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What Happens If You Eat Solid Food After Gastric Sleeve?

Central Coast Surgery outline how your diet may need to adjust following a gastric sleeve operation.

Posted on 15 Sep, 2022

There's no doubt about it - gastric sleeve surgery can take a toll on your body. If you’ve just completed surgery in 2023, it’s important to follow your doctors’ instructions on what you can and cannot eat after surgery. Eating the wrong things or eating solids too soon after gastric sleeve surgery can set you back in your recovery and (in some cases) cause complications that may require the surgery to be performed again.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what happens if you eat solid food after gastric sleeve surgery and some best practices for the types of food you should be eating in the weeks succeeding surgery. Here's your 2023 guide to eating after gastric sleeve - in the immediate aftermath, and making long term diet decisions. 


What is gastric sleeve surgery?

Before we get into what happens if you eat solid food after gastric sleeve, let’s first define what a gastric sleeve is and how it differs from other popular weight loss surgeries.

Gastric sleeve surgery (also known as a sleeve gastrectomy) is a type of bariatric surgery that involves removing a portion of the stomach. The end result of the procedure is a smaller stomach size which can help with weight loss and ensure that patient does not overeat.

Gastric sleeve surgery is performed as a laparoscopic procedure, which means that small incisions are made in the abdomen and a camera is used to guide the surgical instruments. Your surgeon will then remove a portion of the stomach, typically around 80%, and staples or sutures are used to close off the remaining stomach.


What is the success rate of gastric sleeve surgery?

In 2023, the success rate is very high!

The latest data from the National Library of Medicine indicates that gastric sleeve surgery has a five-year success rate of 96.1%.That means that within five years, 96.1% of patients successfully lose the required weight! Nonetheless, it is on every individual patient's routines and eating habits to not gain weight again. 

To lose weight isn't all that the procedure is known for - gastric sleeve surgery can help to reduce the risk of obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Gastric sleeve surgery can also improve quality of life for patients by reducing or eliminating obesity-related symptoms such as sleep apnoea and joint pain.


Can you eat solid food after gastric sleeve surgery?

You cannot eat solid or soft foods in the days following your surgery. It is recommended to abstain from solid foods for at least two weeks after gastric sleeve surgery - put the snacks down! Avoiding solid food and relying on a liquid diet gives the stomach time to heal and adjust to its new size.

Depending on your situation, some doctors may recommend a longer or shorter waiting period depending on the individual. Your doctor will provide you recommendations based on your unique situation that you should follow.


What happens if you eat solid food too soon after gastric sleeve?

Eating solid foods too soon (in the days following gastric sleeve surgery) may cause some uncomfortable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, and abdominal pain. Eating solid food when your body just isn't ready can also increase your risk of developing a hernia. To avoid these problems, wait until your operating doctor gives you the green light to start eating solid foods again.


Should I avoid eating solid food after gastric sleeve?

In a word – yes!

Each case is different, which is why you should refer to your doctor or operating surgeon for advice around how long you should abstain from solid foods after gastric sleeve surgery.

At some point, it is important that you begin to incorporate some solid foods into your diet to help your stomach to heal, prevent malnutrition, and allow your stomach to slowly become accustomed to processing solid foods once again.

To begin, it is recommended that you start with soft, easily digestible food like soup, pudding, and mashed potatoes that are low in fat, sugar, and non-spicy. Over time, you can progress the complexity of the solid foods that you are eating to a normal nutrition.


Can you ever eat normal after gastric sleeve?

Yes, you can eat normally after gastric sleeve surgery - albeit at a lower quantity than before. In general, most people find that they have an easier time digesting and enjoying a solid diet after the surgery.

Of course, there are a few things to keep in mind after gastric sleeve surgery such as:

Watch your portion sizes: you'll need to be careful about portion sizes.

Listen to your body: Avoid eating too much food. It's important to listen to your body and only eat until you're comfortably full - not past this point.

Avoid certain foods: Avoid foods that are too difficult for your digestive system or that make you feel uncomfortable. More cooked vegetables, less fried foods. 

Eat the right types of food: you'll need to make sure you're getting enough nutrients by eating a balanced diet and taking vitamin and mineral supplements as recommended by your doctor.

But overall, gastric sleeve surgery can help you enjoy food more than ever before!


Wrapping up

If you have had gastric sleeve surgery, it is important to follow your doctor's recommendations regarding what you can and cannot eat. Eating a solid food diet too soon after surgery can cause serious complications and set you back in your recovery.

Some of the most common complications caused by eating solid food too soon after gastric sleeve surgery can include:

1. Gastrointestinal bleeding

2. Infection

3. Obstruction of the stomach outlet

4. Stomach perforation

5. Wound infection

6. Dehiscence (wound separation)

If you experience any of these complications, you must seek medical attention as soon as possible. Gastric sleeve surgery is a major operation and should be treated as such. Following your doctor's recommendations and a nutrition program for post-operative care is the key to ensuring a smooth recovery and long-term weight loss success.