Weight Loss Surgery - Gastric Sleeve - What to expect?

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03-12-2013, 11:26 PM
Although my Doc is fantastic, I really haven't been told a lot in regards to post op - and what to expect.

Just after experiences from those who have had the sleeve.

I'm flying down, and flying home again (saves the 6 hour drive). And I'm taking two weeks off work. (I work in Admin, so not a physical job) - But I will have a 2 year old at home mornings and evenings (he will be able to go to daycare during the day)....

So I assume I can't lift my son, but what kind of pain are we talking about day 1-2 post op? Also when can I expect to be able to walk around and shower etc unaided?

I won't have anyone with me at the time of surgery, as my Hubby has no leave available from work, plus will need to stay home for our son - so that side of things make me quite nervous. I've never undergone surgery without someone there with me when I wake up.. :dizzy: . So I'm just trying to get my head around that, and prepare myself as best as I can.

03-16-2013, 02:19 AM
I went to Mexico alone for my surgery with no issues. My surgery was late in the evening at 9pm on a Wednesday and I was home on Sunday afternoon. The first 24 hours post op was the hardest. Really just the first 12 hours were uncomfortable more than painful. I took pain meds for 2.5 days, but I never really felt pain to ask for the meds, they were just given automatically. I was glad there was nobody there with me as I was focused totally on myself and didn't have to worry about another person being bored or worrying them. I did have good nursing for those couple of post op days if something had gone wrong. But the nurses gave meds, took temps, changed dressings but mostly they chatted with the patients. I was surprised how low maintenance VSG post-op really is.

Right after surgery you need to get up and walk as much as possible even if you do not feel like it. You will be walking unaided within an hour or two out of the recovery room. I showered the second day after surgery just keeping my incisions covered and dry with plastic and changing the dressings right after the shower. They pump your abdomen full of air for the surgery and walking the hours and days following surgery helps work it out. Some say taking gas-x helps, but for me it did not.

Taking the first sips of water were a bit odd and it hurt to take more than the smallest sip possible. Water was very hard for me to drink so I ate lots of popsicles for three days. These were so good and did not hurt to eat where water seemed too harsh. I also added in some diluted cranberry and apple juices. I was drinking so little of these the sugar in them didn't really factor in.

By the second day after surgery I felt pretty good. I had a hard time laying on my side but that was it. I did not sleep a lot but there were others who had surgery the same days as me who slept like logs each day. I was up all day chatting, reading, watching TV and only took one short 30-45 nap a day. But I do tend to get wired from pain meds while it makes others sleepy. My incisions did not bother me nor did the drain from the largest incision which was taken out after 3 days. It feels a bit weird when pulled out but it did not hurt. On the second day after surgery day I went out shopping. I did get tired very quickly but still felt good.

The worst part was on the third day I had a "leak" test where I had to drink a contrast dye which was disgusting and you have to drink a good bit of it which is difficult. Some people get sick from this, luckily I did not. I drank it with a straw being careful to not take sips of air in (the dye was blue and could stain your teeth). After this I did not feel like doing a lot as I was a bit queazy for several hours.

I returned home the fourth day. I should have asked for a wheelchair at the airport as the walk to the gate after going through security and having been in a van for a couple of hours really wiped me out. So do ask for help and hop in that wheelchair. I did not lift anything heavy for several weeks. Your doc should advise you on the weight limit and the time frame for not lifting.

My home wound care was simple. I kept the incisions dry while showering until the stitches came out. I did have one incision that took a while to heal as it was close to my bra line and with larger breasts and living in a hot climate I would sweat and the bandages would get moist. So it took a while for it to heal and I would try and lay back and let air get to it to dry it out. Other than that I had my PCP doc take out my stitches.

Once home it took a couple of weeks to get in the groove and to figure out eating. Having two weeks off is good, but don't push it when you go back to work. I felt normal after three weeks. It is difficult to start eating soft foods so do not push it and stick to your post op plan. I was so sick of protein shakes and sweet tasting foods from my pre-op diet that I was over them after two weeks. I drank broth and by the third week was so happy to be having blended soups. I also had KFC mashed potatoes thinned with broth which made me feel normal. When I could have soft solids Wendy's chili was so good. These are funny things to have post op because now I don't really eat fast food. But they were foods that were not sweet like yogurt, jello and puddings and shakes.

