Q&A – One Year Post Op Gastric Sleeve

With me celebrating one year since I had my gastric sleeve surgery, I thought what better way than to do a Q&A!

On March 14th 2019 I celebrated my one year gastric sleeve surgery milestone! I went to visit my surgeon, Dr Jon Morrow at Auckland Weight Loss Surgery and shared this on Instagram asking what questions you have for me one year post op! I’ve answered them below for you all.

How much weight did you lose in your first year post op gastric sleeve?

At my lowest, I had lost a total of 67 kilos/148 pounds but currently steadily sit at a loss of 64 kilos/141 pounds.

Was your surgeon surprised/happy with your results you had in your first year?

Yes! He was very pleased by the amount of weight I had lost as we had exceeded more than 100% of the excess weight I had above what is deemed healthy. Generally they set a target for 70% of the excess weight to be reduced. He was proud of the work I had put in to make the tool that is weight loss surgery work for me as best as it could.

What are your portions like a year later? Do u find u can eat more than in the beginning?

I can definitely eat significantly more at one year than I could throughout the first 6-8 months. I can eat significantly more if I graze/snack on food or don’t allocate a specific time period. Also, if I choose the wrong foods to eat that are low in nutrients I find myself being able to eat significantly more – e.g. bags of chips, chocolate and cookies.

Do you fear regaining now that you have hit one year and can eat more?

I try not to put my energy or focus into fearing things that don’t exist because I’m a genuine believer in manifestation and what you put out in the universe will come back to you. In saying that, I am mindful of regain and prevent this by keeping a healthy and structured routine. I also have experts such as a nutritionist and personal trainer who are monitoring my weight, fitness levels and food on a regular basis also so that I don’t regain or go off track.

How long did you wait before drinking alcohol?

I started drinking around the 6 month mark starting with vodka sodas and then wine and cocktails. Now at one year post op I can drink all alcohol beverages including champagne.

Do you think you could have ever got as small as you have without surgery?

I had lost a significant amount of weight (50 kilos/110 pounds) prior to undergoing weight loss surgery however it wasn’t maintainable as the underlying cause was my hunger/appetite. The surgery really helped me to control this and helped me to get as small as I am. I think had I been able to maintain the diet/lifestyle I was doing when previously loosing weight naturally, I would have gotten to the size I am now with weight loss surgery at some point.

Have you got a lot of loose skin since having weight loss surgery and losing weight so quickly?

I have a fair amount of loose skin with the significant weight loss which is expected given the size I was verses the size I am now. I’ve gone from a size 24-26 to a size 6-8 in New Zealand clothing size. It’s mainly on my inner thighs and bum but also my lower tummy area, upper arms and breasts. I’ve done what I can do keep my skin as healthy as possible which has meant that the appearance of my loose skin isn’t as obvious.

Are you going to be looking into plastic surgery? Tummy tuck, breast augmentation etc?

This is something I’ve been umming and ahhing over for a little while now. At first, I was certain it was something I was going to do shortly after a year post op gastric sleeve surgery however my loose skin isn’t as excessive as I thought it would be and is manageable on a day to day basis. I’ve had recommendation from my doctor to leave it until 2 years post op and considering ideally I’d like to have children in the next 3-5 years I’m now considering not getting any plastic surgery until after that as I don’t want to invest money into removing the loose skin only to have to redo the cosmetic surgeries a few years later.

What are the biggest side effects you have experienced post surgery to one year?

A few of the side effects I had initially were nausea and constipation. These were both the biggest side effects and involved medication for 4-6 months. Both required a lot of attention otherwise caused significant pain. Other things I experienced were low blood pressure, fatigue and minor reflux as I worked through each of the stages and learnt how to tolerate food but that was completely normal.

What are some foods/drinks if any you’ve tried but your stomach can still not tolerate?

At one year post op I can tolerate most foods. However this wasn’t always the case. In the early days I struggled with anything high in fat such as eggs and salmon as well as most crunchy vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and any leafy greens that weren’t well cooked. More towards the 6 month mark onwards I adapted more pescatarian and vegetarian based diet as I found red meat and chicken quite difficult to digest due to how fibrous it is. Generally the things I can’t tolerate now are oily, high in fats and carb heavy all at once.

Did you find it easier to make healthier decisions after the surgery?

I think I had a really strong mindset and a goal I was working towards so healthier decisions and good practises definitely were easier to make. I also had quite a lot of spotlight on me sharing my journey which helped keep me accountable.

How did you distract yourself when you weren’t able to eat in the early days post op?

I would often keep myself busy by starting new projects, investing time into other people or doing activities that didn’t involve food! It was a fun time and I feel like my friendships developed so much more with the quality time I was spending with people that didn’t involve alcohol or food.

Do you feel that the weight loss surgery has negatively affected your social life?

In the early days, yes because all socialising revolved around food or alcohol so it did make it difficult. Because I was so open about my journey my friends were aware of my situation so would often make sure there was something I could eat or drink on the menu when it came to events. I still could go out and enjoy myself and it was more so where I had to be patient and strict with myself by implementing self control. Putting food aside, the actual weight loss surgery has improved my social life in such a positive way!

What do you currently eat in a day now that’s you’re one year post op?

I post about what I eat in a day over on my Instagram and have a few pinned to my highlights but I’ll also be posting a blog post and a Youtube video with examples of what I eat in a day one year post op weight loss surgery. Keep an eye out.

How did you stay constant on your journey?

I invested in a lot of experts in their fields to keep me accountable and on track such as a nutritionist, personal trainer and bariatric coach. This helped me incredibly! I also remind myself why I chose this journey. For me, I wanted to be the healthiest version of me in all areas – mind, body and soul. When I remember that, I keep focused and stay on track.

Can you give some advise for those about to start their own WLS journey?
  • 100% focus on your own journey! Do not compare yourself, your goals or your achievements to anyone but your own.
  • Be sure to celebrate every milestone you pass because progress will always be more important than perfection. Don’t let the number on the scales, insecurities or loose skin stop you from recognising and celebrating your progress. You won’t be happy at the destination if you don’t enjoy the journey.
  • When you’re unsure or in need of guidance, seek experts in their field to use their skills and knowledge to help you achieve your goals. They are your best bet at helping you through these phases.

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