The Patient’s Perspective: A Journey with Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Today begins our blog series, “The Patient’s Perspective”, which takes you on the journey from choosing a bariatric surgery, and undergoing the procedure, to learning what life is like afterward. This week we’re talking about Gastric Sleeve surgery .
Weighing the “What Ifs”
One of the biggest hurdles to Gastric Sleeve surgery, and other bariatric procedures, is wondering how to pay for it. Deciding to pursue weight-loss surgery only to learn that insurance won’t cover it can be so frustrating. With or without coverage, you have options to ensure that you can afford weight loss surgery .
On an emotional level, worrying if you’ll like your “new” body can be frightening. It’s easy to believe that by losing weight you’ll suddenly feel as confident and desirable as the household names on TV, online, and in magazines. While it sounds counter-intuitive, weight-loss surgery isn’t just about losing weight; it’s about taking necessary steps to be your happiest, healthiest you. In fact, Gastric Sleeve surgery is a procedure that does not inhibit your ability to absorb nutrients from food, meaning you won’t have to add a lot of supplement pills to your diet.
Then there’s the biggest concern of all, “What if it doesn’t work?”. There is the possibility that the surgical results won’t meet your expectations, and patients can be shocked to find out another procedure is needed to achieve optimal weight-loss goals. Our team at Olde Del Mar Surgical have an excellent success rate with initial bariatric surgeries, and they are also highly skilled in the laparoscopic techniques used for weight loss surgery revision and conversion .
Choosing the Gastric Sleeve
After a consultation with your doctor, you may decide that the Gastric Sleeve (also called a “Sleeve Gastrectomy”) is right for you. A number of factors can guide this choice, such as:
- No required follow-ups for adjustments
- Less likelihood of needing vitamin supplements
- Fewer food restrictions
- Requires no foreign objects to remain inside your body
- 1–2 day hospital stay
- 2–4 week total recovery period (on average)
It is important to note that this restrictive weight-loss procedure cannot be reversed. While it does not require any device to be permanently inserted into your body, the Gastric Sleeve procedure detaches and removes approximately 85 percent of your existing stomach. The remaining sleeve (often described as the shape and size of a small banana) is securely shut with staples and other dissolvable closures. This reduced capacity means you’ll eat much less immediately, supporting your weight-loss efforts.
Dealing with the Surgery — Before, During and After
Before scheduling your procedure, you’re required to take a number of pre-op tests to ensure your body is healthy enough to undergo and recover from bariatric surgery. These include blood pressure and sugar tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), a cardiac stress test, and a check for the presence of ulcer-causing bacteria.
The Gastric Sleeve is an invasive procedure performed on the stomach which lies in the core of your abdomen. Because it is often obscured by the liver, you’ll begin a liquids-only “Liver Shrinking Diet” between five and 10 days prior to your procedure. During this pre-op diet, it is crucial to get at least 60 grams of protein per day while being cautious to minimize any liquids high in sugar and fat.
All Gastric Sleeve procedures performed at Olde Del Mar Surgical are laparoscopic — meaning five to six small incisions will be made strategically around your abdomen. Doctors Bhoyrul and Farinholt then insert a laparoscope (thin viewing tube with a small camera attached) and other tiny instruments into these small incisions to remove and secure parts of the stomach. A typical laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy with no complications takes about 90 minutes. You’re under general anesthesia for the entire process.
During your hospital stay, your bariatric team will monitor pain medications and make you as comfortable as possible. They’ll also insist that you get out of bed for short walks to ease stiffness and soreness, as well as prevent any post-op complications from too much bed rest. While recovering at home, you’ll stick to liquids for two weeks. A pureed food regimen is required for the next two weeks, followed by soft foods for another two weeks. By week six you’re ready for regular foods, having adjusted your portions and choices for your new stomach capacity. Nearly all Gastric Sleeve patients return to pre-surgery levels of activity within six weeks and some return to work as soon as one week after.
Living with the Gastric Sleeve
After your recovery period, you’ll find that you’re losing weight — likely faster than ever before. This is exciting and motivating, and it can also bring new challenges. “How can I be creative with meals ?”, “How do I shop for my evolving shape?”, “How do I get rid of this excess skin?”, and “How do I stop seeing my old body in the mirror?” are just a few of the questions you might face. Making a major life change, like bariatric surgery, requires tons of support emotionally and in daily decision-making. At Olde Del Mar Surgical, we provide numerous resources including patient mentoring , nutritional support , and a catalogue of patient stories .
Making the Call
You know your body and you know you’re ready for a change. To schedule your consultation, call (858) 457–4917. If you’re still considering your options or wondering what questions to ask your doctor, register for the FREE online bariatric seminar provided by the team at Olde Del Mar Surgical.