What to Expect Following Bariatric Surgery

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What is Bariatric Surgery?
The purpose of bariatric surgery is to reduce the amount of your food intake by making you feel satisfied sooner, thus causing weight loss. Most bariatric surgeries are performed using laparoscopic (minimally invasive) techniques.

The most commonly used bariatric surgeries are the gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band, and duodenal switch, each having advantages and disadvantages, depending on the patient.

You’ve had Bariatric Surgery. What Now?
Having bariatric surgery is a life-altering event, and in more respects than simply the loss of a great deal of weight. (Ask your doctor about what to expect.)

If you suffered a weight-related medical problem, it will likely improve following surgery. Research has shown that almost all those who have undergone bariatric surgery report the qualities of their lives to be better for having had it.

If your bariatric surgery was performed laparoscopically (most is), you will likely remain in the hospital for 2 – 3 days. If open surgery (requiring a larger cut) was necessary, the hospital stay will be extended, as the healing will involve a longer time.

You will need assistance at home for a time following discharge. (Driving, meal preparation, dressing, help with medication, etc.)

Normal activity may generally be resumed within 3 – 5 weeks, or as your doctor advises.

Possible Side Effects Following Bariatric Surgery

Following discharge from the hospital, most people suffer few problems of significance. The most common side effects of bariatric surgery include:

  • Constipation
  • Gallstones
  • Dumping syndrome, food moving too quickly from stomach to small bowel
  • Surgical site infection
  • Sagging skin
  • Lowered energy
  • Pain

More serious side effects, usually occurring within five days and needing immediate medical attention, include:

  • Bleeding in stool
  • Leaks in the newly created linkage of body parts, causing abdominal pain and nausea
  • Blood clots to lungs
  • Temperature more than 101°F
  • Pain that persists with use of pain medicine
  • Inability to eat or drink
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Persistent coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Continued puss-like drainage that increases, becomes thick, and has a bad odor

After your surgery, the weight will come off quickly for the first 3-6 months. As your body acclimates to the change and your weight stabilizes, you may experience some of the following:

  • Body aches
  • Dry skin
  • Hair thinning or loss
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold

Post- Bariatric Surgery Lifestyle

Since bariatric surgery changes the way your body handles the food you eat, it is of vital importance that you follow your doctor’s instructions. Remarkable results are within your grasp, but only if lifestyle changes support the procedure.

Suggestions that help ensure the best results from your surgery include the following:

  • Adopting a detailed nutrition plan that includes the necessary nutrients, according to your doctor and/or nutritionist
  • Eating small, frequent meals
    • Chewing food slowly and completely, resting 2-3 minutes between bites
    • Avoiding foods high in sugar and fat
    • Including foods with high protein
    • Eating fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Avoiding drinking fluids and eating at the same time
    • Having planned meals and mealtimes
    • Avoiding snacking
  • Following your doctor’s recommendations concerning supplements
  • Drinking 8 – 10 glasses of water daily
  • Exercising (gently) right away, building up over time
    • Walking around the house, using stairs
    • Stopping an activity that hurts
    • Lifting no more than 10 – 15 pounds, pushing or pulling objects, or driving and operating heavy machinery (if you are on a narcotic for pain) for 2- 4 weeks after surgery

Always follow your doctor’s instructions for wound care. Tips for caring for your wound, with his or her approval, include the following:

  • Wearing only clothing that neither binds nor rubs your incisions
  • Keeping dressing on wound dry and clean
  • Bathing or showering only after your doctor gives approval
  • Covering wound sneezing or coughing

To Make Bariatric Surgery Successful, Do your Work

Bariatric surgery guarantees neither a cure for obesity nor any of the diseases caused by it. Instead, it makes all the dieting and exercise that you’ve done or continue to do finally succeed by making you feel full with lesser amounts of food.

The most important thing you can do after surgery is to follow your doctor’s instructions, contacting him or her if you have questions or are in doubt about how to handle what you are experiencing.