Are you considering weight loss surgery after trying everything else, but never getting lasting results? Are you wanting to know more about one of the modern bariatric weight loss surgery methods, the gastric sleeve procedure and recovery? Read this insightful blog of a patient’s journey through gastric sleeve surgery and her weight loss surgery recovery experiences.
My Journey Through a Gastric Sleeve Procedure.
Patient experience about going through a Gastric Sleeve procedure, including some surprises during the weight loss surgery recovery period.
My Gastric Sleeve Surgery & Recovery – Interview with a Weight Loss Surgery Patient
1. How long have you been considering Weight loss surgery before you had it done?
Considering both my parents had weight loss surgery when I was younger, it was always something I knew was an option. Obviously, it is not the first option when it comes to losing weight and it is a very serious procedure. I urge anyone who is considering weight loss surgery to exhaust all other resources before going ahead with a bariatric procedure.
However, having said that – I completely understand what it is like to be at your wit’s end. I could not tell you the last time I wasn’t conscious of what I was eating or wasn’t on a diet plan. I had tried and tested every diet under the sun.
I decided it was time.
So, as I approached my 21st birthday and was moving into a new chapter in my life, I decided I needed to do something to fix this problem that was influencing my life every day. I knew it was going to be drastic and difficult, but it was the only option that would really achieve my intended outcome.
2. What was the most challenging part of making the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery?
The biggest part of making the decision to have surgery was talking to my family. I didn’t really talk to my parents openly about the procedure until after my initial consultation. My parents knew that my weight was something I had struggled with for a long time and definitely impacted on my self-confidence. Having had a different type of weight loss surgery themselves, I was lucky that they had an understanding of how I was feeling.
They decided that they were not going to stand in my way of having the procedure and were fully supportive. My Mum was particularly supportive in that I was making these decisions on my own and taking my health and happiness into my control, rather than waiting until I was older, unhappy and unhealthy.
3. Did you have any fears? And now that you have been through the gastric sleeve surgery, how do you feel about your pre-surgery feelings or concerns?
I was very well informed by my surgeon of the risks and complications that could potentially arise, so my fears were fairly minimal. I knew that while externally the procedure wouldn’t look very invasive with only small key hole scars – the internal healing from the procedure was incredibly important.
It was critical to my healing that I did everything I was told to do by my weight loss surgeon, such as only consuming liquids for the first 3 weeks after surgery or walking around the hospital ward/house to increase blood flow and healing.
4. What made you choose the gastric sleeve over other options for weight loss, or other types of weight loss surgery like a bypass, band or balloon?
When I first went for my consultation I wanted to discuss the gastric band.
The gastric band had first appealed to me because it was a procedure I was familiar with and it was also reversible. So if for some reason in the future (i.e., pregnancy), I could change the condition(s) of my stomach.
However, upon consultation with my surgeon, and given my age, he recommended the gastric sleeve procedure. The sleeve presented as a better long-term option for me, because it is a permanent solution and it doesn’t introduce foreign material into my body, decreasing the chance for infection over time.
Read more about the Laproscopic Gastric Sleeve Surgery procedure.
5. How did you plan for your Gastric Sleeve Surgery and your recovery time (including work, university, financing or other responsibilities)?
I decided to have my procedure done just before Easter.
- It lined up perfectly with a mid-term break at Uni, holidays from my other activities and work approved 2 weeks leave for my recovery.
- This meant that the time between my initial consultation and surgery was shorter than a typical patient but if I didn’t have the procedure over Easter, I probably would have had to wait until December.
In terms of financing, my parents were kind enough to loan me the money to pay for my procedure.
I will be paying this loan back as soon as possible, however being a university student – it may take some time. Given the nature of the surgery, it is possible to request early release of super (Superannuation).
This is where you apply to the government to pay out a small chunk of your super to cover the costs. Given that I have been working and contributing to my super for the past 3 years, this was my back-up plan.
6. Was there anything unexpected about the recovery process after having weight loss surgery?
I had done a lot of research into my recovery in the lead up to my procedure. So there wasn’t much that surprised me. Having said that, there was a few unexpected experiences in the first few weeks post-op. I didn’t realise that for the first little while it was actually going to hurt just consuming water, that I would be able to feel each little mouthful as it hit my stomach, but as I got further post-op this feeling went away. Also, due to the drastic change in my protein consumption, two of my toe nails fell off (gross, I know, sorry!) which I didn’t even realise ‘was a thing’!
Moving around/walking felt strange where my stitches were on my stomach but again has gotten better with time.
The most important thing to keep in mind is most inconveniences will pass, you will be able to drink water pain free again, you will be able to eat solid foods again (albeit smaller portions, but yes, you can eat it!).
7. How many weeks has it been since surgery, and how much weight have you lost?
The last time I weighed myself I was 7 weeks post-op and I had lost 13.5kg.
8. How has eating changed after having weight loss surgery?
Eating after gastric sleeve surgery has changed so much! Technically post-surgery, it is possible to eat whatever you want; however, I took this opportunity to completely reset the way my brain thinks about food.
- I am gluten intolerant, so I no longer eat anything with gluten in it.
- I also do not eat anything deep fried or from a fast food restaurant.
- I don’t drink soft drinks or anything with bubbles in it, and I also don’t eat chocolate for self-control reasons.
Not only does WHAT you change after surgery, but HOW MUCH you eat changes too.
- In the beginning I was only eating a ¼ cup of food in one sitting.
- I now eat around ½ a cup depending on what I’m eating – if it’s liquid based I can eat a little bit more.
- But if it is starchy like gluten free pasta or rice, I eat less.
- I also cannot consume liquid and food at the same time, does not make for a happy time.
I also changed the structure of my meals too.
In order to make sure I eat enough food in a day I have six smaller meals:
- Breakfast, a mid morning snack, lunch, what I like to call second lunch (my favourite meal of the day usually around 2:30 pm/3 pm), an afternoon/early evening snack and then dinner.
- These six meals allow my body to get the nutrition it needs and enough calories in a day, too much of a calorie deficit can result in negative health impacts on your body.
- It is important that while you are trying to lose weight, you do not want to starve your body (with or without having weight loss surgery).
9. Any suggestions for others who are struggling with weight or who are considering their weight loss surgery options?
Weight loss surgery is not an easy way out — that’s for sure.
However, I absolutely think that it is a medically necessary procedure for some people.
Whether its physical health or mental health, the way you perceive yourself is the basis of how you judge your self-worth. If you’re not happy with the way you look or feel — do something about it – but do it for yourself. Not for you parents, partner, or friends, FOR YOURSELF.
When you set weight loss goals, every day is a step towards better self-confidence and happiness.
10. What are some of your goals now that you’re reaching a lighter, healthier weight?
My goals haven’t changed now that I am becoming lighter and healthier. I still want to take on the world, have an awesome career and one day enjoy my own family. Now I can do these things without feeling self-conscious or judged.
For now, I am just focusing on little steps.
11. Did having weight loss surgery change your views on life, body image, confidence, or any future goals?
The surgery has changed my life in more ways then one.
- I am a happier and more confident person simply because I am more comfortable in my skin.
- I am growing to understand body image and how it is different for everyone.
- Love yourself for who you are, stretch marks, scars and all!
My future weight loss goal is to simply be happy, fit and healthy- something I think everyone can achieve!
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