Drinking Fluids after Gastric Sleeve Surgery: The Do’s and Don’ts

What goes into your body after gastric sleeve surgery is critical, especially in the first few weeks. But we get questions about fluids—how much, what kinds, what to avoid—from patients at every stage of their sleeve journey. Here are some of the most important do’s and don’ts when it comes to your favorite sippers.


Do: Drink coffee (if you like it)

Many of us can’t imagine waking up without coffee. And if you’re one of them, there’s no need to change your routine just because you have a gastric sleeve. In fact, my patients can enjoy coffee immediately after surgery because it’s considered a clear liquid. I do recommend decaf for a few weeks, though, because caffeine can interfere with the sleep cycles that are crucial in helping your body heal. And no matter what kind of coffee you’re drinking, make sure it’s warm—not hot—for a while. Body tissues will be swollen right after surgery, and you want to make sure you’re not adding hot fuel to that fire.


Do: Count coffee and tea toward your fluid totals

More good news for coffee and tea lovers! Your favorite beverages do help you hit your daily fluid intake goals; any liquid, in fact, counts toward those totals. Helpful tip: Record everything that goes into your body so you know if you’re hitting goals like liquids and protein.


Don’t: Worry about stretching your sleeve with water

The truth is that eating and drinking won’t stretch or burst your sleeve. It might feellike it’s being stretched if you do them at the same time, though. The reason is because fluid competes for space with food in your newly crafted sleeve, and it can feel kind of uncomfortable. For patients who experience that sensation, I advise not drinking anything 30 minutes before eating or within 30 to 45 minutes after eating.


Do: Get 64 ounces of fluids

This amount minimizes your chance of dehydration. Admittedly, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get this many ounces right after sleeve surgery because your new stomach is still swollen. Your routine will be: sip, wait, sip, wait. It’ll get much easier on day four or five, and you’ll (realistically) be able to start hitting your fluid goal soon afterward.


Don’t: Limit yourself to water

What? Isn’t water the best thing for everyone? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” If you can tolerate lots of water, go for it. But people with a sleeve typically have a harder time downing water than other kinds of liquids. For those patients, I recommend mixing water with Gatorade or Crystal Light, which makes that water go down more easily. One caveat: If you’re experiencing very, very hot weather, you need to increase the amount of water you’re getting.


Don’t: Use energy drinks to get your fluid total

I’m not a fan of energy drinks for multiple reasons. They’re usually full of chemicals and sugar, and some add carbonation, which doesn’t typically feel great on a sleeve. Endobariatric has a long list of liquids that are much more beneficial for your body.


Do: Limit alcohol

Yes, it’s a liquid, but it shouldn’t make a regular appearance in your food and beverage log. Some bariatric surgeons prohibit their patients from drinking any alcohol. I don’t go that far, but I don’t recommend it—and certainly not on a regular basis. Why? Because it’s nothing but empty calories. And don’t forget that your new stomach processes alcohol differently, so even small amounts will affect you much more than they ever did before. When you combine the stress to your body, the empty calories, and the risk of getting drunk very quickly, there’s just no good reason to make it part of your post-sleeve diet.


Have more questions about fluid intake after gastric sleeve surgery? The Endobariatric team is always ready to answer them!