Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recovery Timeline and Process
Have you undergone or are you considering undergoing gastric sleeve surgery? Here we completely cover the gastric sleeve surgery recovery timeline and process.
Every surgical procedure is unique in its recovery expectations and requirements.
How Gastric Sleeve Surgery Works
The gastric sleeve is a restrictive weight loss procedure (meaning it restricts the amount of food eaten by reducing stomach volume) which creates a fuller feeling sooner, limiting how much food the patient can eat at one time.
After removing part of the stomach, the entire gastric sleeve is only the size of a banana. It is important to consider gastric sleeve requirements before undergoing surgery. Planning ahead is an important part of making sure that recovery is as smooth as possible.
Here are some of the most important considerations when it comes to gastric sleeve recovery.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery Tips
- Expect discomfort, mild pain, nausea, and tenderness
- Avoid dumping syndrome by following the proper post-op diet
- Walk, walk, walk – You need to get up and start walking! I know you won’t feel like it, but it’s important to walk around after surgery for recovery
- Sip, sip, sip – Drink water constantly, it’s important to consume at least 64 ounces per day
Before Gastric Sleeve Surgery [Pre-Op]
Make dietary changes. The dietary changes that occur as a result of the gastric sleeve procedure can be intense. The best way to prepare is to make the necessary dietary changes ahead of time and gradually. Most physicians are going to recommend that patients switch to liquids-only diet two weeks before the surgery, view our pre-op diet for gastric sleeve.
Smoking cessation. Anyone who is currently smoking will be advised to cease as early as a month before the actual surgery date. The reason for this is because it will reduce the potential for surgery-related complications while speeding up the post-operative recovery time. Some surgeons will outright refuse to perform this type of surgery on a patient who refuses to quit smoking.
Recovery After Gastric Sleeve Surgery [Post-Op]
1. Expect some discomfort
Some pain and discomfort are going to occur after the surgery. During the first week following your surgery, you may need to take pain medication prescribed by your physician. There are a couple of different types of pain that may occur, including tenderness and pain around the site of the incision, and tenderness in the stomach because you will be getting fuller faster.
2. Understand and avoid dumping syndrome
Dumping syndrome occurs when food empties into your small intestine more quickly than it should. This can cause shakiness, diarrhea, and nausea. It can also make it possible for the body to lack proper nutrition because the nutrients in the food are not absorbed properly. As such, you must follow the diet that your physician sets for you to the letter, especially in the first few weeks of recovery after the procedure. You can begin to add solid foods to the diet over time, but you need to grow accustomed to chewing thoroughly, and to stop at the first signs of fullness. It can take some time to get used to eating much less than you did before.
3. Educate yourself on the entire recovery process
What you can and should expect will change from day-to-day. The first day will be the most difficult day and the day where the diet is the strictest because you can only have clear liquids while you recover. Many patients feel more pain between days three and six. The surgeon will give you a particular diet in which you are to follow to make sure that you are recovering as expected. During the initial recovery, your diet will be primarily liquid, but then you will be able to add in increasingly solid foods until you move to complete solid foods. It is important to start small and works your way up as you learn which foods work well with your stomach and how much you can handle.
4. Activity will be slow for a while
This is not only because you will be recovering from an operation, but also because while you are adjusting to the new diet, you will feel tired and sluggish. You will have to grow accustomed to changes in your diets, the nutrients that your body absorbs, and also how your digestive system works before your energy is going to improve. Your physician is going to recommend how much activity you should be getting on a daily basis during the first few weeks of your recovery.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery Timeline – Day 1 thru 60
**Remember, this is our advice to our patients and may not be universal among all surgeons. Everybody is different and recovery time varies differently for everybody**
The gastric sleeve recovery time, process, and timeline all depends on how the patient’s body reacts to the new sleeved stomach.
After surgery, patients generally spend 1 to 2 days recovering in the hospital. If your nervous or in pain, it’s important to ask your doctor, surgeon, or nurse for medication to help you relax and relieve pain.
