The postoperative gastric sleeve diet plays a crucial role in the patient's recovery. This diet has several objectives, all of them equally important.

Know the reasoan for its indicated duration and the benefits for the bariatric patient of correct adherence to the diet.

Why is it necessary to follow a liquid diet after surgery?

Goal #1: Avoid Discomfort

By following a diet that passes easily through the recently operated stomach, discomfort is avoided, and the risk of the liquid becoming stuck and causing an increase in pressure inside the stomach is reduced. High pressure in this organ can considerably increase the chances of a complication such as a gastric leak, one of the most feared complications of gastric sleeve surgery.

This is why we always insist to our patients that in the preoperative diet phase (in case they need it), an adherence of 99% or slightly less will surely not bring consequences. Still, in the case of the postoperative diet for weight loss surgery, an adherence of 99.9% will not be enough since with a single time that the indications are not followed, there is a risk of complications.

Objective # 2: Start a new lifestyle as soon as possible

This factor might not be the probable cause of a complication, but it is the beginning of the new life that every patient is looking for when undergoing weight loss surgery.

Many patients make the mistake of thinking that surgery will do everything for them, but the reality is that if they are not supported by a bariatric group with a multidisciplinary team, it will be challenging to achieve the success of those who are supported and guided by the different areas during their recovery and adaptation process.

The postoperative diet marks a before and after in the patient's life and their relationship with food. Although we are not saying that they will not be able to eat anything, they must learn to measure portions and monitor food quality. And what is better than starting with a slow and progressive process in terms of the consistency of the diet?

Objective #3: Go slowly and safely

Last but not least, it is essential to progress the diet little by little to allow the patient and the stomach time to adapt to the drastic change in size that it will undergo. The approximate capacity of a stomach is 50 oz on average, and after gastric sleeve surgery, a capacity between 3 to 4 oz is calculated during the first few months after surgery.

This leads to very different sensations and perceptions of the amount of liquid/food that will fit in this new stomach. If the patient feels full and satisfied the first days with only liquids as light as water, juices, and broths, let's imagine if at that moment he eats a piece of meat or bread: it would be too uncomfortable, even painful, and dangerous.

This is the reason why the consistency of the food is progressively changed so that the patient can adapt little by little over the days while the stomach's swelling reduces and it is completely healed.

What to eat and what not to eat during the pre-op liquid diet?

As we mentioned before, the diet is progressive. It begins with clear liquids, where what is really important is not whether the light passes through the fluid or not, but its consistency, for example, grape juice that is very dark but has a very light/thin consistency.

In the second phase, progress is made to full liquids, where the consistency can be thicker.

In the third phase, porridge and hard-boiled or scrambled eggs are added.

And finally, in the fourth phase, the solids are integrated. The specific foods are mentioned in this article on the preoperative diet, where you can see more details about what each phase includes.

How long should I follow this postoperative diet?

The postoperative gastric sleeve diet has a very variable duration and depends almost entirely on the bariatric group with which you will have your weight loss surgery. For example, some do not prescribe the preoperative diet regardless of the patient's body mass index (BMI). In the postoperative phase, they start directly with full and thick liquids to reach solids at 3 or 4 weeks.

In our case, being aware of how discomfort, pain, nausea, and/or vomiting can be triggered if the diet is progressed too quickly, we consider that it is entirely unnecessary to rush the process and even more so when it comes to changes that must be drastic and strict if the patient is committed to their surgery, bariatric group and themselves.

In addition, the truth is that, as we tell our patients, the postoperative diet is much easier to carry out once the surgery is working for them, helping them to feel less appetite and early satiety that lasts longer in most cases.

You should note that even after having recent surgery, it is entirely normal to feel little or a considerable appetite if you have been fasting for 24 hours and 24 with only liquids. Surgery is not something magical that will altogether remove the craving. Still, it will reduce it and increase the time it takes to appear, but it does not eliminate it. Once the patient enters a later phase with porridge or solids, they will be able to notice more clearly the significant effect of gastric sleeve surgery in reducing appetite.

Being honest with yourself

We want to make an observation considering previous experiences with potential patients who did or did not come for surgery with us.

It frequently happens, especially around these dates, when patients do not want to schedule their surgery near holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year.

When we ask them the reason for this, when their argument is that they do not want to lose the opportunity of the foods that are usually abundant on these dates, we openly tell them that if they are thinking that way, it is probable that they are not prepared to undergo surgery, or that if they have surgery, it will probably only be a matter of time before they gain the weight back.

In these cases, some take it well and decide to have surgery even sooner; others feel we have touched sensitive nerves. The reality is that we must be honest with ourselves, and at Obesity Free, we are honest with our patients so as not to offer them false expectations or feed wrong expectations.

The decision to undergo weight loss surgery is not an easy decision, but one that entails a lot of effort from the point of view not only financially but also emotionally and personally, but it is a decision that must be made fully aware of why and for what it is being done. The only thing I would like to insist on is that the main regret of patients is not having had surgery before once they see the enormous benefits of gastric sleeve surgery.