Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recovery Time
Every surgical procedure is unique in its recovery time. The gastric sleeve, or vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a restrictive weight loss procedure that cuts out 80% of the stomach. Weight loss is caused by limiting food intake and feeling satisfied quickly.
**Remember, this is our advice to our patients and may not be universal among all surgeons. Everybody is different and recovery time varies**
After surgery, patients generally spend 1 to 2 days recovering in the hospital. The Enhanced Recovery (ERAS) protocol in the setting of the gastric sleeve may shorten the hospital stay (1 day). If you experience pain or anxiety, notify a doctor, surgeon, or nurse for medication to help you relax and relieve pain.
Following the procedure, mild pain and discomfort are common after waking up from anesthesia. You may experience feelings of nausea after surgery.Patients will have between 1 and 5 incisions in the abdominal area. Communicating your questions or concerns directly with nurses and surgeons during your hospital stay is critical.
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. The discomfort starts to disappear for most patients. Some bruising may occur. You must be active by 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
Around day 5, it will be close to moving to phase 2 of the post-op diet. This depends entirely 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 return 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 return to work relatively quickly, unlike a construction job requiring heavy lifting and activity levels.
Days 11 thru 20: Diet and Exercise
You begin seeing results as compliments come in from family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. Patients can expect to feel great both mentally and physically. This is the time to 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 bariatric vitamins daily
- Having an exercise routine
- Caring for yourself
Gastric Sleeve Recovery Long-Term 1 Month thru 12 months
Months 1 thru 6 – Adapting to Your New Stomach
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 include:
- 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 build-up (don’t trust a fart)
- Excess skin accumulation
Months 6 thru 12 (1 year) – Stabilization
Now that your 2 months post-op, you may see an increase in energy, and your mood continues to stabilize. Your post-op diet should integrate solid, healthy foods. Drinking water is still important, and eating portion-controlled meals should be easier to follow.
Although you should be close to fully recovered, it’s still important to take your new life day by day without overexerting yourself or trying to do too much too soon. Maintaining a healthy routine, eating habits, exercising routine, and managing stress levels are extremely important factors that can improve your long-term weight loss.
Most patients will lose most excess weight in the first year following gastric sleeve surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery Lifelong – 1 Year thru 10 Year
Year 1 thru 3 – Avoiding Pitfalls
Weight loss generally slows as you reach year 2 after surgery. Now it’s important to avoid stretching your pouch and overeating.
Your doctor will lay out guidelines for you during your gastric sleeve recovery process. You must go over all of these guidelines before and after the surgery so that you make sure to follow them completely.
The first one and half years after surgery are a crucial time. It must comply with the post-op diet and take bariatric-specific vitamins, such as Emerge Bariatrics, for long-term success.
Year 3 thru 10 – Success of Failure
Stomach Stretching – One of the most common questions is whether the stomach will stretch after a gastric sleeve. Learn more about stomach stretching after gastric sleeve surgery.
You may contact us at any time if you have any additional questions regarding the gastric sleeve surgery recovery process.
*Results and recovery time varies from patient to patient. Follow the advice of your primary care physician and/or bariatric surgeon.
Recovery After Gastric Sleeve Surgery [Post-Op]
1. Expect some discomfort
Some pain, discomfort, and nausea will occur after the surgery. During the first week following your surgery, you may need to take pain medication prescribed by your physician. A couple of different types of pain 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 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 proper post-op diet your physician sets for you, especially in the first few weeks of rehabilitation 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 stop at the first signs of fullness. It can take time to get used to eating much less than 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 and the day where the diet is the strictest because you can only have clear liquids while recovering. Many patients feel more pain between days three and six. The surgeon will give you a diet you are to follow to ensure that you are healing as expected.
During the initial recovery after sleeve gastrectomy, your diet will be primarily liquid, but then you will be able to add increasingly solid foods until you move to complete solid foods. It is important to start small and work 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 you will feel tired and sluggish while adjusting to the new diet. You will have to grow accustomed to changes in your diets, the nutrients your body absorbs, and how your digestive system works before your energy improves. Your physician will recommend how much activity you should be getting daily during the first few weeks of your restoration.
Recovery Tips and FAQs
Is Gastric Sleeve Painful?
Many patients are worried about pain after gastric sleeve and how long it lasts. Is gastric sleeve surgery painful? After the surgery, it’s normal to feel a little pain if you eating or drinking in the first two weeks. As your stomach continues to heal, you’ll feel better. It’s important to realize that you’ll feel better the next day and the day after. If you feel worse day after day, then there is an issue that needs to be addressed.
What lifestyle changes need to be made to ensure success?
Exercise and physical activities are a must for bariatric patients. We need to include cardiovascular exercises and specific parts of the patient that need extra attention – for example, the back or leg muscles. It’s also important to change our diet, the way we think about food, and the way we choose our food. Patients need to choose responsible foods that help the surgery be effective.
Walking and exercising immediately after gastric sleeve
As soon as three or four hours after surgery, you must start walking as much as possible. Walking prevents inflammation in the abdominal wall, so you are reducing this risk by walking often. It also speeds up recovery, improves healing, and decreases pain. If you cannot walk, you need to move to recover faster – even if it’s as simple as moving in your bed.
Incision healing and caring for your wound
After the laparoscopic gastric sleeve, the incisions must be kept clean using only soap and water. Keep it fully covered with thick gauze and bandage tape. Once the wound scabs and closes completely, you may stop covering incisions. It is important to keep it dry as much as possible besides when you shower. This means no ointments, bathing, swimming, and blanketed from sweat.
How long after surgery can patients resume their normal activities?
It depends on the usual activities of the patients, but usually 7 to 10 days. That is one of the advantages of laparoscopic surgeries. If a patient does heavy exercises or lifting, the patient will need to wait at least six weeks.
Gastric Sleeve Recovery Tips
- Walk, walk, walk – You need to get up and start walking! You may not feel like it, but it’s important to walk around after surgery for quick recovery
- Sip, sip, sip – Drink water constantly to prevent dehydration, it’s important to consume at least 64 ounces per day
Gastric Sleeve Surgery Resources
- Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Worth It?
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery Results
- Side Effects of Gastric Sleeve
- Post-Operative Diet
- Medications to Avoid After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- 5 Things to Getting Used to After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Enhanced recovery versus standard care after laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy
Additional Recovery Guides