Gastric Sleeve Surgery Recovery Time
Have you undergone or are you considering undergoing gastric sleeve surgery? On this page, we cover the gastric sleeve surgery recovery process.
Every surgical procedure is unique in its recovery expectations and requirements. Gastric sleeve is also called the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, which is a restrictive weight loss procedure that creates a fuller feeling sooner, limiting how much food the patient can eat at one time.
What this process involves is creating a vertical sleeve in the stomach. After removing 80-85% of the stomach, the entire gastric sleeve stomach size is only the capacity of a banana. It is important to consider gastric sleeve requirements before undergoing surgery. Planning ahead is an important part of making sure the road to recovery is as smooth as possible.
Recovery After Gastric Sleeve Surgery [Post-Op]
1. Expect some discomfort
Some pain and discomfort, as well as nausea, 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 proper post-op diet that your physician sets for you to the letter, 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 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 healing as expected.
During the initial recovery after sleeve gastrectomy, 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 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 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 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 your 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?
Obviously, we need to change our lifestyle to include exercises and include physical activities. We need to include cardiovascular exercises, as well as specific parts of the patient that needs extra attention – for example, the back or leg muscles. It’s also important to change our diet, the way we think about food, 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 need to start walking as much as possible. Walking prevents inflammation in the abdominal wall, so by walking often you are reducing this risk. It also speeds up recovery, improves healing, and decreases pain. If you are unable to 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 laparoscopic gastric sleeve, the incisions must be kept clean using only soap and water. Keep if fully covered with thick gauze and bandage tape. Once the wound begins to scab and completely close, 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, patients will need to wait at least six weeks.
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**
After surgery, patients generally spend 1 to 2 days recovering in the hospital. The Enhanced Recovery (ERAS) protocol in the setting of gastric sleeve may shorten the hospital stay (1 day).
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 surgeons 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. The 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 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 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
Months 6 thru 12 (1 year) – Stabilization
Now that your 2 months post-op, you may see an increase in energy and mood continues to stabilize. Your post-op diet should be integrating 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 try 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 weight loss timeline long-term.
Most patients will lose most of their 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 layout 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.
The first one and half years after surgery are a crucial time. It is a must to 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 we receive is whether the stomach will stretch postoperatively? Learn more about stomach stretching after gastric sleeve surgery.
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 patients. Follow the advice of your primary care physician and/or bariatric surgeon.
How Gastric Sleeve Surgery Works
The gastric sleeve is purely restrictive, meaning it restricts the amount of food eaten by reducing stomach volume which creates a fuller feeling and limiting how much food you can eat at one time.
Here are some of the most important tips when it comes to gastric sleeve recovery.
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