Every year, thousands of people opt for gastric sleeve surgery in order to permanently lose weight. This procedure—which reduces the size of the stomach roughly to the shape of a banana—is an alternative to gastric bypass surgery, which sends food directly to the large intestine, thus “bypassing” the stomach.
Instead, gastric sleeve patients feel full with only a portion of the food they previously needed to be satisfied, because their stomach is smaller.
According to WebMD, gastric sleeve surgery is generally performed on people whose weight is more than 100 pounds over their ideal weight and is suited to people who may not be good candidates for gastric bypass.
But the transition through post-operative recovery is just as important following both procedures. For example, a well-monitored path is required from an all- clear liquid diet (such as broths), to puréed food, shakes, and smoothies, and, finally, to soft foods, before the patient can return to a normal eating regimen.
After the doctor has determined that the patient is ready to resume eating solid foods, several guidelines are followed—on a permanent basis—so that the patient can eat appropriately to accommodate the structural changes made in the digestive tract. For example, the doctor may tell them to:
- Restrict their intake of sugar, soda, excessive fatty foods, and other high-calorie products,
focusing instead on healthier choices of lean meats and cooked vegetables.
- Stay well-hydrated by drinking water, rather than sweet or caffeinated beverages, regularly.
- Eat three smaller meals a day, as opposed to one or two larger ones, as the digestive process is now equipped to handle only smaller portions of food.
- Take smaller bites of food, and avoid hard-to-chew food choices.
- Keep from using straws, as the increased air intake can cause problems.
- Start a steady program of moderate exercise that helps keep the weight off.
Overall, patients are counseled to readjust their thinking about eating, essentially re-programming their dietary habits. In addition to following the guidelines presented above, a surgeon may give other instructions as well. It is critical that the patient consult with the entire wellness care team in order to make a plan for future eating habits, beginning with day one.
Gastric sleeve surgery is a life-changing procedure. Most patients lose significant amounts of weight over the months that follow, but the idea is to maintain that weight reduction and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. If you’re considering it, your healthcare provider can advise you on the potential risks and benefits from taking this big step.
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