The benefits and goals of gastric sleeve surgery are an improvement of overall health. Most patient’s recovery takes about 3-4 weeks with others showing impressive improvements as early as one week. The most important thing to do after surgery is to follow your doctor’s instructions to a tee. While this seems like a no-brainer, many patients tend to follow the instructions that they think are meaningful and disregard the ones that may not like or feel they don’t apply to them.
In addition to that, many patients do not keep all of their follow-up appointments. If they are feeling good and their wound is healing well, an appointment may seem like an unnecessary expense and waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your physician may need to do a follow-up blood work, look for signs of infection, adjust your medications if necessary or they may simply want to see how well you are progressing while ensuring your condition is responding well to the surgery.
After the gastric sleeve procedure, patients go home usually in about one to two days, and they are on their own without someone to monitor their progress or behavior. Which is why a procedure like this is not recommended for patients who have a history of smoking, alcohol or drug abuse or who present other medical conditions that increase the risks associated with surgery.
For instance, failure to cease tobacco, alcohol or drugs use or refusing to comply with medical treatment of obesity such as sticking to a healthy diet before and after surgery increases risks pre and post-surgery complications – thus increasing the length of recovery time. Recovery time is dependent on how well patients observe their physician’s instructions such as heavy lifting and activity restrictions for about 3-4 weeks after surgery, following a liquid diet during the first week after surgery, before moving on to soft food than regular food in the coming weeks, staying active during the first four weeks after surgery with walking and light activities. By doing this, individuals can expect to return to normal activity levels including exercising after 4 – 6 weeks.
Patients who find exercising challenging a few weeks after surgery can enter into various physical therapies such as aquatic therapy to facilitate maximum mobility – an essential part of speedy recovery. Individuals may experience complications and discomforts differently contingent on their age, overall health, medical history, and tolerance for specific medications, or therapies. While the complications of surgery are more severe but also infrequent than side effects, recovering patients must contact their doctor as soon as they experience the following postoperative symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Deep vein thrombosis where blood clots can break free and clog an artery to the heart, leading to heart failure.
- Bleeding loss the site of surgery that may require transfusion
- Wound infections that can delay healing and most probably spread to adjacent organs and tissues through the blood
- Persistent stomach pain
- Chest or shoulder pain