I introduced new foods slowly and only ate a little at a time. Then waiting the 45 minutes after eating to drink as much as possible in tiny sips. You will feel like all you are doing is eating and drinking all day,,,because you are. Just take tiny bites and chew, chew, chew your food. Eat very slowly. It should take 30 minutes to eat a couple of ounces of food in the beginning. Your tastes may change from pre-op to post-op, so be prepared. Also if you feel full, stop eating immediately. You will, over time, learn your limit with each kind of food you eat as you will have specific tolerances. Chicken has to be pretty moist for me, if it is dry it can feel like it is stuck a bit in my throat. I eat my proteins first and then add in veggies after if I have room. You may find some foods are a no go for you. I have not had this issue and can pretty much eat any foods I care to without fear of issues other than feeling restriction. If I ate too fast in the beginning I would feel a tightness in my chest that would take several minutes to go away so I learned to eat slowly. I have never vomited. I did have a stomach bug in my second month post op and had to take a PPI for about two weeks as the acid in my stomach was making it ache. But that is the only issue I have had in seven months.

I hope this info helps you. Good luck with your surgery and I hope you have a speedy recovery.

03-19-2013, 10:45 PM
Wow Phranquie thank you so much for the break down!! That helps a lot.

I hope my surgery goes as smooth as yours seems to have!!!

Many thanks again.

03-22-2013, 07:22 PM
I had my surgery on March 5th in Mexico. I flew in the night before and got to enjoy myself for a night with my Dad, who was my companion. I was the first person to have the surgery the next day, so I went under the knife around 9:30 am. I couldn't tell you when they brought me back to my room, because I slept hard for the entire first day. The few times that I did wake up, I was aware that my throat was quite sore, and it hurt to breath due to the gas in my abdomen. But the pain was not back enough to keep me from sleeping.

I was not able to drink/eat anything or walk at all during the first day. The doctors came in a gave me different medications (pain, anti-biotics, etc) throughout the day and night. I also had to get two shots in my arms. One was a blood thinner, the other was insulin because the stress of the surgery caused my blood sugar to rise a bit. I also started using the nebulizer and spirometer the first night. I was only able to move one ball the first night.

The following day, I was able to start walking, which only helped the gas pain minimally. My throat was no longer sore, but the gas caused a lot of discomfort. My incisions and stomach never caused me much pain. They were a little tender of course, but nothing excessive. I still had my IV and continued to receive anti-biotics, pain meds, etc. The main thing during the second day was lots of walking. Still nothing to eat or drink.

On the second day after surgery, I had my leak test in the morning. I drank 4 oz. of nasty awfulness quickly, so they could scan and track the barium, and everything looked good. SO my IV was taken out, and I was given a popsicle. I was amazing, but I could only eat half of it. The dressings were checked and changed and we were sent back to the hotel. I continued to walk as much as I could, but spent most of the day taking it easy.

On the third day, I was feeling well enough to go out and stroll around one of the malls for a couple hours. We had to go back and get our dressings changed again, and they gave us all of our medications (stomach protector, antacid, pain meds, anti-biotic) and all of the post-op instructions, as well as surgical report and the image from our leak test. I was keeping down clear fluids just fine, including jello, gatorade, and chicken broth. I had very little pain at this point, almost no gas pain, and I never had any nausea. I felt pretty good, but I got tired very easily.

The next day ended up being a 22 hour travel day. Up very early in the morning, and then flown all over the US before finally reaching Canada thanks to our first flight being cancelled. Then, a late night drive to get us the rest of the way home at almost mid-night. This I would not recommend. I was in general very sore (mostly my back from all the sitting) and exhausted from all the travel.

Every day since, I have felt better and better. I healed incredibly well, I am now in my full fluid stage and haven't had any problems keeping anything down. My medications go down easier than within the first few days. I would recommend taking one pill at a time, and waiting a few minutes in between at the start. I am off of work for 3 weeks, because I have a very physical job (but no heavy lifting). My family Dr. is very happy with my progress so far.

All in all, the first two days I would say were rough, but so very worth it. Each day gets better and better.

03-26-2013, 07:45 PM
You guys are awesome! Ty so much for the breakdown. That has helped a lot.

Well I'm on my two week wait, actually 1 week 5 days and counting.

I'm going really well on the optifast shake diet. Lost 4 kilos already. (not sure what that is in pounds).

03-27-2013, 03:22 AM
Haha I was just gonna ask what a kilo equaled.

How exciting for you!

03-27-2013, 10:17 AM
1 kilo = 2.2 pounds. So 4 kilos = 8.8 pounds

and so ends today's trivia lesson

03-27-2013, 05:52 PM