What Is Life Like After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

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Getting gastric sleeve surgery is a big decision. It requires going through an expensive inpatient procedure with significant recovery time. But for people who are severely obese, are starting to suffer from health problems related to their obesity, and have tried diet and exercise with no success, getting a bariatric procedure such as the gastric sleeve may be the best option they have.

Gastric sleeve surgery does not result in instant weight loss, like liposuction. Instead, it changes the shape of the stomach to lower hunger responses and reduce the amount of food that can be eaten at one time, resulting in lower caloric intake which in turn results in rapid weight loss.

Because of this, life after gastric surgery is an important topic to cover. So what is life after gastric surgery like?

Gastric Sleeve Recovery

Recovering from gastric sleeve surgery takes a little bit of time. Generally, the patient will stay overnight in the hospital and will spend a few days resting in bed. However, patients can resume a normal life after two weeks or less of recovery. Patients are instructed not to lift or move heavy objects until the doctor gives the OK to do so.

Generally, recovery is easy with few complications. The most common complaints patients have are abdominal pain, nausea, lack of appetite, and slight dizziness after surgery.

Post-Op Gastric Sleeve Diet

A big part of life after gastric surgery is the post-op diet that all patients are expected to follow. Because patients are required to follow a very strict diet for at least a month post-op, lifestyle changes that accommodate continued weight loss becomes easier. So what is this diet like?

This diet generally can be explained in four phases.

Phase 1: Clear Liquids

This phase lasts for a few days after surgery and has the patient do a clear liquid fast. Many patients will be instructed to do this fast before surgery, as well. The reason patients have to do this fast is because the digestive system is highly sensitive directly after surgery, and most patients will not be able to take in food without complications.

Patients are allowed to consume water, decaf tea, decaf coffee, thin broth, and approved electrolyte beverages. Although difficult, this phase does not last very long.

Phase 2: Pureed Foods

Patients are allowed to consume certain foods that have been pureed in a blender. Because of this, patients are requested to invest in a blender capable of pureeing food. This phase lasts around two weeks.

The doctor will provide a list of foods allowed in this phase, but generally, certain fruits, vegetables, meats, and starches can be pureed and eaten in this phase. Patients will also be given protein shakes to help them meet protein goals.

Phase 3: Soft Foods

Patients can move on from pureed foods that must be imbibed to soft foods that can be eaten without much chewing or digestion. Foods like scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, ground meats, and other soft foods can be consumed at this stage. This phase generally lasts another two weeks after the end of the second phase.

Phase 4: Reintroduction

This phase requires input from the doctor, and consists of adding more and more foods slowly over time.

Some foods can be introduced at this stage, such as lean meats and certain vegetables. Eventually, patients will be able to eat mostly whole foods without any complications.

Life After Gastric Sleeve Surgery


After gastric sleeve surgery, patients are instructed not to try to go back to their old eating habits. The point of the surgery was to make it much harder to eat as they used to, and going back to old eating habits will at best cause weight gain, and at worst cause serious complications.


Most patients can expect to lose between 2-4 lbs (0.9-1.8kg) every week for about 6-12 months, with weight loss slowing down gradually until a plateau is hit. After the plateau, patients are usually recommended to add exercise to their health regimen. However, patients can exercise before the six-month mark as instructed by their doctor.

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