The first week after a sleeve gastrectomy is arguably the hardest span of days that you will have on your road to recovery. In order to get through this time period successfully it important to know what is ahead of you so you aren’t surprised.
Pain from the Sleeve Gastrectomy
Bariatric surgery is major surgery, even though the gastric sleeve is minimally invasive procedure you are still going to have moderate pain and your body is going to need time to recover. Make sure to use your oral pain medications as needed but according to directions but avoid severe pain by taking medications before it gets too severe. Don’t be afraid to take your medication most patients use their pain medications for about week after surgery.
Nausea & Stomach Spasms
A majority of patients end up having some level nausea and stomach spasms after sleeve gastrectomy. Your stomach has just gone through a very traumatic procedure and your new stomach is probably very swollen so naturally your sleeve may spasm periodically. During this first week it’s really important to sip and drink your liquids slowly it will help keep the spasms and nausea to a minimum. Many times doctors will prescribe Zofran or Ativan for nausea, make sure to stay ahead of the nausea by taking your medication earlier rather than later. For stomach spasms many doctors will prescribe Hyoscyamine which should be taken consistently for best results in keeping your stomach calm.
Overly Tired and Feeling Weaker Than Normal
After the surgery your body will be adjusting to the new normal of calorie intake due to your stomach size and lower hunger levels. Because you body is trying to heal itself from the surgery you’ll already be more tired and worn down than normal, add on top the lessened calorie in-take and chances are you’ll be feeling way more sluggish than normal. Its important to take that first week after surgery easy to help you recover and regain strength. Also unless you work a desk job, it is advisable to take 2 weeks off to build back your energy and recover from surgery as your body works at burning fat and using energy systems that it isn’t use to utilizing. Make sure to take protein and vitamin supplements as that will help with energy and keep your body from using muscle instead of fat as an energy source.
Constipation & Diarrhea
With the changes to your stomach and digestion system you might be in for some instability in how your bowel movements adjust. Constipation is fairly common and can sometimes be caused by the pain medications taken during the first few weeks. To avoid constipation make sure to drink plenty of water. Also you may use Milk of Magnesia every 8 hours as needed to help get things going again. If problems persist after 2-3 days try a bottle of magnesium citrate. This will often cause diarrhea but will relieve constipation.
Diarrhea is the more common of the two problems as it happens more easily while on a full liquid diet. Protein supplements and shakes also may aggravate the condition. Many times as patients come off the liquid diet and a person eats more solid foods the diarrhea improves. If you have 4-6 loose stools daily, you might want to visit the doctor and get tested for a possible infection.
Being prepared for these four main issues in your first week after bariatric surgery will help you stay calm and be at ease knowing that they are common occurrences and you are on the right track. Getting through the first two weeks can be a struggle but it's worth it to improve your health and to keep looking forward to the promise of better weeks ( See what to expect weeks 3-4 after gastric sleeve surgery) just around the corner.