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A male jogger takes steps to live a healthy lifestyle after undergoing weight-loss surgery.

Gastric sleeve surgery

A gastric sleeve procedure, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a surgical weight loss treatment. During this procedure, a surgeon removes a large portion of the stomach, leaving a smaller, sleeve-shaped section behind. This newly formed stomach is significantly smaller in size, which restricts the amount of food it can hold. As a result, individuals who undergo gastric sleeve surgery experience reduced food intake and feel fuller faster, leading to weight loss.

The procedure is typically performed laparoscopically, which involves making small incisions and using a camera and specialized surgical instruments. Gastric sleeve surgery is considered a permanent and irreversible weight loss solution because the removed portion of the stomach is not reattached.

One of the primary mechanisms of weight loss with the gastric sleeve procedure is the reduction in the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, as the part of the stomach responsible for producing it is removed. This helps control appetite and cravings.

Gastric sleeve surgery is often recommended for individuals with obesity who have not achieved significant weight loss through diet and exercise alone. It can lead to substantial weight loss and improvements in weight-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.

The recovery process for a gastric sleeve procedure

  • After the surgery, you will typically spend one to two days in the hospital for observation. During this time, medical professionals will monitor your condition, ensure you are tolerating liquids, and manage any pain or discomfort.
  • In the immediate post-operative period, you will be on a strict liquid diet. This phase may last for a week or more, and it is essential to stay hydrated and follow the recommended nutritional guidelines.
  • After the liquid diet phase, you will gradually transition to soft foods. This typically begins about two to three weeks after surgery. Foods like yogurt, pureed vegetables, and mashed potatoes are common choices during this phase.
  • Over the next few months, your diet will progress to include regular solid foods. It's crucial to focus on nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods and avoid high-sugar and high-fat options.
  • Along with dietary changes, you will need to adopt a healthier lifestyle, which includes regular physical activity and portion control. Your surgeon and dietitian will provide guidance on creating a sustainable long-term plan for healthy living.
  •  You will have several follow-up appointments with your surgeon and healthcare team to monitor your progress, address any concerns, and make adjustments to your diet or medications as needed.
  • You may be required to take nutritional supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, to prevent deficiencies since the smaller stomach may not absorb nutrients as efficiently.
  • Adjusting to the physical and emotional changes post-surgery is an essential part of recovery. Many individuals find it helpful to seek support from a therapist or support group to address any psychological challenges.
  • Weight loss is typically gradual and continues over several months to a year or more. The rate of weight loss varies among individuals.
  • Some individuals may experience issues like nausea, vomiting, or food intolerance during the recovery process. It's crucial to communicate any problems with your healthcare team.
  • Gastric sleeve surgery requires a lifelong commitment to dietary and lifestyle changes to maintain weight loss and overall health.


The recovery process can vary from person to person, so it's essential to follow your surgeon's specific instructions and attend all recommended follow-up appointments. Your healthcare team will provide personalized guidance to help you achieve your weight loss and health goals after gastric sleeve surgery.

Benefits of gastric sleeve surgery

Most patients can expect to lose 40 to 50 percent of excess body weight over six to 12 months. During vertical sleeve surgery, the main part of the stomach, which produces the hormones that stimulate hunger, is removed. This means that while the stomach is reduced in size and the volume of food eaten is limited, the stomach still functions normally. Other benefits of gastric sleeve include:

  • Improvement in health conditions: Weight loss resulting from gastric sleeve surgery can lead to the improvement or resolution of obesity-related health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.
  • Reduced hunger: Removal of a portion of the stomach reduces the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping patients control their appetite and reduce cravings.
  • No foreign objects: Unlike some other weight loss surgeries, such as gastric bands, gastric sleeve surgery does not involve implanting foreign objects in the body.
  • Short hospital stay: Patients usually have a relatively short hospital stay and a quicker recovery compared to some other weight loss surgeries.


Things to consider and risks for gastric sleeve surgery

The risks of problems with the vertical sleeve are low but include blockages in the sleeve or post-operative leaks along the staple line. Because this surgery doesn’t provide any component of gastric bypass, some patients may experience a disappointing level of weight loss or weight regain over time. The laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy could be converted to a gastric bypass if necessary, but it is unlikely. The gastric sleeve procedure is not reversible because part of the stomach is permanently removed. Other risks associated with gastric sleeve include:


What is a diet plan to follow after gastric sleeve?

A post-gastric sleeve surgery diet plan is essential for successful weight loss and the overall well-being of the patient. It's important to follow your surgeon's recommendations, as individual dietary plans may vary based on your specific needs and progress. However, here's a general outline of the diet phases commonly recommended after gastric sleeve surgery:

Phase 1: Liquid Diet (Days 1-14)

During the initial two weeks after surgery, your diet will consist primarily of clear liquids and high-protein shakes. The goal is to allow your stomach to heal without putting undue stress on it.

  • Clear liquids: Clear broths, water, sugar-free gelatin, and herbal teas without caffeine.
  • Protein shakes: High-quality protein shakes prescribed by your healthcare provider to meet your protein requirements.


Phase 2: Pureed Diet (Weeks 2-3)

In this phase, you will transition from liquids to pureed or blended foods. The texture should be smooth and easy to swallow.

  • Pureed foods: Mashed potatoes, smooth yogurt, pureed vegetables, and blended soups.
  • Protein sources: Include lean, soft proteins like ground turkey, tofu, and cottage cheese.


Phase 3: Soft Diet (Weeks 4-6)

The soft diet phase allows you to introduce soft, easily chewable foods.

  • Soft foods: Scrambled eggs, canned fruits in natural juices, oatmeal, and well-cooked vegetables.
  • Proteins: Continue incorporating soft, lean proteins.


Phase 4: Transition to Regular Diet (Weeks 7 and Beyond)

Around week 7, you can start reintroducing solid foods, but it's important to continue focusing on high-protein, nutrient-dense options.

  • Regular foods: Gradually reintroduce whole grains, lean meats, and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Chew thoroughly: Remember to chew your food thoroughly and eat slowly to prevent discomfort or vomiting.


General food guidelines to follow post-gastric sleeve:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Avoid sugary or carbonated beverages.
  • Protein is essential for muscle maintenance and healing. Aim to meet your daily protein requirements, usually around 60-80 grams per day, with your healthcare provider's guidance.
  • Even after the surgery, it's crucial to eat small, frequent meals and avoid overeating.
  • Avoid sugary and high-fat foods because they can lead to discomfort and may hinder weight loss progress.
  • Focus on structured meals rather than constant snacking.
  • Take prescribed vitamins and mineral supplements to prevent deficiencies.
  • Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, and stop eating when you're satisfied.
  • Drinking through straws can introduce excess air into your stomach, potentially causing discomfort.
  • Incorporate regular physical activity as recommended by your healthcare team to support weight loss and overall health.

Always consult with your surgeon or a registered dietitian who specializes in bariatric nutrition for personalized guidance. They can help you create a diet plan tailored to your specific needs and ensure you're getting the right nutrients for a successful recovery and long-term weight management.

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