Recovering from the Operation
When you first wake up from the anaesthetic, you’ll probably feel sore and groggy for a while. You might find that your memory feels a bit hazy too. It can take a day or two for the effects to wear off completely. Your throat may feel sore and dry because of the breathing tube used during the operation. You will also have several small surgical wounds on your incision. These will be stitched or glued shut and covered with dressings.
You will probably spend 2-3 days in the hospital. The staff will be there to provide support and answer any questions. You should expect to feel sore, especially around the surgical incisions. The nurses will give you some painkillers to help with this. You’ll be encouraged to get up and move around as soon as you feel able, as this can help you to recover faster. It can be tough at first, but the more you move, the easier it will become so it’s important to stick with it.
The surgical wounds should heal in about a week. You’ll need to keep them clean and dry while they heal. The dressings can usually be removed in about 7 days. You will still be able to see the surgical scars. If you notice any redness, pain, swelling or pus around them at any time, you should consult your doctor as you may have an infection.
Getting Back to Normal
You will need to rest for at least 2-3 weeks after your sleeve gastrectomy. Your body needs time to heal and you’ll be on a very restricted diet during this time. Make sure that you arrange plenty of time off work and enlist help from friends and family. You’ll need to rest a lot and you’ll still be dealing with some pain, but it should be getting better.
The first couple of weeks involve a lot of resting at home, which can be quite isolating and boring. It’s a good idea to prepare for this before the procedure by gathering some books, box sets or other things to entertain yourself at home. Asking people to call or visit you can also make a big difference if you hate spending time alone. It’s especially useful if you can get them to help out a little while you’re there, as you’re unlikely to get much done around the house in the first couple of weeks.
As your body heals, you’ll gradually be able to return to your normal routine. Your doctor will also recommend increasing your activity levels as getting regular exercise is an important part of losing weight.
- Walking is great exercise during recovery, you should gradually increase the amount
- You should be fit enough to drive as soon as you are able to wear a seatbelt comfortably
- Most everyday activities are possible in 2-4 weeks, but avoid strenuous activities or exercise
- Gentle exercise such as swimming should be possible in about a month
- More intense exercise can be introduced after this, with your doctor’s advice
- Avoid lifting anything heavy for at least 2 months
Your Diet After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
You won’t be able to eat for a day or so after the operation as your stomach needs some time to start healing. You probably won’t feel very hungry anyway, so it’s best to just rest and recover. You’ll have a swallow test the day after the procedure to check that your stomach is ready. A radiologist will give you a special liquid to swallow and then perform a scan to make sure there aren’t any leaks. When you get the all clear, you can start drinking clear liquids. It will still be a while before you can eat anything solid.
- Week 1: Clear liquids only
- Week 2: introduce thicker liquids
- Week 3: try adding soft or pureed foods
- From Week 4: gradually add solid foods to the diet
- Back to a normal diet in about 6 weeks (though still controlling your calories carefully)
You should begin to lose weight straight away after your gastric sleeve surgery. As long as you stick to the recommended diet and exercise programme, you should continue to head toward your target weight.
Most people can expect to lose:
- Up to 50% of your excess weight within 6 months
- 50-70% of excess weight in a year
- Weight loss slows down after this, but will continue as long as you keep dieting
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you have gastric sleeve surgery is that you are making a permanent change. You should be committed to changing your lifestyle forever so that you can reach your target and then maintain your new healthy weight. The surgery will help you to achieve your goal, but it is up to you to make it a success.
How do you expect your life to change after weight loss surgery?