Before and After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

We all know that being overweight can lead to an increased risk of health conditions, such as type II diabetes and high blood pressure, but for many, losing weight through diet and exercise alone is not enough. Therefore, more people are turning to bariatric (weight-loss) surgery to lose excess weight and improve their health.

Although over 6000 bariatric surgeries are performed each year, the decision to undergo this operation can be daunting.

To shed light on what the process entails, we explore what to expect before and after gastric sleeve surgery.


What is gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery permanently removes up to 75 per cent of your stomach.

The gastric sleeve also removes the part of your stomach that produces the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin, which will significantly reduce your appetite.


How do you qualify for gastric sleeve surgery?

You may qualify for gastric sleeve surgery if you have a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 40 or more or have a BMI of 35 and at least one significant obesity-related health condition, such as type II diabetes or high blood pressure.

You will also need to be medically fit enough to undergo a general anaesthetic. You will also be required to demonstrate that you have already attempted weight loss through diet and exercise.


Before gastric sleeve surgery

Once you are approved to undergo gastric sleeve surgery, you will be encouraged to make healthy changes to your diet and moderately increase your physical activity levels to prepare you for life after surgery.

On the day of your operation, you will have time to ask your surgeon any final questions before preparation for surgery begins. Your healthcare team will monitor your vital signs, including oxygen levels and heart rate, before administering general anaesthesia.


What happens during gastric sleeve surgery?

While under general sedation, the surgeon will make two to five small incisions in your stomach. You will usually have two cuts under the breastbone and three across the abdomen; each incision will be approximately 2-3 cm in length.

The surgeon will then insert a laparoscope, a thin telescope with a light and camera lens attached to one end through the incisions and use surgical instruments to remove up to 75 per cent of your stomach.

Using surgical staples, the surgeon will join the remaining sections of your stomach to create a long sleeve-shaped tube that forms your new stomach. It will be no bigger than about the size of a banana.

The surgeon will then retract the laparoscope and surgical tools and close the incisions. The entire procedure should take between 60 and 90 minutes.


After gastric sleeve surgery

After you wake from the general anaesthesia, your healthcare team will monitor you for any complications.

You will remain in the hospital for three nights; during this time, you will be given pain medication to help manage any soreness you feel.

Once your surgeon feels you are ready for discharge, you will need someone to drive you home where your recovery can continue.


How painful is a gastric sleeve?

As a result of the abdominal incisions, you will likely feel some soreness and pain in this area while the muscle fibres heal.

Your healthcare team will help provide pain management options for you during this time.

You will need to limit your movement during your initial recovery as bending over or twisting the torso could affect your wound and cause discomfort.


What are the potential complications of gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery is incredibly safe and highly successful; however, as with any operation, there are potential complications.

Leaking from the edge of the stomach, infection, blood clots, or excessive bleeding are potential side-effects of gastric sleeve surgery.

As you dramatically reduce your food intake, your risk of developing malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies will increase in the longer term.


How long does it take to recover from gastric sleeve surgery?

Once discharged from the hospital, you will be unable to drive for 2-3 days following surgery and will likely require some assistance with household tasks for the first couple of weeks to prevent straining your wound.

Most people can typically return to work within a couple of weeks.

You will need to follow a strict postoperative diet for six weeks before recommencing solid food.


What changes changes will I need to make to my diet and lifestyle

For your stomach to recover, you will need to follow a strict postoperative diet for at least six weeks before recommencing solid food.

You will only be able to consume smaller portions of food for the rest of your life and be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise.

You will need to take vitamins for life, including quarterly B12 injections, due to the risk of becoming deficient in various vitamins and minerals. Regular blood tests will also be required to help monitor your overall health.


How long will it take for me to see the results after gastric sleeve surgery

Most people lose between 60 and 70 per cent of their excess body weight within 12 to 18 months of the operation.


Weight loss treatment at Ramsay Health Care

Ramsay Health Care has a friendly and experienced team of specialists to help advise and guide you throughout your weight loss journey. If you decide weight loss surgery is for you, we will be there to provide tailored care and support to you every step of the way.

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