As a VSG (Gastric Sleeve) doctor with over 9,000 patients, I get asked lots of questions. Thousands of them. Some have to do with health, diet, food, the procedure itself, and even how others will think of them for having VSG surgery.
Although I can point you in the right direction and show you hundreds of testimonials, before and after pictures, and lots of videos, the decision to undergo vertical sleeve gastrectomy surgery is ultimately your own. It can be frustrating, daunting, and even emotionally draining. But, it will also be life-changing…and life-saving…and make you feel thinner, healthier, and full of energy.
So to help you, I’ve taken all the concerns, the questions, and my years of experience helping patients from around the world and condensed them down into 14 things you need to know. Yep, just 14…seven pre-ops and seven post-ops about the VSG surgery.
Everything you ever wanted to know about the sleeve surgery in 14 easy to understand bullet points!
Pre-Op: 7 Things You Should Know About VSG Surgery
1) Energy – The procedure gives those suffering from obesity the option to live a better, healthier life. Imagine being 50, 75, 100, or even 150 pounds lighter. Would that make you feel better? I know it would. I hear it from my patients every day. They have the energy to bike ride, climb mountains and keep up with their kids and grandchildren.
2) Change your life – The gastric sleeve is a surgery that WILL change your life. And change your life it will! Not only will you lose weight, but your overall health will improve. Patients have reported their Type 2 diabetes symptoms have reversed, their blood pressure has decreased, their muscles and joints no longer ache, and the urge to stress eat has disappeared.
3) Tool – Sleeve gastrectomy surgery is only a tool. You have to work with it. Yes, it’s just a tool. But when used correctly can be the very tool that saves your life. The tool gives you a second chance, a do-over, a way to reshape yourself into the person you always wanted to be…thinner, healthier, and more energetic.
4) Temporary speed bumps – Don’t worry, immediate symptoms are only temporary. Keep in mind that they will disappear and all will return to normal. Yes, there are symptoms, I won’t lie to you. But, think of them as speed bumps. They only slow you down for a brief moment, then you are on your way. It’s your body adjusting to the sleeve procedure and the gradual loss of weight you will soon experience.
5) Your journey is unique – Remember not to compare yourself to others. Everyone is different, so individual results will vary. I can’t give you an exact figure of how much weight you will lose, nor how you will feel afterward. What I can tell you based on experience, patient feedback, and actual results is that you will feel and look amazing in a short time.
6) The easy way out…NOT – Some people think this is the easy way out. There’s nothing easy about surgery and lifelong food quantity restrictions. Having VSG surgery is a major decision, but when you’ve tried time and time again to lose weight without success, it’s an option that makes sense. It’s not an easy way out. No way! It’s the biggest life-altering decision you will ever make…but, so worth it in the end. And the food restriction part…won’t even matter when you see how much thinner you’ve become and much healthier you feel.
7) Your journey – This is not a race, but a journey that could take you 12 -18 months. Nope, not a race! It does require patience. You have to be willing to make small incremental adjustments…oh, but it will be so worth it when you see the changes that are taking place.
Post-Op: 7 Things You Should Know About VSG Surgery
1) Junk food is junk – Once your stomach has healed it’s easy to eat junk food: DON’T! Probably the hardest thing to do is resist the urge to eat junk food. But by doing so, you are saying to yourself, “I’m so worth being thin and healthy.” Say, NO to junk food. It’s not good for you anyway…that’s why it’s called “junk”. Nothing but sugar and empty calories! Your body doesn’t need it. Go have some nutritious fruit or veggies instead.
2) Weight loss and the gym – Losing a lot of weight will make going to the gym easier. Life will become a new adventure. Yes, the gym! When was the last time you thought about the gym? Well, the moment you start losing weight as a result of the sleeve procedure your mind will reaffirm the need to firm up and look as awesome as you can. It’s natural. Accept it. You want those muscles to work out. You want people saying, “Wow, you look amazing”. It’s an adventure…live it!
3) When you feel full – STOP – Don’t take one more bite! As time goes by, you will learn to be in tune with your sleeve, how it works and how it makes you feel full. The secret is knowing you don’t have to eat everything on your plate. Nope! In fact, the moment you start to feel full is the moment you stop eating. Don’t feel guilty for not finishing or for offending someone for not eating what they gave you. It’s about you, not them. Never jeopardize your journey of being thinner and healthier over a meatball or cannoli. It’s not worth it.
4) Hunger pains – Those hunger pains might actually be acid. Check with your doctor. Acid build-up can cause the illusion of being hungry. If you are experiencing hunger pains at odd times, consult your doctor. A prescription for an antacid may help clear things up.
5) Eat real food – Do not become dependent on shakes and protein bars after 3-4 months. Shakes and protein bars are helpful the first few months after surgery as they help you adjust to the sleeve while providing your body with the necessary nutrients it requires. Eventually, you will need to replace those shakes and bars with real food. And being able to enjoy real food with your friends and family will mean the world to them and you.
6) Support – Join a private group for support. You can ask questions in real-time and get answers from real people who have experienced VSG surgery. This gives you an unbiased resource that allows you to get the most from your weight loss objectives.
7) Record your journey in photos – Take a monthly picture of yourself, don’t measure success by the numbers on the scale. You might think selfies are lame, but in this case, they will be your motivation to keep going. Yes, a selfie! Every month take a new picture of yourself then put it beside the prior month’s picture. You will start to see yourself changing…getting thinner. The difference may surprise you. Keep it up!