. To stay healthy throughout the ordeal, patients are recommended low-fat, protein-rich foods such as meat, yogurt, fish, protein shakes or beans.
The surgeon, along with the help of a nutritionist, will give the patient’s instructions on how to eat after surgery. For the first two days, patients are only allowed liquid, like broth or tea. Gradually, semi-solid food and solid foods will be introduced.
Pre-op: Diet before Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Humans are creatures of habit. So it is more than likely that the unhealthy food choices you regularly make before bariatric surgery are the same foods that you will crave after surgery. Gastric sleeve surgery is a very serious operation that changes the way your digestive system takes in food. This requires a much disciplined dietary lifestyle. Having the same unhealthy cravings after surgery can be very dangerous, especially if caving in could lead to fatal consequences.
Undergoing bariatric surgery not only affects your food choices, it also changes how you should eat food. Some habits like, drinking water while eating can be very dangerous to Gastric Sleeve patients. Due to the smaller size of your stomach, drinking water while eating can expand your pouch and potentially undo the staples and cause internal bleeding. You should start training yourself to drink water 30 minutes before and after eating solid food.
Because of your stomach’s smaller size, food can pass through only if it’s been chewed to very small pieces. So to decrease indigestion after surgery, you should practice eating food slowly and very thoroughly. The few months before surgery should be your training ground to prepare yourself for a whole new way of living.
Sustaining healthy eating habits months before a bariatric surgery reduces the risk of complications and hastens your body’s recovery after surgery. Although pre-op diets will vary from person to person, a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet should generally be kept months before the scheduled operation. For the two weeks leading up to the surgery, your intake should largely consist of liquids and be less than 1,000 calories daily.
As you come closer to the surgery date, you should become more and more careful of the food you take in. Consumption should only be limited to clear liquids two days before the surgery. To avoid complications in surgery, no solid food should be consumed. Clear fruit juices (w/o pulp), Jell-o, flavored water, popsicles and clear broth are some of the suggested food choices.
Cheating on your pre-op diet may not have fatal consequences to your surgery, but if you frequently catch yourself wandering past your diet, there’s a great chance that you still don’t understand the costs of undergoing Gastric Sleeve Surgery. Determination is what separates the line between success and failure, so if you find your determination wavering even before surgery, you might want to reconsider your life choices.
The pre-op preparations can be quite an uphill battle, but it’s necessary to get you ready for a much steeper climb. The most difficult parts of undergoing weight loss surgery actually come after the bariatric operation. It takes strict mental focus and discipline to get by the first few days after the surgery.
Post-op: Diet after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
After making it past surgery, it is critical that you follow your doctor’s every word. From an average of 60 ounce capacity, your stomach can now only hold 3 to 4 oz. Because of this change, you’ll have to slowly re-introduce different foods to your digestive system. It’ll take time before your stomach completely adjusts and starts handling solid food. This is no time to cheat on your diet, especially when cheating could lead to deadly complications.
Generally, there are four dietary phases you need to go through after undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. Each phase usually lasts a week, but it can vary from person to person. The decision to move to the next phase of this diet depends on you. If you think your body can handle going through to the next phase, you can start easing into it. Let your body guide you through these phases. Regularly case how you feel and carefully evaluate your recovery.
The first phase of your post op diet should consist primarily of clear liquids. Pulpy, carbonated, caffeinated or sugar-loaded drinks are strictly prohibited. Don’t overwhelm your stomach; just take small sips until you feel comfortable with drinking slightly larger amounts. Be careful not to drink more than your stomach can take, this can cause vomiting. Keeping yourself hydrated is critical during this phase, so you should aim to drink two and a half liters of water throughout the day.
The second phase introduces soft, blended or pureed food to your diet. Tiny lumps of solid food can still dangerous to consume in this phase, so you should make sure that your meals are blended extremely well. Your meals shouldn’t have a consistency thicker than that of yoghurt. Protein should also be a consistent component of each meal, this helps speed your recovery.
The third phase helps you transition from liquids to solid food. This is the phase where you can start adding real food to your diet. Your meals should have a texture resembling that of mashed potatoes. Because of the smaller capacity of your stomach, you should separate your drinks from your meals. This means not drinking water 30 minutes before and after eating.
Keep a high protein, low carb, low sugar and low fat diet during this phase. Your daily calorie intake shouldn’t go over 800 calories. This is the perfect time to establish a routine of eating three to four meals a day with two light snacks in between. Even if you don’t feel hunger, following a set dietary schedule can help you lose weight in the long run.
The fourth phase is where you can start introducing solid foods to your diet. Getting through the third phase can take a while, but if you feel that you’re ready, you can start going through the last phase. Although you’re done with pureed and mashed foods, you should still go for softer foods until you’re entirely sure your stomach can handle it. Your stomach is still sensitive, so go slow and chew thoroughly. Protein should still be a priority in every meal.
Carbonated, sugar-loaded and whole milk drinks together with fried, fibrous and high carbohydrate, low nutrient foods are still strictly prohibited. Make water your new best friend; drink at least 64 ounces throughout each day.
The fifth phase is where you continue to slowly introduce healthy and nutrient dense foods to your diet. Let your body take the lead and evaluate which foods your stomach can tolerate. Diarrhea, constipation and stomach aches are general signs that tell you that you should cut back on certain foods.
Multivitamins are an important supplement throughout the four phases of your post op diet. It can be tough to get all the nutrition you need from the diet alone. Exercise also plays an important role in your weight loss journey. It may take some time before you can exercise fully, but if you’ve already recovered enough to walk, let that be your exercise routine until you can hit the gym.
Honor and follow up appointments with your doctor. They are your guide all throughout this journey. Although strict adherence to their prescriptions can avoid complications, you should still be on the look-out for these signs;
- Severe abdominal pain
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Bleeding in incision, vomit or stool
- Vomiting that prevent fluid intake for 24 hours
- Calf or leg pain or swelling
If you start to experience any one of these symptoms, you should immediately consult your doctor.
Stock up on materials and resources that can help you thrive in this new lifestyle. Find other people that are going through the same path as you are. Having a strong support group throughout this change helps physical and emotional recovery.
Undergoing Gastric Sleeve surgery is just the start of a long journey to a new and healthier you, so be patient and never lose determination, all good things take time.