When deciding whether to have gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass surgery, I started doing tons of research online and read through thousands of threads in Facebook groups and so many websites. There were nights I would lose track of time reading and researching well into 3-4 o’clock in the morning. But I wanted to be sure that whichever surgery I chose was the right one for me.
Gastric sleeve surgery is a type of bariatric surgery that helps people lose weight by making the stomach smaller.
Gastric bypass surgery is a type of bariatric surgery that helps people lose weight by rerouting the digestive system. Both procedures are effective, but which one is right for you?
Unfortunately, a lot of the information was conflicting. Some people said that the surgery was a miracle cure, while others said that it had ruined their lives. I wasn’t sure what to believe. My head was spinning for the first 2-3 months I was researching. With so many conflicting stories, I needed to be sure that this was going down the right path.
Having gastric sleeve surgery has been an amazing journey for me so far, and I’m excited to share my experience with you. I can say with certainty that it was the best decision I ever made. Gastric sleeve surgery has been an amazing tool for me to finally work towards my weight loss goals.
As I’m writing this post, I’m almost a full month out of surgery. While I’ve had some aches & pains, overall, I’m extremely happy with how things have been. Other than struggles with eating, and getting my water & protein in, I have healed pretty quickly and have bounced back pretty well.
7 Important Gastric Sleeve Surgery Questions Answered
While some of us have great support, some of us may not be so lucky. My support has been so so when I started along my journey to gastric sleeve surgery. I set out to not only be my own support but also your support.
Is Gastric Sleeve Right For Me?
If you’re considering gastric sleeve surgery, you’re probably aware that making lifestyle changes is a critical part of ensuring the surgery is successful. But what you might not know is that many of these lifestyle changes aren’t as hard as you’d think.
Making lifestyle changes doesn’t have to be daunting – start small and build up from there! Implementing just one or two of these tips into your daily routine can make a big difference in your overall health and well-being. And if you need extra support along the way, don’t hesitate to seek out help from a registered dietitian nutritionist, or other healthcare professional.
Most of us have to lose a certain percentage or amount before we can even have the surgery. My insurance required me to lose 5% of my weight. It was a huge struggle at times, but I did it.
How Long Will This Journey Take?
When starting on your journey, you need to make sure your insurance will cover the procedure. If they don’t, you may have to pay out of pocket.
If your insurance pays for it, they have requirements besides weight loss. Some make you go through 6 months of nutritional classes, a psychological evaluation, pulmonary appointments, bloodwork, meetings with a nutritionist, and appointments with your surgical team.
If you don’t have insurance or your insurance doesn’t pay for surgery, there are cost-effective ways of having either gastric sleeve or gastric bypass surgeries. Some patients decide to go to bariatric surgeons in Mexico, while others go to other countries. It’s all about what you can afford.
How Long Will Recovery Be?
I was back to my normal activities within a week of gastric sleeve surgery, but I still had a lot of pain. I had issues with sleeping on my side without my binder on and struggled with getting my fluids in. I was very snippy with my husband for the first week.
Depending on how many incisions you have or if they had to do anything other than just your VSG like a hernia or gall bladder removal really depends on how long your recovery will be.
I was lucky, my recovery was pretty smooth. I was feeling 100% by end of week one and was back at the gym by week 2. Until I was cleared to lift, I was only allowed to lift items that were no more than 15lbs.
Typical recovery is 6-8 weeks. Most people go back to work after 4 weeks and hit the gym around that time also doing very limited exercises like a bike, treadmill, and stairclimber. You won’t be cleared for weight lifting until at least 6 weeks.
How Painful Is The Surgery?
The good news is that the pain from gastric sleeve surgery is usually manageable. Most patients report that the worst pain occurs in the first few days after surgery. This is to be expected, as your body is adjusting to the new changes. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication to help you through this tough time.
After the first few days, most patients say that the pain decreases significantly. You may still have some discomfort, but it should be much more bearable than in those early days post-op. Some patients even report that they feel great after a week or two and are able to return to their normal activities with little trouble.
Of course, every patient is different and will experience different levels of pain after surgery. Some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, and some people heal faster than others. So, while most patients report only moderate discomfort after gastric sleeve surgery, there are always exceptions to the rule.
You need to rest while you start healing. You can create reminders and alerts on your phone so that when you take naps throughout the day you will know when you’ll need to get up and walk. You will also need to make sure you’re taking the meds that your surgeon team has prescribed to you on time. Taking the medications at the same time daily gives you the best possible chance of not having issues.
When I was sleeved, the nurses came in and made me get up and walk. I remember barely being able to stay awake enough to talk with my dad and husband, but I knew I needed to get up and walk. It was necessary for me to do it so that I didn’t develop blood clots.
What Changes Do I Need To Make To My Diet?
After gastric sleeve surgery, you’ll need to eat smaller meals more often. According to many bariatric surgeons you want to have 3 small meals and 1 or 2 snacks daily. You should drink 64oz of liquids a day and wean off your protein shakes by months 2 or 3. By this time, you should rely on your meals to receive adequate protein intake.
You’ll also need to avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods, same with having too much sodium. Eating too much sugar can cause dumping syndrome which can rupture the staples in your stomach and cause ulcers.
Dumping syndrome is when food gets “dumped” directly from your stomach pouch into your small intestine without being digested. There are two types of dumping syndrome: early and late. Early dumping happens 10 to 30 minutes after a meal. Late dumping happens 1 to 3 hours after eating.
Symptoms of early dumping include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, lightheadedness, and cramping. Symptoms of late dumping include heart palpitations, sweating, and dizziness. As you can imagine, neither type of dumping is particularly pleasant.
What Risks Are Involved?
As with any surgery, there are always risks involved with gastric sleeve surgery. These risks include but are not limited to, infection, bleeding, and blood clots. Additionally, because the surgery involves the removal of a large portion of the stomach, there is a small risk that the stomach could rupture at some point in the future.
Despite these risks, gastric sleeve surgery can be an effective tool for those struggling with obesity. The surgery has been shown to help people lose weight and keep it off long-term. Additionally, it can help improve or resolve many obesity-related health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
How Much Weight Will I Lose?
Gastric sleeve surgery is an effective weight loss tool, but it’s not perfect. Some people lose a lot of weight quickly, while it takes others longer to lose weight and they may struggle to keep it off.
If you’re looking to lose weight quickly, gastric sleeve surgery may be the right choice for you. Typically people who go through bariatric surgery can expect to lose 30 to 40 percent of their excess weight in the first six months, and 77 percent of excess weight as early as 18 months after surgery.
To determine how much excess weight you have, talk with your doctor. While most still refer to the outdated BMI scale, it can come in handy when trying to figure out how much weight you should weigh for your height and gender.
If you have any questions about gastric sleeve surgery, please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Happy weight loss!
If you’re considering the surgery, I hope that this article has been helpful.