Beating Obesity: The Gastric Sleeve Roadmap

You know you’re ready to take the next step on your weight loss journey, and you think gastric sleeve surgery might be your best option. But you’re not sure what it entails.

In this blog post we’ll walk through your roadmap of gastric sleeve surgery: including pre-op care, the surgery itself, risks and complications, and post-op care. By the end, you’ll have a strong sense of whether or not this surgery is right for you.

The First Step

Before you consider a gastric sleeve (also called a sleeve gastrectomy), it’s important to check your BMI to make sure that you meet insurance criteria. In order to be eligible for bariatric surgery, insurances require your BMI must be over 40, or over 35 if you also have weight-related medical conditions. You can check your BMI using our BMI calculator.

Pre-Operative Care

Before bariatric surgery, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with our team at multiple points in order to make sure that weight loss surgery is right for you. These consultations will also set you up for success and help you maximize your opportunity for lasting weight loss. These consultations include:

  • Initial surgical consultation
  • Psychological (behavioralist) evaluation
  • Physical activity and fitness consultation (to create a pre- and post-surgery exercise plan)
  • Dietitian consultation
  • Primary Care visit (physician should discuss your current medicines and which ones may cause problems with bariatric surgery)
  • Preoperative visit with your surgeon

As part of your consultation with our dietitian, you’ll receive nutritional guidance so that you can start to develop healthy dieting habits that you can maintain and build on after surgery. These might include: cutting down on fatty meats (ex. sausage and bacon), cutting down on processed foods and empty calories (ex. soda, candy, and white bread), and eating more whole fruits and vegetables (raw or steamed).

One Week Before Surgery

One week before surgery, you’ll adopt a liquid diet. This diet will be low in sugar and fats, and high in protein. This diet is essential to help reduce the size of your liver before surgery, which makes surgery easier and further reduces the already low risk of complications. It also gives your body the necessary protein to repair and rebuild after surgery.

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

This surgery takes roughly 45 minutes. During surgery, your bariatric surgeon will remove about 85 percent of the left side of your stomach. The part of the stomach that remains will be a thin tube, roughly the diameter of your index finger. By shrinking your stomach, the sleeve gastrectomy helps reduce hunger and helps you to feel full much faster.

The part of the stomach that is removed also produces a hormone called ghrelin, which stimulates your appetite. When your body produces less ghrelin, you naturally get less hungry; which can further facilitate lasting weight loss.

Risk & Complications

At a certified ASMBS comprehensive MBSAQIP center like the BMCC, your surgery is as safe as any minor outpatient surgery such as gallbladder surgery. Our double-board-certified bariatric surgeon, Dr. Joshua Long, prides himself on staying in the operating room until every single surgery is done as well as humanly possible. We also routinely rank in the top 1% of weight loss surgery practices in Colorado, in part due to our patient-centered focus and emphasis on high quality care. At the BMCC, you are in very safe hands.

Additionally, because the sleeve gastrectomy contains no additional anatomical rearrangement besides reducing the size of the stomach, there is little risk of malnutrition or vitamin deficiency (which can happen with some other surgeries unless patients are very diligent about taking vitamin and mineral supplements every day for the rest of their lives).

That said, complications have been rarely reported. These can include:

  • Incisional pain
  • Infections
  • Bleeding
  • Dehydration (due to inadequate fluid intake)
  • Increased reflux or heartburn

Post-Operative Care

Sleeve gastrectomy surgery is a powerful tool to help you level the playing field in your battle against obesity, but it is not a magical cure. After surgery, it is very important that you follow up regularly with your team at the BMCC.

You will be asked to return for a postoperative visit with your surgeon two weeks after surgery, and then a visit with the team at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, one year out, and once per year thereafter. 

We also offer regular post-operative support groups for patients in the Denver area, which we encourage you to attend. Patients who engage in regular follow-up have better outcomes and tend to lose more weight and keep it off.

How Much Weight Will I Lose?

After your gastric sleeve operation, you can expect to lose 60-80% of your excess body weight. 

How fast can you lose weight after gastric sleeve surgery? It is important to note that this weight loss will not happen all at once. Most patients lose 1-2 pounds per week. That may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a year it translates to 50-100 pounds for many patients and sometimes more for others. Imagine how that would feel.  

However, it’s important to note that patients who stick to a strict dietary and exercise regime have the best opportunity to beat obesity. Weight loss surgery is not a magical pill, and you will have your best outcome when you pair surgery with the dietary and exercise regimes that our team will help you to develop and implement. Adopting a healthy lifestyle is essential to getting the most out of this next chapter of your life.

Taking the Next Step: Scheduling Your Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is one of the best gifts that you can give yourself. You deserve to lose the weight, keep it off, and get your life back. If you’re interested in a gastric sleeve and would like to know more about it, we encourage you to contact our friendly staff or make an appointment.

Our patients routinely say that surgery was the best decision they ever made.

“We cannot imagine another Doctor or Practice with whom this process could have been so wonderfully orchestrated…. Dr. Long and his staff are the kindest, most loving, and supportive group of individuals we have ever could have met. Each person has contributed to our success, each and every one.”–Keri and Chris Sexton, gastric sleeve patients.

Read more gastric sleeve testimonials.

If you’re suffering, don’t wait. Contact our Denver office today.

Dr. Joshua Long headshot

This page was medically reviewed by Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS. Dr. Long is a double-board-certified bariatric surgeon and bariatric medical director for Parker Adventist Hospital.
Full Bio: Dr. Joshua Long, MD, MBA, FACS, FASMBS
Page Updated: September 13th, 2023

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