What Does Living With A Gastric Sleeve Really Look Like?

You’re considering gastric sleeve surgery, but you have some questions about living with a gastric sleeve. Which medications and supplements will you need to take, and for how long after surgery? If you’re a woman, will you need to be on birth control after surgery? How will your lifestyle change? How will your diet change, and how often will you need to exercise in order to maintain consistent weight loss?

Let’s walk through these questions together.

What Medications and Supplements Will I Need to Be On?

As your body changes post-surgery, you will need to take several medications and supplements. These include:

– Omeprazole, which reduces your risk of acid reflux. Many patients only take this medication for three months after surgery, but some patients (especially those with acid reflux going into surgery) may have to take it indefinitely.

– Ursodiol, which reduces your risk of developing gallstones. You should expect to take Ursodiol for twelve months after surgery if your gallbladder was not previously removed.

– Bariatric multi-vitamin. Expect to take this every day after surgery to reduce your risk of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

– Calcium with Vitamin D supplement. Expect to take this twice daily after surgery.

Will I Need to Be On Birth Control?

We highly recommend that you use effective birth control for the first 18 months after gastric sleeve surgery. The reason is that, for the first year after surgery, changes to your anatomy and your nutrition are already putting a substantial load on your body. A pregnancy in the first year could potentially be harmful to you and for the baby. Additionally, pregnancy at this time can interrupt your anticipated weight loss.

After 18 months, pregnancy is safer and in many cases can actually be healthier for both the baby and mother than it would have been before the weight loss.

How Will My Lifestyle Change After Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

After gastric sleeve surgery, you’ll want to take a couple of weeks off of work, but most patients do recover fairly quickly. Most patients are able to return to work about 2 weeks after surgery. Within 5-6 weeks, energy levels have usually returned to pre-operative levels.

After 2-3 months, you’ll probably have more energy than you did before surgery. Obesity is a brutal disease; the combination of direct health problems, and physical pain (especially on joints), can make it very hard to work. After surgery, as you continue to lose weight and keep it off, and as your diet and exercise improves, you’ll find that you have more energy and less pain than you have had for many years.

Will I Ever Eat Normally Again After A Gastric Sleeve?

It’s important to note that your diet will need to change substantially after surgery. The reason is that weight loss surgery is a powerful obesity treatment, but it’s not a magic cure. In order to lose the weight and keep it off, you’ll need to adopt a strict diet for the rest of your life. This diet is generally higher-protein and lower in processed foods, and consists of smaller meals than what you could consume before weight loss surgery. Our bariatric dietitian can offer nutritional guidance and help you craft a post-surgery diet that’s right for you. 

Will I Need to Exercise After Surgery?

After surgery it is very important that you adopt a regular exercise regimen in order to have your best chance to lose weight and keep it off. You should engage in strength training and cardio. Our bariatric team can work with you to develop the right exercise regimen for your body and your weight loss goals.

How Often Will I Need to Follow Up After Surgery?

After surgery, you’ll need to follow up with our office on a consistent basis. We ask patients to return for a post-operative visit with your surgeon two weeks after surgery. We also ask that you schedule a visit with the team at 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, one year, and annually thereafter.

One of the challenges that some bariatric surgery patients face is maintaining motivation for diet and exercise after surgery. Weight loss is a marathon, not a sprint; and it can be difficult at times along the journey not to feel unmotivated or stuck. Coming in for your post-op visits can help with this. We also offer regular support groups, which can be a great way to stay motivated and help you reach your weight loss goals.

Taking the Next Step On Your Weight Loss Journey

If you’re ready to take the next step on your weight loss journey, we  encourage you to schedule a bariatric assessment with us or learn more about our unique approach to bariatric care.

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

“I feel like I have won the lottery and have been given a second chance in life! March 25, 2014 was the first day of the rest of my new life and I can’t even start to express in words how grateful I am.”—Rochelle Goforth, patient.

See more gastric sleeve before and after stories (and pictures).

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 14th, 2023

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