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Gastric Sleeve Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average gastric sleeve recovery time?

Gastric sleeve recovery time depends on your condition and procedure. If you have gastric sleeve — also known as sleeve gastrectomy — you can usually return home the second day after surgery. Most people return to work or other daily routines in 5 to 10 days.

What gastric sleeve complications or side effects should I consider?

Gastric sleeve risks and complications include:

  • You may experience leaks from stomach staples. 
  • For a higher BMI, a second-stage procedure is sometimes required to lose excess weight.
  • Gastric sleeve is not reversible.
  • Soft, high-calorie foods, such as ice cream or milkshakes, are more absorbable, which slows weight loss.

With any procedure poor weight loss or weight regain can happen if there is a failure of behavioral modifications and dietary compliance.

What should I know about gastric sleeve vs. Roux-en-Y Gastric bypass?

Both procedures have a risk of leaks from stomach staples.

With any procedure, poor weight loss or weight regain can happen if there is a failure of behavioral modifications and dietary compliance.

Other considerations include:

  • Roux-en–Y gastric bypass is a more complex procedure that takes longer and has a higher risk of potential problems, including surgical risks such as infection, bleeding or stomach obstruction.
  • Gastric sleeve has a decreased chance of “dumping syndrome”, a gastric bypass side effect when undigested food spills from your stomach pouch into the small intestine causing various symptoms.
  • Roux-en–Y gastric bypass has a higher risk of potential problems, including surgical risks such as infection or bleeding.
  • For a higher BMI, some people need this second-stage procedure to lose excess weight.
What is the gastric sleeve pre-op diet?

Two weeks before your surgery, you are required to follow a liquid meal replacement diet. The purpose of this diet is to reduce the size of the liver to make surgery safer. This diet includes protein shakes, several “approved” snacks (eg, sugar-free pudding, yogurt and sugar-free gelatin), and plenty of clear liquids (water, broth, sugar-free jello and popsicles). Your registered dietitian will go over the details of this diet once your surgery is scheduled.

*Note for patients with diabetes: You will be asked to talk to your primary care doctor or endocrinologist about adjusting your diabetes medications while following the pre-op liquid diet.

Why do I need to make changes in my diet and lose some weight before surgery?

Some insurance providers require evidence of weight loss prior to surgery. In addition, the dietitian will need to provide a statement to the insurance provider that you are “low risk” for bariatric surgery because you have demonstrated that you can make the necessary changes in your diet and physical activity level, which you will need to continue after your surgery.

The preparation period before surgery provides time for you to practice healthier eating habits and mentally adjust to a different lifestyle. Bariatric surgery involves physical, mental, and emotional changes to be successful in the long term.

Why do I need to take vitamin/mineral supplements after surgery?

Research has shown that nutrient deficiencies are common after bariatric surgery. You may not be absorbing or utilizing nutrients in the same way and your food intake is restricted. Therefore, your requirements for vitamins and minerals are higher than they were before surgery. Once you have surgery you are committing to taking the necessary supplements permanently. If vitamin and mineral deficiencies become severe, you can have very serious and permanent complications.

During your preparation for surgery you will receive education about the recommended products to purchase before your surgery. We regularly review the current ASMBS (American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery) recommendations and adjust our educational materials according to the most current research.

Do I need to exercise after surgery?

Yes, regular exercise after surgery has many benefits, including:

  • Achieving optimal body weight
  • Improving body composition
  • Improving weight loss maintenance
  • Reducing risk of weight gain
  • Finding and maintaining long term success

Once cleared by your bariatric team, start a maintenance exercise regimen with the long-term goal of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each day. In addition, it is recommended to add strength training at least 2 days per week to complement aerobic exercise.

Can I expect hair loss after gastric sleeve surgery?

Rapid weight loss can cause temporary hair thinning. It may begin several months after surgery. Hair should re-grow once your weight stabilizes. Avoid hair treatments, and eat plenty of protein. Certain supplements may also help.

What is the typical weight loss after gastric sleeve?

It’s common to lose 50 to 70% of excess weight over a one- to two-year period after gastric sleeve.

What are the side effects of gastric sleeve?

Side effects of gastric sleeve — also known as sleeve gastrectomy — can include:

  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea – more common during all-liquid diet stages
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea – sometimes due to poor eating habits, but doctors may prescribe anti-nausea medication
  • Temporary hair loss
  • Vomiting – caused by unfamiliar or poorly tolerated foods, or complications
Can I drink alcohol after gastric sleeve?

The Temple bariatric team recommends that you do not drink alcohol. It can potentially damage your stomach pouch and cause bleeding. Your threshold for being legally intoxicated is greatly decreased after surgery.

What if I feel pain under my ribs or other discomfort after gastric sleeve?

You will have tenderness and pain at the site of your incision and from your interior stomach wounds and staples. Your doctor will prescribe pain medication. Report any unusual pain or other symptoms to your care team.

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Find a doctor near you, request an appointment, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.