Gastric Sleeve Recovery Guide: What To Expect

by | Jun 6, 2024

Feeling overwhelmed by the thought of surgery? You’re not alone. Gastric sleeve surgery is a big decision, one that comes with its share of nerves about the procedure and the recovery that follows. 

But this step isn’t just a challenge—it’s a promise for a healthier, more vibrant life. Gastric sleeves can play a big role in helping you lose excess weight and reduce symptoms of obesity-related issues. 

If you’re feeling a bit anxious about what comes after, though, no worries – we’re here to guide you every step of the way. We’ll break down what to expect, walk you through the recovery timeline, and help you embrace the long-term changes. Let’s look at how you can heal completely and adapt to your new lifestyle. 

What is gastric sleeve surgery? 

Gastric sleeve surgery is a popular choice if you’re looking to turn the tide on your weight loss struggles. It involves removing about 75% of your stomach, which basically leaves you with a stomach the size and shape of a banana. This means you’ll feel full faster and eat less, making it easier to manage your portions and curb overeating. 

A lot of people consider the sleeve after battling obesity and other health-related problems like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea – issues that really take a toll on day-to-day life. 

A gastric sleeve does more than just shrink your stomach; it also brings about hormonal changes that boost your weight loss efforts. It’s like hitting the reset button on your health, in more ways than one! 

Do you qualify for gastric sleeve surgery? 

The first few days of recovery

After your gastric sleeve, you’ll spend a day or two in the hospital. This gives your doctors a chance to keep an eye on your initial recovery and take care of any immediate needs after your surgery. 

While you’re there, your medical team will keep a close watch on your vital signs, review  your incision sites, and see how your body’s reacting to the surgery. They’ll make sure you have pain relief meds to keep you comfortable as the effects of the general anesthesia fade away. It’s also super important to start moving around as soon as you can to help your circulation and cut down the risk of blood clots. 

In the first few days post-op, you’ll be on a liquid diet to let your new, smaller stomach heal without the strain of digesting solid foods. You’ll stick to clear broths and unsweetened juices. Staying hydrated is key, so remember to sip slowly and steadily throughout the day. 

You might feel a bit wiped out and have some abdominal cramping or gas pain, but these are all normal parts of getting better! Your medical team will guide you through managing these side effects and adjusting to your new eating habits smoothly. 

Weeks 1-6 of recovery

Your first six weeks after surgery are all about adjusting to a new way of life. There’s a lot of change, so it’s completely normal to feel a bit overwhelmed! You’ll be getting used to new eating habits, making some lifestyle changes, and taking it easy on physical activity while you heal. 

Here’s an example of how your diet will gradually change: 

  • Weeks 1-2: Stick with a liquid diet to help your stomach heal up nicely. You’ll keep going with the broths and unsweetened juices, and you can also add in things like protein shakes to keep your energy up. 
  • Weeks 3-4: As you start feeling better, you’ll move on to pureed foods. We’re talking smooth, blended stuff that’s super easy on your stomach. Think pureed fruits, veggies, and lean proteins that pack in the nutrients without putting too much pressure on your healing stomach.
  • Weeks 5-6: Now you can start introducing soft foods. These are a bit more substantial but still simple to chew and swallow. Mashed soft-boiled eggs, mashed cooked veggies, and soft steamed fish are all great options. 

During this time, keep your physical activity to just light walking. It’s enough to help prevent blood clots, lower the risk of any surgical hitches, and aid your overall recovery. You can slowly up the pace and length of your walks as you go, but take it easy and steer clear of heavy lifting or anything too strenuous until your doctor gives you the thumbs up. 

Read more about your post-surgery diet and how to eat for success.  

Long-term recovery

As you move past the first-month post-surgery, your focus will naturally shift towards maintaining the positive changes you’ve started to make in your lifestyle. Entering the second month, it’s all about being consistent with your new eating and exercise habits so that you see long-term success. 

Adapting to your new lifestyle

Now’s the time to really embrace eating smaller, more balanced meals. Concentrate on high-protein, low-carb foods that fuel your body and help with weight management – give your body the right kind of nutrients to thrive! 

Getting regular exercise should also be a big part of your daily routine. A good mix of cardio and strength training will not only boost your metabolism but also improve your muscle tone, making you feel stronger and more energised.

Expected weight loss and health improvements

The most dramatic weight loss typically happens within the first 12 to 18 months after your surgery. By sticking to your dietary guidelines and keeping up with regular physical activity as recommended by your doctors, you’ll see gradual but significant changes. 

And it’s not just about losing weight! You’ll likely notice other health benefits too, like better control of diabetes, lower blood pressure, and improved heart health. These improvements are crucial in reducing your risk of obesity-related issues down the road. 

Monitoring and follow-up

Regular checkups with your doctor are key. You’ve made a major change – it can be tricky to figure out what works best for your new body. Having the support and guidance of medical professionals during this time is invaluable. They’ll help monitor your health, nutritional status, and overall recovery to make sure you’re on track and adjusting as needed. 

Recovery challenges and potential complications

Like any surgery, gastric sleeve surgery isn’t without its risks and potential complications. The key to handling these is being aware of what could happen during your recovery and knowing how to respond. 

Short-term challenges and complications

Right after your surgery, you might run into a few issues like: 

  • Issues with the surgical site: Even though the incisions are small, there’s a risk of leakage at the staple line, infections, or blood clots. Keep an eye out for severe abdominal pain, fever, ongoing nausea, vomiting, or rapid heart rate. 
  • Nausea, dehydration, and fatigue: These are pretty common due to your reduced stomach capacity and changes in how your body handles fluids. Make sure to eat slowly, sip water throughout the day, and steer clear of sugary or high-fat foods. 
  • Emotional changes: It’s totally normal to feel a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally as you adjust to your new lifestyle. Mood swings or feelings of frustration can pop up. Lean on the support of family and friends, and don’t hesitate to reach out to mental health professionals if you need it. 

Read Dr Andrew Kiyingi’s tips on how to reduce fatigue after weight loss surgery. 

Long-term challenges

As you move further along in your recovery, keep an eye out for: 

  • Nutrient deficiencies: It’s important to monitor levels of vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Regular check-ups can help ensure you stay healthy and well-nourished. 
  • Weight regain: Stick to the recommended diet and exercise regularly! If you consistently overfill your stomach, it can stretch, leading to weight gain. Keep to your portion sizes and maintain a balanced diet to keep this in check.
  • Stomach complications: While rare, complications like ulcers and strictures can occur. Watch out for symptoms like burning stomach pain, nausea, and frequent indigestion, and talk to your doctor if they arise. 

Take control of your health today

Recovering from gastric sleeve surgery is definitely a journey that requires both commitment and patience. From the moment you leave the operating room to the long-term lifestyle changes you’ll make, each step is vital for a successful outcome. Luckily, with Perth Bariatric Surgery, you’ll have the support of our dedicated medical team to guide you. 

If you’re considering a gastric sleeve in Perth, remember that perseverance is key. Every little step you take is a step towards a healthier, more fulfilling life. Our experienced team is here to support you through your health transformation. We’re not just about the surgery; we’re about helping you embrace a new, healthier you. 

Book a consultation today. 

Dr. Andrew Kiyingi

Dr. Andrew Kiyingi

With 16+ year’s clinical experience, Dr Andrew Kiyingi is a specialist weight-loss surgeon at Perth Bariatric Surgery with advanced training in minimally invasive surgery. Graduated from the University of Otago (NZ), he was awarded with University Gold Medal in General Practice and Distinction in Surgery. He is also a Surgical Trainer for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons.