Technically, I’m the expert in vertical sleeve gastrectomy. My team and I have performed tens of thousands of VSGs over the years, perfecting our technique as we concentrate solely on that one procedure. But I’ve never had a VSG myself. So I would contend that the patients who’ve experienced gastric sleeve in our Mexico hospital have as much expertise as I do when it comes to knowing what to do—and what not to do—in order to be successful with this tool. Here’s some of the best advice straight from your fellow sleeve brothers and sisters.
• Pack light. When you come to the Endo Hospital for your surgery, remember that you’ll only be gone for a few days, and we provide nearly everything you could want or need when you’re with us. Also, you won’t be able to hoist heavy baggage on your return trip, nor are airline employees allowed to help you. Jennifer laments, “I wish I had brought a small roller bag.” If you DO overpack, ask for help. “I asked people by me on the plane to help me put my bag up and get it down for me. Everyone was really nice about it,” she adds.
• Know your triggers. Amber says, “One thing I have not picked up again is soft drinks and energy drinks. I know that would be a slippery slope for me.” Good thinking, Amber.
• Learn from the veterans. Those who’ve “been there, done that” often can have more sway with new patients than medical staff. Eloy says reading through lots of posts on the private Facebook group before surgery helped him work through things like stalls mentally—before they even happened to him. “I truly believe getting your mind prepared for the journey is the most important,” he says.
• Take before and after pics. When you feel like the scale isn’t moving fast enough, photos from “before” can help keep you motivated. “You may not see the weight loss in your mirror, but pics don’t lie,” says Trisha, adding that clothing can be a good barometer, too. “My old pants starting to fall off my booty don’t lie either.”
• Make holiday exceptions. It’s one thing to have an occasional indulgence, but indulging multiple days in a row, not to mention an entire season, is a recipe for disaster. “I followed Dr. A’s diet/nutritional recommendations almost 100% for the first two years and had great success,” says Amber. “Last year I allowed myself to indulge in holiday treats. Since then it’s been hard to eliminate those things from my diet again, and I’ve had a 12- to 15-pound regain, depending on the day.”
• Fall into new traps. Most VSG patients have a food addiction, and some struggle with staying away from new additions. “Someone told me once, ‘Don’t replace food with alcohol.’ I laughed and thought that wouldn’t happen. (But) it’s easier than you think,” Kirsten confesses.
• Make yourself crazy trying to be “perfect.” There are a few golden rules that just plain work: eat protein and produce before anything else, drink lots of water, and get some exercise. Otherwise, there are no magic bullets that work for everyone, and trying to mimic someone else’s path may not work for you. “Listen to everyone’s feedback, then do trial and error for what works for you,” Sabrina says. “If I’d done everything perfect… I’d have failed miserably and would have been miserable in the process. But (I’m) 10 and a half years out and still love my sleeve.”
• Be afraid. Easier said than done, I know. But the many thousands of patients who’ve trusted us with their health all say the same thing about VSG at the Endo Hospital. “Even if my insurance would have covered the surgery, after doing so much research I still would have chosen Dr. Alvarez and his team,” Dalene says. “Myself, husband and seven other friends and family members have been more than blessed by choosing him.”
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If you want a more personalized experience and you have Instagram, 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”.