What it’s Really Like Immediately After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Most of our patients at Endobariatric have never had gastric sleeve surgery before, so, naturally, they have a lot of questions. And many of those questions revolve around the period right after surgery while they’re still in the hospital. I can only speak for the experience at Endobariatric, of course, but I’m happy to answer some of the most-asked inquiries about this period.

Am I going to be in a lot of pain?

Ah, the big one. No one wants to be in pain. The short answer is that pain isn’t something our post-op patients report a lot of. We try to keep the entire procedure as stress-free as possible, so we put relaxation medication into the IV before we start. Many patients don’t remember a darn thing until they’re back in their recovery suite. And then we continue to deliver fluids and medications to combat pain, nausea, inflammation, heartburn, and more in order to keep you comfortable and healing well.

The sensation we hear about the most is dry mouth, which is a side effect of the anesthesia. To combat it, we recommend that you rinse your mouth or brush your teeth. Swallowing water isn’t allowed quite yet.

Will I be able to rest?

If you’ve ever been in the hospital before, you know that it’s not exactly restful. Between the parade of medical personnel and all of the checks and tests, it can be a zoo. At Endobariatric, our first priority is your health. But we try to let you recuperate in peace as much as possible, which is why we’ve designed recovery suites to feel more like a hotel than an austere hospital. We do, however, routinely check patients for clinical signs of leaks and other side effects throughout their stay—all rare events, but ones that needs monitoring.

Will I be hooked up to machines?

No machines here! Quite a few patients believe they’ll need a catheter, a drain, or other “tethers,” but those aren’t things we typically do. The surgery only takes about half an hour, so hooking patients up to a urinary catheter isn’t necessary. And since there’s nothing to drain after the stomach is closed back up, we don’t need drainage tubes. Other things we don’t do: epidurals, nasogastric tubes, ventilators, or compression garments. An IV is pretty much it.

How soon will I be up and walking?

Well, no catheter means you’ll have to get up to pee, which usually happens two to three hours after surgery. After 24 hours, patients do a couple of laps around the hospital halls every 30 minutes or so. It might seem soon, but keep in mind that walking is the best “medication,” and the more walking you do, the better you’ll feel. It’s also an indication of how smooth recovery is for the vast majority of patients.

Can I eat and drink?

Not really. Instead, the day after surgery will be dedicated to sucking on ice, which is a baby step toward eating and drinking. Why sucking on ice? The cold is excellent for swollen tissue (remember when Mom would put an ice pack on your banged-up knee?). Your stomach has been through a lot, and it needs a little cold therapy. The idea is for you to put a piece of ice in your mouth and let it melt. The process helps the sleeve heal while also keeping you hydrated.

What’s this “sleeve blush” I’ve heard about?

It’s common for our lighter-skinned patients, especially, to develop what we call the “sleeve blush” in the first day or two after surgery. It manifests in a red and/or warm face, neck, and maybe part of your arms. Some patients worry that it’s a sign of fever, but it’s not. It’s not dangerous at all, in fact. If it develops, it doesn’t last long. By the way, darker skinner patients may feel this warmth, too; it just doesn’t show up as a “blush.”

When will I go home?

We normally discharge our local patients after 24 hours, but out-of-town patients are released from our care after 48 hours. This gives us an extra 24 hours of observation to pick up any issue that may arise. On discharge, out-of-town patients can stay an extra night at a hotel or catch a plane back home.

Got more questions about the post-op experience? At Endobariatric, we’re happy to discuss them with you any time.

I invite you to follow us on all our social networks, we are on FacebookInstagramTwitter and Pinterest, we also have our YouTube channel where I’m the host of the #AskDrA Show, where I (Dr. Alvarez) answer frequently asked questions that are sent to me with the Hashtag #AskDrA, subscribe to it! we talk about very interesting subjects.

If you want a more personalized experience and you have Snapchat, follow me (Dr. Alvarez) to see my day both in my daily routine and in the operating room, add me! We will have a great time! My username is: gmoalvarez.

“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.