If you’ve been thinking of getting bariatric surgery to help lose weight, your research may have led to your laparoscopic Roux en Y gastric bypasses, single anastomosis duodenal switches, and more. And you start to wonder if the surgeries hurt as much as trying to pronounce them does! But, seriously: how painful is gastric sleeve surgery?

In actuality, a gastric sleeve surgery is much less invasive than either a gastric bypass or duodenal switch, so there are fewer incisions needed. But in all three cases, laparoscopic surgery is used instead of open incisions that are much bigger and take longer to heal.

With laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery, surgeons can now perform the procedure using small incisions, resulting in less trauma to the stomach and surrounding areas. Laparoscopic surgery generally leads to reduced pain, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery compared to open surgery.

Before laparoscopic surgery, gastric sleeve surgery was typically performed as an open procedure, which involved making a large incision in the abdomen to access the stomach. The open approach often resulted in more pain and discomfort for patients during the recovery period compared to laparoscopic surgery.

Is Gastric Sleeve Surgery Painful?

It’s completely normal to feel a little scared about undergoing gastric sleeve surgery, especially when it comes to concerns about pain. After all, part of your stomach is being removed! While the idea of surgery can be intimidating, it’s important to remember that improved surgical tools have made the procedure much more manageable in terms of pain.

During the surgery itself, you won’t feel any pain because you’ll be under anesthesia and the surgical team will ensure you’re comfortable throughout the procedure. However, it’s after the surgery when you may experience some discomfort. You might feel soreness and tenderness in your abdomen as your body heals from the changes made to your stomach.

The pain levels are different for everyone: some may be more tolerant of the healing process than others. But in most cases, there are steps that can be taken to help the recovery stage of the gastric sleeve procedure. And while WeightWise has a very success rate, any surgery runs the risk of potential complications.

It’s important to know that your healthcare team will provide pain medicines to help manage any discomfort you may experience during the recovery period. They’ll also give you guidance on how to care for yourself post-surgery to lessen pain and promote healing.

How Can I Reduce Pain of Gastric Sleeve Surgery?

If you’re feeling worried about the pain associated with the procedure, there are several steps you can take to help reduce pain after a gastric sleeve:

    • Listen to your doctor
    • Stay hydrated
    • Watch what you eat
    • Ice/Heat
    • Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions

Your healthcare team will provide specific guidelines for managing pain after surgery. Follow these instructions carefully, including taking prescription pain medications as directed and sticking to any activity restrictions. They may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen for mild discomfort.

We will also advise you to balance rest and activity during the recovery period. While it’s essential to get enough rest to allow your body to heal, gentle movement and walking can also help prevent stiffness and improve circulation. Avoid strenuous activities and heavy lifting until cleared by your surgeon.

In most cases, you can return to normal day-to-day activities like walking, grocery shopping, and other light activities within a day or two. If your job requires lifting large amounts of weight, you should plan on taking a few weeks off from work.

But your surgeon will let you know when you can start ramping up physical activity or returning to work. During this time, avoid lifting anything heavy and stop any weight-lifting routines you may have been following to give your body time to heal. Eventually, you’ll be able to increase the amount of weight you can work with.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated after gastric sleeve surgery plays a crucial role in managing pain. It helps to reduce inflammation in your body, including the surgical site. By staying hydrated, you support your body’s natural healing processes and may experience less pain as a result.

Hydration is important for promoting tissue healing after surgery, too. Water is necessary for bringing nutrients and oxygen to cells throughout your body. When you’re hydrated, your body can efficiently repair damaged tissues, which may help with post-op pain.

Constipation is a common side effect after surgery, which can worsen if you’re dehydrated. By drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, you help keep your digestive system moving smoothly and reduce the risk of constipation-related pain. Drinking enough fluids can also help with potential blood clots.

Remember to sip water frequently throughout the day, aiming for at least 96 ounces of fluids unless otherwise instructed. Start with small sips–never gulp your water as this can fill up your smaller stomach and cause discomfort or even injury.

Watch What You Eat

Gastric sleeve surgery limits the amount of food you can eat at one time. So you’ll need to follow a modified diet after surgery, including two weeks of an all-liquid diet. After your gastric sleeve surgery, your stomach needs time to heal and adjust to its new size and shape. Following an all-liquid diet helps ease the transition to eating solid food and supports recovery.

At the start, your stomach is sensitive, and eating solid foods too soon could lead to complications such as nausea, vomiting, or stomach irritation. By sticking to a liquid diet, you reduce the risk of experiencing these issues and give your stomach time to adjust gradually. WeightWise will outline a complete diet for you in the weeks and months after surgery.

Ice Pack and Heating Pads

Applying ice packs or heating pads to the area can help ease discomfort and reduce inflammation. Laparoscopic surgery incisions are relatively small to begin with, but if you are experiencing pain or discomfort, alternating ice packs and heating pads can help.

Ice packs are used to reduce inflammation and numb the area. Ice packs are particularly helpful during the first few days after surgery when swelling is most significant. Heating pads provide soothing warmth to the affected area and help relax tense muscles white increasing blood flow to the surgical site.

This can promote healing and alleviate muscle stiffness and discomfort. But it’s essential to use them following your surgeon’s direction. If you’re experiencing significant pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to reach out to your team at WeightWise. We can adjust your pain management plan or provide additional support and guidance as needed.

Managing Pain After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

While any weight loss procedure involves some level of discomfort during the recovery process, advancements in surgical techniques, including the shift to laparoscopic approaches, have helped minimize pain and improve overall patient outcomes for gastric sleeve surgery.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. At WeightWise, you’ll have a whole team to support you every step of the way, from pre-surgery preparations to post-operative care. Your bariatric surgeon, patient advocate, and others will be available to answer any questions or calm and fears you may have.

Don’t hesitate to share your concerns with us so we can address them and help alleviate any fears you may have about the pain associated with gastric sleeve surgery. Your well-being and comfort are top priorities throughout the entire process.

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