Weight Loss Expectations After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

by | Nov 30, 2023 | Understanding Weight Loss Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery, also known as sleeve gastrectomy, is a popular weight loss procedure, and one of the most commonly performed by surgeons here in Queensland. It involves removing a portion of your stomach to promote significant weight loss. If you’re thinking about gastric sleeve surgery, it’s natural to wonder how much weight you can expect to lose. And there is no one answer, as every body is different, however there are averages we can look toward. It’s important to note, there can be many factors which influence weight loss, which I’ll discuss. I’ll also delve into the factors that positively influence weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery. Hopefully, it provides you with a realistic understanding of the amount of weight you can potentially lose and the best way to get there.

In this article:

  • Initial weight loss phase
  • Individual factors that influence weight loss after gastric sleeve
  • Long-term weight loss expectations
  • Other health benefits gastric sleeve may bring
  • Maximise health and weight loss after gastric sleeve
  • Managing your mindset
  • Surgery is a tool

The initial weight loss phase

The anatomical and metabolic changes caused by the gastric sleeve procedure generally result in rapid weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery. Steady weight loss usually continues for the first 12 – 18 months. During this time, patients lose on average about 60-70% of their excess body weight.
If you are experiencing easy weight loss in this time, it can be tempting to let the surgery do all the work as your weight comes down, but this would be a mistake. The first 12 months are what we call a “honeymoon phase” where we see the most metabolic benefit from surgery. After this time rapid weight loss generally declines.

Rather than being a time to coast along, it is a crucial time to reset your diet, exercise, and mindset towards healthier habits. That way, when the honeymoon is over, as it invariably will be at some point, you’ve spent the time investing in a healthy lifestyle to support you for the long term.

Individual factors that influence weight loss after gastric sleeve

It is important to note, that not everyone loses weight like this after gastric sleeve. For some, it’s a slower process. One important thing I like to remind patients experiencing this, is that any weight loss is positive for your health and wellbeing.The amount of weight you lose with gastric sleeve surgery can vary depending on several individual factors. These include:

  • Your starting weight. Generally, individuals with a higher initial weight tend to lose a greater amount of weight after the surgery. This is because they typically have more excess weight to lose. However, percentage-wise, those with a higher BMI may not experience as much overall percentage of weight loss.
  • Age. Younger patients tend to experience more substantial weight loss compared to older individuals. Metabolism tends to be higher in younger people, contributing to increased calorie burning.
    Overall health. Existing medical conditions, such as diabetes or hormonal imbalances, can affect the rate of weight loss.
  • Lifestyle modification. Adhering to post-surgery dietary guidelines, exercise, and lifestyle changes can also influence outcomes.
weight loss after gastric sleeve body mass measurement_

Long term weight loss expectations

Beyond the initial weight loss phase, the rate of weight loss will usually stabilise. It is helpful to have realistic expectations for long-term weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery. While individual results may vary, patients can generally expect to maintain a weight loss of 50-60% of their excess body weight over the long term.

Other health benefits gastric sleeve may bring

Gastric sleeve surgery not only promotes weight loss but also offers significant health benefits. Many patients experience improvements in obesity-related health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnoea, and joint pain. These positive outcomes are significant, and should be celebrated just as enthusiastically, (if not more so!) than anything the scales says.

Maximise health and weight loss after gastric sleeve

To maximize the benefits of gastric sleeve surgery and maintain weight loss over time, adopting healthy lifestyle changes is crucial. This includes following a well-balanced diet, engaging in regular physical activity, managing stress, and establishing a support system. It has been shown time and again, that a comprehensive post-operative follow-up program is one of the most important factors determining your success after bariatric surgery.

So who should you follow up with?

Your surgical team. Ongoing surgical follow-up care plays a crucial role in achieving lasting weight loss success. Dr McLeod and our dedicated team is here to support you at various intervals after your surgery, following a personalised schedule. We are here to be your cheer squad, keep you accountable, and ensure you are maintaining great health and nutrition.

G.P.. Your General Practitioner (G.P.) plays an important role in monitoring your nutritional status, weight, and any pre-existing health conditions. Maintaining open communication with your referring G.P. is highly beneficial. As is open communication between your bariatric surgeon and G.P.

Allied health practitioners. We support you to build a multidisciplinary team of allied health specialists championing your success. Seeing a dietitian before and after surgery is mandatory, as they provide essential nutritional guidance. You should also follow up with them regularly to ensure your nutritional status is optimal. Additionally, we advise consulting with an exercise specialist or physiotherapist, along with a psychologist. The extent of care depends on your individual needs, but periodic check-ins with these specialists are always beneficial. Their expertise in bariatric care ensures up-to-date and impactful advice.

Managing your mindset

Cultivating a positive and determined mindset is paramount for long-term success. The habits of mind help you to focus on achieving yourr goals, and keep you taking the necessary actions you need to take for sustainable weight loss. To support you in this aspect, we highly recommend including our psychologist as a valued member of your weight loss team. They possess the expertise to equip you with the necessary mental tools for success.

Surgery is a tool

Gastric sleeve surgery can be an effective tool for achieving substantial weight loss and improving overall health. While the amount of weight lost varies from person to person, understanding the factors that influence weight loss can help set realistic expectations. Remember, the surgery is just one part of the journey; making lifelong lifestyle changes is essential for long-term success. Consult with a qualified healthcare professional to determine if gastric sleeve surgery is the right option for you and to create a personalised plan for achieving your weight loss goals.

Disclaimer: This article is of a general nature for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice. A 1:1 consultation with a medical professional is always the best approach in order to receive accurate information which is tailored to your individual situation. 

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About Dr Garth McLeod

Dr Garth McLeod is a Sunshine Coast General and Bariatric Surgeon. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) in general surgery, with subspecialty training in obesity and metabolic surgery. Dr McLeod adopts a whole-patient approach to bariatric care with a multidisciplinary team