In many respects, our job before and after surgery is to be your coach – making sure you understand and adapt to your new self. Especially in bariatric surgery, we want to help you through what would otherwise be a daunting weight loss process.
It is very important that you are fully aware of the procedure you will be undergoing. Prior to surgery, Dr. Lopez will explain the risks and benefits of surgery, answer your questions and prepare you for the surgical procedure ahead. Further, he will examine your lifestyle and help lay out a plan for your long-term success.
In the early period after your surgery, your physician will check you for problems like infection and bleeding. For weight loss procedures, Dr. Lopez will check to see that your weight loss is appropriate and make sure that you’re not losing weight too quickly or too slowly. Sometimes, there are very simple measures that can be used to regulate these problems. In addition, we will check you for nutritional problems, which may arise due to the changes in your eating habits.
Recovery after bariatric surgery is unique for each and every patient on whom we operate. The time spent in the hospital, the level of discomfort or pain and other considerations vary based on the procedure being performed, a patient’s general health and any unforeseen issues or complications that may have arisen during or after surgery. Generally speaking, the average gastric banding patient will leave the hospital the same day, the average gastric sleeve patient may spend 1 night in the hospital and gastric bypass patients generally spend 1 to 2 nights.
At The Hospital
During the patient’s stay in the hospital, they will be asked to walk around as much as possible in order to increase the circulation of blood throughout the body. Increased circulation means additional oxygen distribution, which in turn reduces the chance of infection and other common complications after surgery. Patients will be actively monitored for complications and infection and pain or discomfort will be treated. Patients will also be asked to wear compression socks when they lie down – again to promote circulation. Pain medication will be offered by the medical staff to ensure patient comfort as the anesthesia wears off.
Once discharged from the hospital, the patient will receive a comprehensive aftercare packet, which will guide them through their dietary and activity requirements. The first few weeks after surgery are the most difficult – patients will be expected to remain on a clear liquid diet, there will be some discomfort as the body heals from the surgical procedure and activity will be limited to some walking and no overexertion. This healing time is important as the body needs the proper balance of activity and rest to heal quickly. This is also the time to practice proper wound care to avoid infection. Patients should change their gauze regularly and always wash their hands before working on the surgical area.
Back to Work and Normalcy
After this preliminary recovery time, patients will begin to eat progressively more textured liquids and solids. After the clear liquid diet, patients will graduate to a modified liquid diet, a soft food diet and then, usually after 6 weeks, a normal solid food diet with restrictions based on calorie, fat and carbohydrate intake. Patients may also be cleared to resume normal activities. However, it is very important that they do not exert themselves beyond their normal bounds until cleared by our office.
Recovery also consists of several postoperative visits to our office. For gastric banding patients these will occur more frequently to achieve ideal restriction. Sleeve and bypass patients will visit a few times in the first six months and then every six months after that. The recovery process can seem long and difficult, however it is an important precursor to successful long-term weight loss. We encourage all of our patients to take their recovery very seriously as it can truly set the stage for great success.