What to Expect After Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Post-Surgery Pain and Long-Term Weight Loss
Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a popular weight-loss procedure that involves the removal of a significant portion of the stomach to create a “sleeve” or a small stomach pouch roughly the size of a banana. This procedure not only restricts the amount of food one can eat but also prompts hormonal changes to assist with weight loss. Those considering this surgery often have questions about the postoperative experience and long-term weight loss expectations. Here’s what research and clinical outcomes indicate.
Immediate Post-Surgery Experience
After the procedure, it’s common for patients to experience pain at the incision sites and within the abdomen, which is typically managed with pain medication. The level of postoperative pain varies from person to person but is generally manageable with the prescribed pain relief. Patients may also experience discomfort due to the gas used to inflate the abdomen during surgery.
The initial recovery period for a gastric sleeve is usually short. Most individuals stay in the hospital for 1-2 (or 5 days in our Bangkok Hospital) days after surgery. During this time, medical staff will monitor recovery and provide guidance on managing pain and beginning the postoperative diet.
Patients are required to adhere to a liquid diet immediately after surgery, progressing to pureed foods, and then to solid foods over several weeks. This graduated diet is essential to allow the newly formed stomach pouch to heal.
Long-Term Weight Loss
Weight Loss Expectations:
Studies show that most patients lose weight rapidly during the first six months post-surgery. On average, patients may lose 50% of their excess weight in the first year and 70% by the second year. Long-term studies reveal that many maintain a majority of this weight loss for 10 years or more.
In addition to weight loss, gastric sleeve surgery has been associated with improvements in various obesity-related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. The remission rates for type 2 diabetes post-gastric sleeve are particularly significant, with a large percentage of patients experiencing an improvement in blood glucose levels.
The reduction in stomach size and changes in gut hormones can also lead to nutritional deficiencies. Long-term patients may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements and have regular check-ups to monitor their nutritional status.
Psychological and Behavioral Adjustments:
Weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery is not solely due to the physical restrictions of the smaller stomach size. Success is also influenced by the patient’s ability to make lasting lifestyle changes, including adhering to a balanced diet and regular exercise. Psychological support and counseling may be beneficial for patients adjusting to changes in their eating habits and body image.
Risks and Complications
While the procedure is generally considered safe, there are risks and complications associated with any surgery. These can include leakage at the staple line, blood clots, and infection. Long-term risks specific to gastric sleeve include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and the potential need for a revision surgery if weight loss is not adequate or if there are complications.
Gastric sleeve surgery offers a substantial opportunity for individuals with obesity to lose weight and reduce the severity of co-morbid conditions. The immediate post-surgery pain is typically short-lived and manageable. In the long term, substantial weight loss can be anticipated, although this requires a committed approach to lifestyle changes and medical follow-up to mitigate the risks of complications and nutritional deficiencies. As with any medical procedure, those considering gastric sleeve surgery should discuss the potential benefits and risks with a qualified healthcare professional to make an informed decision.