Gastric sleeve surgery is a type of weight loss surgery that involves removing most of your stomach and leaving a small, banana-shaped sleeve. This surgery can help you lose excess weight and improve your health, but it also requires careful preparation and commitment. In this blog post, we will explain what you need to do before gastric sleeve surgery.
Meeting the Eligibility Criteria Before Gastric Sleeve
Gastric sleeve surgery is not for everyone who is overweight or obese. You need to meet certain criteria to qualify for this surgery, such as:
- Having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or 35 to 39.9 with a serious weight-related health problem, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea
- Having tried to lose weight by improving your diet and exercise habits without success
- Being willing to make permanent lifestyle changes to maintain your weight loss
- Being committed to follow-up visits with your bariatric surgery team and other health care providers
- Having no medical conditions that would make the surgery unsafe or ineffective for you
Your doctor will evaluate your medical history, physical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, psychological assessment, and nutritional counseling to determine if you are a good candidate for gastric sleeve surgery. You may also need to undergo a sleep study to check for sleep apnea, a common condition among people with obesity that can increase the risk of complications during and after gastric sleeve surgery.
Following a Pre-Surgery Diet
Before you have gastric sleeve surgery, you need to follow a pre-surgery diet that is designed to help you lose weight, reduce the size of your liver, and lower the risk of complications during surgery. The pre-surgery diet may start as soon as you are cleared for the procedure and may last for two to four weeks, depending on your doctor’s instructions.
The pre-surgery diet is usually a low-calorie, high-protein, and low-carbohydrate diet that consists of:
- Protein shakes or bars that provide about 60 to 80 grams of protein per day
- Clear liquids, such as water, broth, sugar-free drinks, and sugar-free popsicles
- Non-starchy vegetables, such as lettuce, spinach, cucumber, celery, and zucchini
- Lean meats, such as chicken, turkey, fish, and eggs
- Low-fat dairy products, such as skim milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts
The pre-surgery diet may vary from person to person, depending on your weight, health, and goals. Your doctor and dietitian will provide you with a specific meal plan and guidelines to follow. Some general tips to follow the pre-surgery diet are:
- Eat three small meals and one or two snacks per day
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and sugary drinks
- Avoid fried, fatty, spicy, and sugary foods
- Avoid bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, and other starchy foods
- Avoid fruits, juices, and dried fruits
- Avoid nuts, seeds, popcorn, and other foods that may cause blockage or irritation in your stomach
- Take vitamin and mineral supplements as prescribed by your doctor
- Chew your food well and eat slowly
- Stop eating when you feel full and do not overeat
Following the pre-surgery diet can help you lose weight, reduce the size of your liver, and lower the risk of complications during surgery. It can also help you get used to the new way of eating that you will need to adopt after surgery.
Preparing for the Surgery Day
On the day of your gastric sleeve surgery, you will need to follow some instructions to ensure a safe and successful procedure. These instructions may include:
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery
- Take your medications as instructed by your doctor, but avoid aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements that may increase bleeding
- Shower with antibacterial soap the night before and the morning of surgery
- Wear loose and comfortable clothing and leave your jewelry, valuables, and contact lenses at home
- Arrive at the hospital at least two hours before your scheduled surgery time
- Bring your insurance card, identification, and any paperwork that you need to complete
Once you arrive at the hospital, you will be checked in and taken to a pre-operative room where you will change into a hospital gown. A nurse will check your vital signs, place an IV in your arm, and give you fluids and medications. You may also be given a shot of blood-thinning medication to prevent blood clots. Your anesthesiologist and surgical team will greet you and review the surgery with you. You may need to sign additional consent forms at this time. Finally, you will be taken to the operating room where you will be given medication to put you to sleep.
Gastric sleeve surgery is usually performed laparoscopically, which means that the surgeon makes small incisions in your abdomen and inserts special instruments to remove about 80% of your stomach. The remaining part of your stomach is shaped like a banana or a sleeve. The surgery takes about 60 to 90 minutes and you may need to stay in the hospital for one or two days.
Understanding the Risks and Benefits
As with any major surgery, gastric sleeve surgery has some potential risks and complications, both in the short term and long term. Some of the possible risks include:
- Excessive bleeding
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
- Blood clots
- Lung or breathing problems
- Leaks from the cut edge of the stomach
- Gastrointestinal obstruction
- Gastroesophageal reflux
- Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
- Stricture or narrowing of the sleeve
The risk of complications depends on several factors, such as your age, weight, health, and surgical technique. Your doctor will discuss the possible risks and complications with you before the surgery and monitor you closely after the surgery. You can also reduce the risk of complications by following your doctor’s instructions, taking your medications, and reporting any signs of infection, bleeding, or other problems.
Gastric sleeve surgery can help you lose up to 60% of your excess body weight within one to two years. It can also improve or resolve many weight-related health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infertility. Gastric sleeve surgery may also reduce your hunger and appetite by lowering the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger.
Gastric sleeve surgery can help you achieve your health and wellness goals, but it also requires lifelong commitment and follow-up. You will need to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, take vitamin and mineral supplements, and attend support groups and counseling sessions to maintain your weight loss and prevent complications.
Comparing with Other Weight Loss Surgeries
Gastric sleeve surgery is one of the most commonly performed types of weight loss surgery, but it is not the only option. Other types of weight loss surgery include:
- Gastric bypass: This surgery involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting it to the lower part of the small intestine. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and the amount of calories and nutrients you can absorb. Gastric bypass is more effective than gastric sleeve for weight loss, but it also has more risks and complications.
- Adjustable gastric band: This surgery involves placing a silicone band around the upper part of the stomach, creating a small pouch. The band can be tightened or loosened by injecting or removing saline through a port under your skin. This controls the amount of food you can eat and the speed of digestion. Unlike gastric sleeve, this surgery is reversible and does not affect your intestines.
- Biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch: This surgery involves removing most of your stomach and bypassing most of your small intestine. This reduces the amount of food you can eat and the amount of calories and nutrients you can absorb. This surgery is more effective than gastric sleeve for weight loss, but it also has more risks and complications.
Each type of weight loss surgery has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your doctor will help you choose the best option for you based on your weight, health, and goals.
Gastric sleeve surgery is a safe and effective weight loss surgery that can help you lose excess weight and improve your health. However, it is not a quick fix or a magic solution. You need to be prepared for the surgery and committed to the lifestyle changes that are necessary for your long-term success. If you are interested in gastric sleeve surgery or have any questions, please contact our bariatric surgery team or your primary care provider for more information.