Weight loss happens fast after gastric sleeve surgery:
- Month 3: About 1/3 of excess weight is gone
- Month 6: About half of the excess weight is gone
- Month 12: Up to 70% of excess weight is gone
Most patients reach a plateau around the one to two-year mark. Patients who eat and exercise right are usually able to keep the weight off or lose even more.
But many patients let their dedication slip and regain some weight. This is due to the stomach stretching over time, which is usually caused by overeating.
By 5 years after surgery, the average patient has kept off over half of their excess weight. Successful patients avoid weight regain by:
- Working closely with their surgeon’s dietitian or nutritionist
- Using a personal trainer
- Attending in-person or online support groups at least twice per month
- Keeping a food journal
- Having the support of family and friends
- Maintaining motivation and dedication
Gastric Sleeve Weight Loss Gastric Sleeve Results in Health Benefits from Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Many health-related issues can be improved or “cured” following surgery
Navigate the following graphic to see how gastric sleeve can improve your health, or scroll down to learn about gastric sleeve results for the average patient.
Gastric sleeve results in complete “resolution” of many obesity-related health problems. Patients who aren’t cured usually experience a noticeable improvement.
Following is a list of conditions known to be cured or improved by gastric sleeve surgery, ordered by percent of patients helped.
Health improvement results of gastric sleeve surgery also include:
- Quality of life improvements: 93% of patients
- Mortality Reduction/Life Expectancy (5-year mortality): 89% lower risk of death
- Cardiovascular disease: significant improvement
- Depression: Improvement documented but no aggregate data available
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Improvement documented but no sleeve-specific percentages available
- Pseudotumor cerebri: Improvement documented but no sleeve-specific percentages available
Gastric sleeve weight loss improves joint health. For every pound of weight lost, there is a 4 pound reduction in pressure on the knee. This improves mobility and reduces pain in the knees.
Risk rates were even further reduced for obesity-related cancers, including:
- Colon cancer
- Postmenopausal breast cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
Lifestyle Changes Necessary for Gastric Sleeve Surgery
If you choose to undergo gastric sleeve surgery, you’ll have to commit to a healthier lifestyle.
Lifestyle changes before and after gastric sleeve surgery are crucial to your success in losing weight and keeping it off. Start living as if you’ve had the surgery at least 3 months in advance.
Begin eating for health and not just flavor and pleasure – Your smaller stomach after surgery will prevent your body from processing as much food as you’re used to. This is great for weight loss but bad for getting the nutrition your body needs to function properly. If you fill up with junk food and don’t get the nutrients you need the following surgery, you’ll risk suffering from one of the many horrible effects of malnutrition. See our Top 5 Long-Term Bariatric Diet Success Factors for more information.
Eat protein, protein, and more protein – Protein is essential for weight loss as it helps you to feel full sooner and for a longer period of time. It will also help you preserve muscle during your rapid weight loss following surgery.
Eat slowly, chew each bite and watch the portion sizes – The feeling of satiety (fullness) takes 20 to 30 minutes to reach your brain. Eating slowly and chewing thoroughly helps you to stay in touch with your body so you don’t overeat and stretch your new stomach/pouch. Practicing this while preparing for weight loss surgery will help you lose weight.
Start taking a multivitamin – Since bariatric patients don’t absorb nutrients as well due to changes in the digestive system and from consuming less food, you’ll need to take supplements after surgery. Start building that into your routine now… talk with your doctor about which multivitamins they recommend.
Don’t drink anything with your meals – Following surgery, you’ll need to wait at least an hour after meals before you drink anything. Liquids can flush food through your smaller post-op stomach causing you to feel hungry sooner and leading to weight regain.
In addition, after surgery, you will not have as much space in your stomach for food and fluids and you can end up dehydrated or malnourished if you don’t eat and drink separately. This step is very important, especially early after recovery when you are still healing.
Ditch the sugary beverages and drink more water – Provided you don’t have any fluid restrictions, start drinking 64 oz of water or more per day.
Careful with the coffee – Coffee in small amounts is fine but eliminate the unhealthy calories that come from sugar and cream. To ease the transition, high-caffeine tea with a small amount of honey may be a good alternative.
Stop drinking alcohol – Due to the changes to your digestive system after surgery, alcohol will have a much different effect on your body. It will be much easier for you to become intoxicated meaning you’ll be more likely to give into food cravings. Alcohol after surgery can also cause your blood sugar to go haywire resulting in weight regain and will put you at a higher risk of several health problems, some of which are severe.
