The sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) is one of the most popular bariatric weight loss surgeries. More people are opting for gastric sleeves over other weight loss procedures, and for some exceptionally good reasons. The surgery is effective at helping patients lose excess weight quickly and it comes with relatively low risk. It’s easy to see why all the best bariatric surgeons offer this extraordinary weight loss procedure.
But how much can you lose with the gastric sleeve? How long does it take for the weight to come off? The answers may surprise you.
The Gastric Sleeve Surgery Timeline
Qualifying for Surgery – Day 1
Before you can opt for gastric sleeve surgery, you must schedule a consultation with a bariatric surgeon. Due to COVID-19, many weight loss surgical practices are conducting consultations via video or phone, at least initially. You can ask questions and be evaluated by your surgeon before traveling to the office for an in-person meeting. Only by meeting the doctor face to face can you truly be medically assessed and correctly diagnosed.
What is the surgeon looking for? To qualify for bariatric surgery, such as the gastric sleeve, you must have a BMI over 40. You can qualify with a BMI of 35 and above if you have one or more obesity-related ailments, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) or type 2 diabetes.
BMI stands for body mass index. Doctors use this measurement to determine if a patient is overweight. Your BMI measurement lets you and your doctor know how much body fat you have based on your height and weight.
A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is in the normal weight range. If you have a BMI of 25 to 29.9, you are considered overweight.
Adults with a BMI over 30 and under 40 are considered obese. At 40 and above, you are considered extremely obese. If you have a BMI over 45, you are considered morbidly obese.
With a BMI over 45, you are said to be around 100 pounds overweight. At 40, you might be 80 pounds overweight.
Overall, you can expect to lose around 50% to 75% or more of your excess weight with the gastric sleeve within the first two years.
The Day of Surgery (6 Months)
Having a bariatric surgeon clear you for surgery during your consultation does not mean that you will have surgery right away. There are certain “Fast Track” programs that can have you whisked into surgery sooner. You should expect to wait around six months before your surgery is scheduled.
There are several reasons for this:
1- Patient Education
Before you opt for surgery, your bariatric surgeon wants to know that you understand the risks, benefits, and complications that can occur with gastric sleeve. In most cases, you will be invited to an educational seminar. In this seminar, you will be presented with videos and other informative materials. Knowing more about the sleeve gastrectomy weight loss procedure makes you an informed patient and allows you to determine if the stomach surgery is truly right for you.
2- Behavioral Modification Class
Your bariatric surgeon may recommend classes to help you eat better and live a healthier lifestyle. These classes teach you what habits are most conducive to lifelong weight loss. You’ll learn about nutrition and how to make better food choices.
These classes can also help you identify the foods you may need to drop since gastric sleeve surgery means you sometimes can’t have certain foods or drinks. For instance, you should consider quitting drinking alcohol following surgery because of the complications that can arise in gastric sleeve patients.
3- Health Screening & Tests
Your surgeon may require you to undergo a health assessment that includes checks of your blood, urine, blood type, HCG for women who are menstruating, and other examinations. You may have to wait up to six weeks or more for your test results to come back.
4- Multidisciplinary Review
Once your screening and test results are available, your bariatric surgeon may pass your file on to an approval review committee for further screening. This step is important as it allows many medical professionals to scrutinize your test results and health history to determine if you are eligible for surgery or not.
Another major reason for the delay between the consultation and the day of surgery is the time it can take for insurance to be approved. After you have been approved by the multidisciplinary review board, the next step will be to contact your insurance provider.
Your insurer will need to approve the surgery before it is performed – assuming you’re paying with insurance. This process can take up to 30 days. If your insurance provider does not approve the surgery, you will need to pay for the gastric sleeve out of pocket. Keep in mind that bariatric surgery financing is available through companies like CareCredit and Prosper Healthcare Lending.
5- Pre-Operative Class
In many cases, your insurance provider will require you to take a pre-operative class. This is to further educate you about the gastric sleeve procedure and to remind you of the necessary changes in your behavior for the surgery to be successful. This class typically takes place between one and two weeks before the day of surgery.
6- Pre-Operative Assessment
About five days before your procedure, you will undergo comprehensive tests and screenings by your bariatric surgeon. The results of these tests will act as controls against the tests that were previously completed in the earlier stages of the process. Just like the previous testing, these follow-up assessments can include blood type screening, a health history assessment, nicotine screening, urinalysis, and a full blood count.
You will then be ready for the day of surgery.
The Day of Surgery & Immediate Recovery (2 to 3 Days)
The next step is the gastric procedure itself. During gastric sleeve surgery, small incisions will be used as entry points for laparoscopic tools, including a camera. The action is viewed on a monitor positioned nearby. Your surgeon will first cut away 80% of your stomach. It will leave behind a pouch or “sleeve”, which is where food will traverse on its way to your intestines. The limited space for food means that you will eat less. Gastric sleeve also affects the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel less hungry and more satiated when eating.
During the first month, you will be focused on recovering from surgery. How fast you recover depends on your body, how well you react to the aftereffects of anesthesia, and how well you listen to your doctor’s post-surgical instructions.
During the first month, you should lose up to 20 pounds, which is about the weight of a push lawnmower.
During the first few months of gastric sleeve surgery recovery, your doctor will put you on a liquid diet, followed by a soft foods diet. This is designed to help your stomach accommodate the new changes and get you used to eating smaller meals. Your doctor will gradually reintroduce solid foods into your diet around the two or three month mark.
At month two, you should find yourself losing an additional fifteen pounds, which is about the weight of the heaviest bowling balls.
By month three, you should be getting used to your new lifestyle changes and your weight should continue to melt away.
You should expect to lose another 12 pounds, which is only a tad heavier than a gallon of paint.
By the fourth month, your weight loss should progress to a loss of around ten pounds, or about the weight of a full-sized house cat.
By the fifth month, your weight loss should begin to taper off. You can expect to lose around seven pounds by this point, which is just under the size of a healthy newborn baby.
By month six, you can expect to lose another four pounds, which is around the weight of a pair of small boots.
Month 7 and Beyond
When you get to the six-to-twelve-month mark of your gastric sleeve recovery, your weight will begin to plateau. Your surgeon may recommend further interventions to stimulate more weight loss, such as adding exercise to the mix. Making healthier eating choices can also help to shave off excess pounds.
How Much Total Weight Can You Lose with Gastric Sleeve?
If you are 350 pounds right now and your goal weight is 150 pounds, you are determined to have 200 pounds of excess weight. By opting for gastric sleeve, you can expect to lose between 100 and 120 pounds post-surgery, in the first year alone!
While you do bear some responsibility with your progress, these results are realistic for the average bariatric surgery patient.
Are You Ready for Weight Loss with Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery?
Do you want to lose 40, 50, 60 pounds, or achieve more weight loss with the sleeve gastrectomy? The gastric sleeve, which is more popular than ever, can give you a new lease on life. The procedure can even treat obesity-related ailments such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and sleep apnea.
With a newer, slimmer body, more energy, and zest for life up for grabs, you owe it to yourself to schedule a consultation today.
If you live in Los Angeles, California, contact Healthy Life Bariatrics. HLB is the home of world-renowned bariatric surgeon Dr. Babak Moeinolmolki. Let the doctor and his surgical staff help you achieve your ideal weight. You can get started today by calling (310)694-4486|.