Pain and discomfort are common after waking up from anesthesia. Patients will have between 1 and 5 incisions in the abdominal area. The first day you will most likely spend recovering in the hospital. It’s critical to communicate directly with nurses and surgeon all your questions or concerns during your stay.
A drain is installed for 1-2 days in order to detect a leak. You may experience feelings of nausea after surgery.
Day 1 – What to Expect
24 hours after surgery, patients are able to shower. After the day of surgery, it’s time to start the post-op diet. This usually includes clear liquids like broth, sugar-free drinks, soup, etc. Again, staying hydrated is critical.
- Activity should be limited to walking every hour.
- No driving, no sex, no climbing, no swimming and no lifting heavy objects (more than 25 lbs) for at least 2 – 4 weeks after surgery.
Day 2 thru 5 – Moving Forward
On day 2, it’s time to finish your leak tests and get discharged from the hospital. Discomfort starts to disappear for most patients. Some bruising may occur. You must be active with walking and drinking 64 ounces of clear liquids every day.
Any type of eating and drinking is really hard because of the reduced stomach size from gastric sleeve surgery. It feels impossible for most patients to get enough fluids in, do your best to stay as hydrated as possible.
Days 5 thru 7 – Lifestyle Changes
At around day 5, it will be close to moving to phase 2 of the post-op diet. This is entirely dependent on your readiness, recovery, health, and nutritionist suggestion.
Some pain may still exist and bruising may be apparent, remember you are still at the beginning of the recovery process.
Days 8 thru 14 – Back to Work
Patients go back to work when they feel fully recovered and their doctor gives them the go-ahead. Going back to work can be as soon as 5 days and as late as 3 weeks depending on the level of activity required of your job duties.
For example, patients with a desk job can go back to work relatively quickly as opposed to a construction job that requires heavy lifting and activity levels.
Days 11 thru 20 – Diet and Exercise
You begin really seeing results as compliments start coming in from family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Patients can expect to feel great both mentally and physically. This is the time to really start focusing on the post-op diet, finding new foods and recipes, and forming an exercise routine.
Days 21 thru 30 – Critical Moments
From here on out – you must be ready to form lifelong habits. This includes:
- Healthy eating habits
- Taking vitamins daily
- Having an exercise routine
- Caring for yourself
Days 31 thru 60 – Lifelong Goals
After one month post-op, weight loss continues to drop for nearly all patients and lifelong goals are more important than ever. Some important parts of 1 thru 2 months out includes:
- Feeling cold after gastric sleeve surgery
- Hair loss
- Feeling tired (usually a sign of needed nutrients or food because your stomach doesn’t as hungry)
- Gas (don’t trust a fart)
- Excess skin accumulation
One of the most common questions we receive is whether the stomach will stretch postoperatively?
Things to Remember with the Recovery Process
Your doctor will lay out guidelines for you during your gastric sleeve recovery process. It is important that you go over all of these guidelines before and after the surgery so that you make sure to follow them completely. When you are undergoing a serious surgery that drastically impacts your digestive ability and your nutrition, following all directions to the letter is imperative for your recovery and ongoing health. You must take all gastric sleeve surgery recovery guidelines set forth by your surgeon and physician seriously.
If you have any additional questions regarding the gastric sleeve surgery recovery process, you may contact us at any time.
*Results and recovery time varies from patients to patient. Follow the advice of your primary care physician and/or bariatric surgeon
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Resources
For additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact us using the below contact form, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
* Prices are subject to change. Not valid on blackout dates. Prices depend on the surgeon, surgery, additional fees, and schedule. Prices may rise because of BMI level and previous abdominal surgeries.
** All of the testimonials are covered in our disclaimers. Individuals results will vary; there is no guarantee stated nor implied.
Last Updated: September 6, 2018 by Ron Elli, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Dr. Kimberly Langdon, M.D. August 2018