Exercise just a little bit more – Start slow, do something you enjoy, just start moving. Ideally, you can tolerate moving for up to 20 to 30 minutes each day. This will reduce the risk of complications during surgery, assist with weight loss before surgery and get you into a habit that will lead to long-term weight loss.
Stop smoking – Smoking increases the risk of blood clots during surgery up to 6 weeks following your last cigarette. If you currently use tobacco, consider entering a tobacco cessation program or starting a nicotine replacement regimen that may include patches or gum.
Start attending in-person support group meetings – The importance of hearing other patients’ real-world experiences cannot be understated. Other patients will give you first-hand insights that your surgical team may not be able to provide directly and will let you build relationships that will continue to help you succeed following surgery. Your surgeon can provide details about how to find a local bariatric surgery support group.
Your New Diet after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Your diet before and after gastric sleeve surgery will be a major factor in how much weight you lose. Strictly following recommended diets and avoiding unhealthy foods is the best way to ensure long-term weight loss after surgery. Prepare for surgery and be ready to commit to long-term dietary changes:
Pre-op diet starts 3+ weeks before surgery
Post-op diet lasts from 3 days to 4 weeks with a gradual transition from clear liquids to solid foods
- Primarily healthy meals with limited snacking
- 60+ grams of protein per day
- 2+ liters of low-calorie fluids per day
- Strict vitamin regimen
- See the following pages for dietary guidelines before and after surgery:
- Gastric Sleeve Diet – Complete Patient Guide
- Gastric Sleeve Vitamins & Supplements
Changes in Brain Function after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
Your brain may function better after surgery
You will be less hungry after surgery, but it won’t fix food addiction
In addition to the many physical benefits following gastric sleeve, one important organ often goes overlooked: the brain.
This organ consumes 20% of our energy and impacts our cognition, executive function, and moods. Gastric sleeve surgery will affect how it works.
Multiple studies suggest that obesity is linked to cognitive decline. Links to dementia and an earlier onset of symptoms have been established. Other studies suggest that short term memory and attention deficits impair the population.
- Hormone Regulation
Gastric sleeve surgery can go a long way toward improving the delicate balance between brain function and hormones. Hormones play a vital role in regulating hunger, mood, and a variety of other health factors.
When your stomach is empty, it secretes a hormone called ghrelin into your bloodstream. This causes your brain to generate hunger impulses.
After you eat, the amount of secreted ghrelin drops then slowly rises until your next meal. Since your stomach will be so much smaller after gastric sleeve surgery, the amount of ghrelin it secretes may also go down.
Obesity also contributes to excess hormones that include estrogen. Following gastric sleeve surgery and weight loss, estrogen levels may decrease. More balanced testosterone to estrogen ratio may lead to improved energy, mood and sex drive for males and females alike.
- Food Addiction
You may have food addiction if your desire for food takes priority over other important parts of your life, such as:
- Personal health
- Your appearance
Avoiding obesity-related health issues like hypertension, sleep apnea, or diabetes
Changes in Your Relationships after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- Your relationships may change the quality of sex life can improve
- Relationships after gastric sleeve surgery may improve or get worse, depending on the relationship.
Exercise after Gastric Sleeve Surgery
- You should walk daily after surgery
- You must establish a consistent workout routine after surgery
- It is important to exercise before and after gastric sleeve surgery.
Exercise is almost as important as your diet when it comes to long-term success following gastric sleeve surgery:
- Patients who exercise regularly lose more weight over the long-term
- Physical and mental health benefits are incredible
- To help you stay on track, block out time to exercise at the same times on the same days of the week.
There should be 3 main goals of your exercise routine:
- Endurance – walking, stationary bike, and especially swimming
- Flexibility – a good stretching routine. Yoga is best since it incorporates proper breathing and uses your own body weight to build strength
- Strength – exercise balls, weights, and yoga
Recognize that your ultimate goal is NOT to exercise like a young, lean person. Not only will this make your goals feel more achievable, but it’s simply not necessary.
In short, you need to stick to a routine, but you don’t need to win Cross-Fit Trainee of the Year to achieve and maintain a normal BMI.
We know these changes won’t be easy, which is why you’re starting early. Be patient with yourself… practice self-management and forgiveness. As you slowly start changing your routine throughout the weeks and months spent preparing for weight loss surgery, the adjustments will become easier and easier.