Preparing Your Body for Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Once you’ve made the decision to have gastric sleeve surgery, you’re probably focused on how life will be after. Will you really lose a bunch of weight? How will your life change for the better? (The answers are “yes” and “in too many ways to count,” by the way.) But before all of that can happen, you have to prepare for the procedure. More than simply making sure your passport is up to date, the process typically involves losing some weight to better prepare your body for its upcoming transformation.

Why do I need to lose weight before weight loss surgery?
I mean, if you could lose weight on your own, you wouldn’t need gastric sleeve, right? Don’t worry, the Endobariatric team has you covered with a thorough “what to eat” plan that makes it as easy as possible. We’re not doing this to torture you or even get your body used to a new, lower-calorie way of eating. It’s to ensure you’re as healthy as possible before undergoing the surgery. The truth is that most obese people have fatty liver, which means the liver is enlarged and heavy. Generally, the more you weigh, the bigger your liver. And that’s not good for bariatric surgery. The pre-op diet is designed to shrink the liver so that surgery is not only possible, but involves less internal manipulation and, hence, a quicker and easier recovery.

How much weight will I have to lose?
It varies, based on a patient’s body mass index (BMI), which takes into account height and weight. If your BMI is lower than 35, you don’t have to do a pre-op diet. If it’s between 35 and 42, patients typically diet for a week before surgery. A BMI between 42 and 47 means a 10-day diet. If it’s higher than 47, the pre-op diet will last about two weeks. These are general guidelines; we evaluate each patient individually, of course.

What does the diet look like?
It’s mostly a liquid diet of 800 to 1,000 calories a day. You’ll receive a detailed list of good choices, but here’s a preview: low-sugar and low-carb shakes, coffee, tea, sports drinks, broth, and whey protein mixed with skim milk. If that sounds impossible, trust me when I say that we don’t ask our patients to do anything that’s impossible. Thousands of your sleeve brothers and sisters have successfully used this diet to prep for surgery. And you can, too. That said, here are some guarantees:

  • You’ll be cranky. It takes a couple of days for your hunger to become manageable. That’s because most of my patients average 4,300 calories a day before they come to Endobariatric. That’s a pretty big reduction, so it’s no surprise that some irritability will follow.
  • Fiber will help. Energy, satiety, and constipation all get better when you take in fiber, which can be found in the shakes and whey protein.
  • You can do this without appetite suppressants. I get this question a lot from patients who are scared that their hunger will be out of control. While the purpose of the diet isn’t to “condition” you mentally for your weight loss journey, it can have that benefit if you let it. After your sleeve, you’ll still need to make smart dietary choices in order to lose the amount of weight you want to. Start practicing those smart choices now, and forget the appetite suppressants.
  • Slacking off on the diet may mean a postponed sleeve surgery. I won’t operate on someone whose liver is so enlarged that I can’t navigate their internal anatomy well. I just won’t. Patient safety is always the top priority. So take the pre-op diet seriously, and know we’re always here for support, advice, or just to listen.

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.