While gastric sleeve surgery is a life-changing weight loss procedure, it is important to remember it is an invasive surgery where a part of the stomach is removed. Your body needs considerable time to recover, and during this period, you need to restrict your activities, follow a specific diet, and take certain medications. The recovery process is really important if you want to enjoy all the benefits of the surgery and minimize complications, and here, we detail all the necessary information.
What Activities Can You Engage In?
There is a range of activities you should avoid after the surgery:
- Avoid physical strenuous activities: you should avoid physical activities in general, especially in the first two weeks, but you absolutely need to avoid physically strenuous activities like moving around furniture, carrying heavy bags, etc.
- Avoid exercising: weight lifting is forbidden for three months after the surgery. You should avoid light exercise for a month, at a minimum.
- Do not bathe: before you freak out, we only mean in the initial two weeks post the gastric sleeve surgery.
- Take time off work: you need to take two weeks to three weeks, at a minimum, off from work if you can’t work remotely. You need to take even more time off if your job requires you to physically strain yourself.
On the other hand, there is a range of activities that are recommended:
- Sleep: sleep is an important part of the recovery from every bariatric surgery type. Make sure you get proper sleep every night.
- Undertake breathing exercises: gastric sleeve patients might experience breathing problems post-surgery, which is why doctors will instruct you how to undertake breathing exercises a number of times a day. It is important to follow their instructions.
- Support your belly before sudden movements: the region around your incision and your stomach at large will be very sensitive for weeks after surgery. And sudden movements, like during a sneeze, can cause you a lot of pain. Supporting it with a pillow or something is recommended.
What Diet Do You Need to Follow?
Because the gastric sleeve is a major surgery targeting your stomach, you’ll have to follow a special diet for at least three months after the surgery.
- The first two weeks after the surgery: for the first two weeks after the surgery, you won’t be able to eat anything. You can only drink liquids. This includes light soups, milk, and, obviously, water. At this stage, to get your proper daily need for protein, you need to drink protein shakes.
- Two weeks to a month after the surgery: after two weeks, your stomach will be strong enough to digest soft pureed foods. Your diet will ideally be fish, steamed, soft vegetables, and soup.
- A month to three months after the surgery: After a month, with proper recovery, your stomach will be able to handle soft solid foodstuff. You’ll be able to digest minced meat, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, etc. But to make sure it is safe, you must first check with your doctor before starting this phase.
- Three months to six months after the surgery: at this stage, you can return to a normal diet, but you need to be careful with what you eat, still. You should especially avoid spicy and crunchy food, as your stomach might still not handle them well. If a certain food causes you discomfort at this stage, you should avoid it.
- After six months: you’re free to fully return to your normal diet. Although, it is important to try to have a healthier lifestyle to make sure your excess weight loss journey proceeds smoothly.
What about Medication?
After sleeve gastrectomy, you need to take various medications for months after the surgery. This is an essential part of your recovery process. And as we touched on above, due to your inability to digest solid food for a period after the surgery, you need to crush and turn pills into power before taking them.
- Multivitamin and mineral supplements: due to severe limits on your diet, you’ll experience various and severe vitamin and mineral deficiencies following your surgery. This is why it is vital to take multivitamin and mineral supplements for at least until you’re able to digest solid foods again.
- Pain medicine: post-surgery, you should expect to feel pain for at least the first month after the surgery. Although it is at its worst during the first day after the gastric sleeve surgery as the anesthesia wears off, the pain might still cause you inconvenience. This is why the doctor will prescribe you pain medicines to take to reduce your discomfort, and you shouldn’t forget to take them.
- individualized, doctor-prescribed medication: depending on your body mass index, your health condition, how the surgery went, and many more variables, your doctor will prescribe individualized medicaments for you. It is essential to follow the doctor’s orders to the letter.
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