Bariatric Surgery Aftercare
While bariatric surgery itself is very important, aftercare is the key to sustained weight loss and disease resolution success over the long-term. This is why we place such an emphasis on lifestyle changes after surgery. To be sure, life after surgery is not simple. Patients will not be eating many of the foods they once enjoyed, and significant physical changes can also cause a psychological shift that is most often beneficial but can also be challenging. In this guide, we discuss the various aspects of bariatric surgery aftercare and how to navigate this process for optimal health and maximum weight loss.
At The Hospital
No one enjoys a hospital stay and we go to great lengths ensuring your stay is minimized. However, the recovery process at the hospital or ambulatory surgery center is an important one. During this time, Dr. Henke and a team of specially trained nurses will be checking on you regularly. Our goal is to ensure that your recovery from the procedure progresses quickly and to determine when you’re ready for discharge. Here’s what to expect:
- Anesthesia will wear off quickly, usually within 2-3 hours of surgery
- You will experience some discomfort which can be easily managed with pain medication
- You will be constantly monitored by the nursing staff and Dr. Henke
- You will be asked to walk around often to improve circulation, absorb gas from surgery, and prevent blood clots
- Everyone has a different pain threshold and you should not be embarrassed to ask for medication
- Some patients may require narcotic pain medication
- For most, Tylenol is sufficient to manage the pain
- Pain can come from the incisions themselves or trapped gas in the abdomen
- Discharge date depends on your progression in recovery
- Typical stay for bypass patients 1-3 nights if performed laparoscopically
- Typical stay for sleeve patients 1-2 nights if performed laparoscopically
- Add a night or two for open surgery
- Have someone drive you home and help with chores around the house
Congratulations! You’re home! Being discharged from the hospital and arriving at home is both exciting and daunting. While you have jumped the first hurdle associated with the bariatric surgery recovery process, it can be daunting not to have clinical staff around you offering advice and tending to your needs. This is where preparation comes in very handy. Indeed, we encourage all of our patients to start early– far before surgery– to make sure that their recovery process is as stress-free as possible.
- Limit yourself to light housework for the first few weeks
- Walk as much as you can without feeling pain or significant discomfort
- Light resistance bands after 2 weeks is encouraged
- Do not lift more than 15 pounds for about 4 weeks
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water
- Always use a new dressing when checking or cleaning your wound
- Do not submerge your wound for at least 2 weeks
- Do not remove your Dermabond, it will fall off by themselves
- Do not use unapproved ointments or creams
As you have likely read, both before your procedure and in your aftercare packet, one of the most common, but easily managed considerations after bariatric surgery is getting enough vitamins and minerals. When your food consumption is limited, either through restriction by making the stomach smaller or malabsorption, where caloric absorption in the intestine is limited, we run the risk of not getting sufficient nutrients.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day
- Avoid caffeine and carbonation
- Water can be difficult, warm liquids and those with additives can be easier
The diet over the first few weeks of recovery is specially formulated to reduce stress on your stomach and intestinal tract. It is also optimized to balance health with caloric restriction. Fluids and electrolytes must be replaced. Therefore, following your post-op dietary plan is very important.
Constipation, unfortunately, is likely after surgery. This is usually a side effect of anesthesia combined a modified G.I. tract and lifestyle changes. On the positive side however, it is often short-lived and rarely problematic.
After a surgical procedure and a few weeks of getting used to a new lifestyle, it is often very exciting to get back into the groove at work. Following are a few tips to help you with the transition back to work to avoid common mistakes
We may not be there to guide you in person, but we want you to know that Dr. Henke and the entire office staff is ready to assist you with any postoperative questions or concerns you may have. Once you are home, it is important that you communicate any unusual sensations, pain, discomfort and more. While complications are rare, they are possible and need to be addressed quickly. Here are some rules of thumb to follow when you’re back home: First, and most importantly, if you believe you are having a medical emergency, Dial 911 immediately