Gastric sleeve surgery is by far the most popular bariatric procedure today and is growing exponentially year after year. It is important to understand life after gastric sleeve surgery, to mentally and physically prepare for your future.
What is Life Like After Gastric Sleeve?
Life changes drastically after gastric sleeve surgery. Confidence, compliments, and weight loss all come pouring in at once. As great as you may feel, it’s important to know how the body changes with a new, smaller stomach. Hunger can be an extreme hurdle before surgery – which is why dieting methods can be so difficult to follow. Contrary to pre-op, after surgery hunger can be difficult to even ‘feel’ or ‘notice’. The amount of food patients can eat at one time is significantly reduced.
First off, patients don’t produce Ghrelin (a hunger hormone) at the same rate as a normal person because 85% of the stomach was removed while undergoing gastric sleeve surgery. Because of the lack of hunger, patients generally know if they are hungry when their body begins feeling either tired or weak. This is why following a proper post-op diet and meal plan is important to keep your body healthy and happy.
Successful, long-term weight loss after gastric sleeve depends healthy nutrition and life style as well as patient’s adaptation to the procedure. You need to understand the expectations after surgery, and plan on being dedicated to the longevity of your health and wellness.
Year One: Life After Gastric Sleeve
In the first year after gastric sleeve, weight typically comes off regardless of what you eat or how much you eat. There is a reason why it’s called the “honeymoon” phase. It is still important to follow these healthy guidelines because they will set the stage for successful weight loss when the honeymoon period is over and it becomes more difficult to lose weight.
What Happens in the First Year After Gastric Sleeve?
- Patients can expect to lose weight weekly
- Energy and stamina are improving and the patient is feeling great
- Compliments come in and patients can really start feeling better about themselves
- Health is improving and obesity-related comorbidities start to resolve
- Food cravings become non-existent and when you do eat, there is little to no appetite
The first year gives patients the opportunity to choose to eat healthier foods and lead a healthier lifestyle. It’s important to create positive nutrition habits and explore new dishes and food groups to prepare yourself for the next few years.
Key takeaway: Develop positive nutrition habits
Year Two: Life After Gastric Sleeve
In the second year, weight loss begins to slow down and food cravings slightly increase. Your body becomes more adapted to the new sleeved stomach. With new habits in place, the second year of gastric sleeve surgery will have a much higher-chance to maintain losing weight.
Portion sizes may mildly increase although they are still insignificant compared to before gastric sleeve surgery.
Key takeaway: Create goals to improve your motivation.
Year Three: Life After Gastric Sleeve
At year three, success generally comes from patients environment, activity, and most importantly following the post-op diet. In order to continue moving forward into year 3 through 5, both exercise and nutrition are more important than ever.
Appetite cravings return even more than year two – yet patients generally do not have the full capacity to be hungry and have a fraction of cravings as pre-op. Portion sizes continue to grow and are about half as much as before gastric sleeve surgery.
Food addiction is extremely powerful, and it gets easier to regain weight every year.
Key Takeaway: Weigh yourself regularly and stay on track
Year Ten: Life After Gastric Sleeve
After ten years of post-op gastric sleeve surgery, it’s absolutely critical to follow the post-op diet day after day and form an exercise routine. Patients need to take it one day at a time and every day needs to be a conscious decision to eat well and be physically active.
At year ten and on, continued success comes entirely on how well you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Old habits are easy to return at this stage as your body has fully adapted to the new stomach size and almost completely balances out the nutrient deficiencies.
Key Takeaway: Every day make a conscious decision to eat healthy and be active
Post-Op Guidelines to Follow After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
There are a few basic guidelines to follow after gastric sleeve surgery. These include but are not limited to;
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water each day and start up a more active and healthy lifestyle.
- After surgery transition your diet at your own pace from liquids to solids.
- Always introduce a new food item one at a time, very slowly and mindfully.
- Find a good balance of food groups in your diet. Protein should be the main focus but you should also be sure to get a good variety of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, beans, and whole grains.
- Always limit sugar as much as possible, never exceed 25 grams sugar in a day.
- Find the right calorie level for your body: too many or too little calories can cause stalls and/or weight gain.
- Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day (about 5-6 times a day).
- Never more than 6 ounces at a time.
- For meals, try to follow these guidelines: 3 ounces lean meat, 1 TB fat (butter, olive oil, etc), 2 ounces to play with (fruit, vegetable, whole grain, beans).
Most of the post-op guidelines run into the long-term lifestyle after gastric sleeve surgery. Speak with your nutritionist for the best post-op diet plan and guidelines to follow.
Final Tips After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Remember, gastric sleeve surgery is an amazing tool if it’s used correctly and if patients fully understand how to develop a healthy relationship with food.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and create small goals that get you to your overall life goal.