What to expect from gastric sleeve surgery

Mr Abuchi Okaro

Here’s some things you should know if you are thinking about getting gastric sleeve surgery.

Mr Abuchi Okaro, a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England is an experienced Consultant Surgeon who specialises in general surgery, upper gastrointestinal (GI) and bariatrics, will help you to decide if gastric sleeve surgery is the right fit for you.

“I joined Benenden Hospital in 2020 and I’ve been doing Upper GI and General Bariatrics Surgery for about 17 years now.” Mr Okaro is a member of an experienced team of weight loss consultants at our hospital.

He undertook his basic and higher surgical training in both the UK and Japan. Mr Okaro completed his master’s degree in Surgery from University College London (UCL) in 2004.

What is Gastric sleeve surgery?

Gastric sleeve surgery (gastrectomy) removes about 70-80% of the stomach, leaving behind a smaller ‘sleeve’. This means you can eat less before feeling full.

Mr Okaro explains: “The sleeve is a technical bariatric operation that modifies the size of your stomach to create a narrowing or restriction in your stomach. The benefits of this surgery are that you don’t get as hungry and feel full quite quickly.

“Most importantly, there are a lot of hormonal changes that occur inside the gastrointestinal system that create further benefits of the surgery which are of course, losing weight and lowering blood sugar.”

At what point should someone book an initial consultation?

Mr Abuchi Okaro advises: “If you’ve come across an article, or you know of a friend who has had gastric sleeve surgery and you begin to have this feeling inside of you that says- ‘maybe I need some help’- I think that’s the time to start really exploring your options by talking to somebody.

“Now of course these are just early discussions and it’s very important to separate the facts from opinions and fiction. That’s why talking to a Nurse, Dietitian or Consultant here at Benenden Hospital is essential for you to make a decision based on those facts.”

Losing weight isn’t easy. You may recognise that you’re overweight but struggle with weight loss. When your general health starts to be affected, it’s time to look at all options to help you get back on track.

The journey from consultation through to recovery

Before surgery

“The first phase is about you, the patient, gathering as much information as possible and being clear on the reasons behind wanting to opt for Gastric Sleeve Surgery. This is something we spend a lot of time trying to do- myself, the Dietitians, the Nurses and of course the patient bookings team will guide you through the process.”

Once a date for your surgery is agreed, you’ll need to follow a strict diet in the two weeks before the operation to prepare your body for the procedure. A pre-operative diet will help shrink your liver, allowing your surgeon to operate more easily and safely.

You’ll also be advised to stop smoking as smoking will increase your risk of getting an infection after surgery, which can slow down your recovery and lead to other complications.

During surgery

During the surgery, you’ll be given a general anaesthetic and the procedure will be done using keyhole surgery. Part of your stomach will be stapled and removed, leaving behind a smaller stomach. Gastric sleeve surgery takes around 60-90 minutes to perform.

“Once you’ve had the operation patients are drinking and walking around the next day and can be discharged home.


“The next phase requires patients to be very mindful about what they eat and drink. For example, when you start to drink, it’s important that you don’t cause any damage to your new stomach, so we give you very clear advice about what liquids you should drink for about three to four weeks.

“The third phase is really getting back to normal diet which can take up to four to six weeks after phase two. Then it’s all about you settling down into a new routine that works for you. So usually at about three months people have developed a good routine.

“There’ll be different foods that you have to get used to. But you’ll be working closely with our hospital’s expert Nutritionist or Dietician to tailor your experience to you, your pallet and your diet.”

A gastric sleeve patient can expect to drop one to two pounds a week and you may find that you lose weight faster at first before it stabilises.


Private weight loss surgery at Benenden Hospital

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Published on 24 January 2022