Thanks to its low complication-risk and impressive results, gastric sleeve surgery is becoming the preferred choice for reducing the growing problem of obesity.
Obesity, classed as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 30, affects almost 40 percent of American adults. A whopping 6.6 percent of the population is now morbidly obese, with a significant risk of one or more comorbidities - or obesity-related conditions.
Morbid obesity represents the most significant health threat to the United States in the foreseeable future. Surgery offers a safe, effective solution to this problem.
Although it's a quick procedure, gastric sleeve surgery involves removing 75 percent to 85 percent of the stomach. As such, preparing your body and mind for the operation is a complex process.
Here, we guide you through 10 things you need to know about preparing for gastric sleeve surgery.
1. Keep in Touch with Your Bariatric Specialist
While you are preparing for your procedure, it's important to keep in close communication with your bariatric specialist.
This will help you avoid any misunderstandings about what you should and shouldn't do before surgery. If you're uncertain about anything, ask.
We strongly recommend that you follow every instruction to the letter. Not doing so may affect your progress during and after surgery.
2. Stop Smoking
We know it's easier said than done, but it is important to stop smoking - both before and after gastric sleeve surgery.
If the thought of quitting altogether is too much to consider right now, you should do it at least a month before the procedure. This will give your body time to recover from the aggressive effects of smoking.
Plus, quitting 30 days before your operation might make it easier to continue as a non-smoker in the crucial post-op period and beyond.
3. Follow Your Preoperative Diet
Your bariatric specialist may or may not have given you a specific pre-op diet. This often depends on the center you've chosen - and on your current weight and health.
On the day before the procedure, most patients should not eat any solid food after 8 pm and no liquids after midnight.
Another recommendation is to start getting used to taking small sips and eating your food slower. Your gastric sleeve will force you to eat like this for at least the first few weeks, so getting this 'practice' in will help you prepare.
And, for advice on what to eat after your procedure, check out our post-surgery eating tips.
4. Cut Down on Alcohol
Alcohol is not as much of an issue as cigarettes. Our recommendation is to limit yourself to a glass of wine a day at most in the month before surgery.
You should then stop drinking at least a week before the procedure. This will help you avoid upsetting your stomach.
Cut down on alcohol after surgery as well. This is because alcoholic beverages are high in calories and pass through the gastric sleeve easily.
5. Mental Preparation
As part of your evaluation, you should have been declared mentally fit to go through the operation.
In addition, you should prepare yourself mentally. This includes making sure that you're fully aware of the pros and cons of gastric sleeve surgery. You should also have realistic expectations for results and have a clear idea of the specific goals you want to achieve post-op.
You may also find it helpful to see a therapist to support you through the process.
6. Increase Activity Levels
For many patients preparing for gastric sleeve surgery, it can be difficult to exercise because of physical limitations and health issues.
Any attempt to increase your activity levels helps your body and mind get used to being active.
This could be as little as standing up every half an hour to avoid sitting for long periods. These exercises for people with limited mobility are a great option too.
7. Share with Loved Ones
Another key part of the mental preparation of having gastric sleeve surgery is to share your plans with loved ones.
You may not want to tell some of your friends and family. But it's important to have some people in your life who can support you through the process.
Knowing more about the process will also help reassure your loved ones that the surgery is safe.
8. Stock Up on Groceries
As well as preparing yourself for surgery, you need to prepare your home.
This means stocking up on all the groceries you will need for when you return there after the procedure.
Bariatric specialists recommend different post-op diets. But it's likely that your bariatric pantry will need to be full of nourishing, healthy options.
This includes liquid foods like drinking yogurt and soup as well as whey protein powder, vitamins, and plenty of water.
9. Review Your Medications
Before and after gastric sleeve surgery, it's important to stop taking any medications that could affect your recovery.
Make your surgeon aware of any medications you take for conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes.
In the post-op period, you will probably have to avoid medications in pill or tablet form. In preparation for your surgery, you should look for these medications in a liquid or chewable form, or find out if your pills can be crushed.
10. Make a Hospital Checklist
It 's useful to make a checklist of things you want to take with you to the hospital to ensure that your stay is as comfortable as possible.
This includes your medications, slippers, and loose, soft clothing. You should also bring a laptop, books, or a tablet to ensure that you don't get bored while recovering after the operation.
Making a checklist can also help you feel more mentally prepared during the final days before your gastric sleeve surgery.
Preparing for Gastric Sleeve Surgery
As this list shows, there are a lot of different factors to take into account when preparing for gastric sleeve surgery.
Besides making lifestyle changes prior to your operation, you need to prepare yourself mentally and consider practicalities, such as stocking up on healthy foods.
If you're ready to start your weight loss journey with gastric sleeve surgery, feel free to contact us for more information!