Bariatric Surgery – Frequently Asked Questions
- Recovery After Surgery
- Weight Loss and Diet after Bariatric Surgery
- Physical Appearance after Weight Loss Surgery
- Pregnancy, Lifestyle and Other Questions about Bariatric Surgery
Recovery after SurgeryHow long do I have to stay in the hospital after bariatric surgery?
You will be hospitalized as long as it takes for you to recover sufficiently and become self-sufficient. Although it can vary, the hospital stay (including the day of surgery) can be a short outpatient surgery for the laparoscopic adjustable gastric band placement, 1-2 days for laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass, or anywhere from 3-7 days for any open procedure with larger wounds.
Will I have a lot of pain after surgery?
Every attempt is made to control pain after surgery to make it possible for you to move about and become active quickly. This helps avoid problems and speeds recovery. Often several drugs are used together to help manage your post-surgery pain.
How soon will I be able to walk after surgery?
Almost immediately after surgery doctors will require you to get up and begin moving. Typically, patients are asked to walk or stand at the bedside on the night of surgery, take several walks the next day and thereafter. On leaving the hospital, you may be able to care for all your personal needs, but you will need help with shopping, lifting and with transportation.
How soon can I drive?
For your own safety, you should not drive until you have stopped taking narcotic pain medications and can move quickly and alertly to stop your car, especially in an emergency. Usually this takes one to two weeks after surgery.
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Weight Loss and Diet after Bariatric SurgeryHow much weight can I expect to lose after surgery?
The amount and rate at which you lose excess body weight varies depending on the type of surgery, the starting weight, and compliance with dieting, exercise, and vitamin intake.
How soon should I see weight loss after surgery?
You can lose as much as 10-20 pounds in the first two weeks after surgery and as much as 30-45 pounds in the first month – however this depends on many factors and will be carefully monitored by your doctor.
What are the dietary guidelines after weight loss surgery?
Generally, patients start with only liquids immediately after surgery, then proceed from pureed foods through soft foods and then into a regular, high-protein diet. Lifelong vitamins and minerals, and perhaps protein drink supplements, will be required. (See health care and diet after bariatric surgery.)
What happens if I do not obey my dietary guidelines after surgery?
If you do not follow the guidelines after having bariatric surgery, you can still be obese and not successfully lose weight. In addition, you can be malnourished at the same time, putting your health at further risk. (See bariatric surgery risks and complications.)
Is exercise an important factor after weight loss surgery?
Exercise is critical to successful weight loss, as well as long-term cardiovascular health. Remember, weight loss surgery only minimizes calorie intake. Daily exercise allows for the excess fat in your body to be burned off.
What is Dumping Syndrome?
Eating sugars or other foods containing many small particles when you have an empty stomach can cause “dumping syndrome” in patients who have had a gastric bypass. Your body handles these small particles by diluting them with water, which reduces your blood volume and causes a shock-like state. Sugar may also induce insulin shock due to the altered physiology of your intestinal tract.
Dumping syndrome results in a very unpleasant feeling: you break out in a cold clammy sweat, turn pale, feel "butterflies" in your stomach, and have a pounding pulse. Cramps and diarrhea may follow. This state can last for 30-60 minutes and can be quite uncomfortable. You may have to lie down until it goes away. This syndrome can be avoided by not eating the foods that cause it, especially on an empty stomach. A small amount of sweets, such as fruit, can sometimes be well tolerated at the end of a meal.
Can I drink alcohol after undergoing surgery?
No. We encourage you not to drink alcohol after surgery, for the rest of your life.
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Physical Appearance after Weight Loss SurgeryI heard that you can lose hair after weight loss surgery; is this true?
Yes. Hair loss is usually related to hormonal changes due to rapid weight loss after surgery. Usually hair loss is temporary, and the hair grows back. Of course, if there are problems with inadequate nutrition, hair loss may also be related to malnutrition that needs to be checked and corrected.
Some patients have found success in taking "hair and nail supplements" found at most vitamin stores. These vitamin formulations contain extra B vitamins, flax seed oil, coenzyme Q and other supplements that may help. These results are not guaranteed.
Will I need plastic surgery to eliminate excess skin?
The amount of excess skin, especially in the abdominal area, depends on a number of factors:
- The amount of weight lost after bariatric surgery -- The more weight lost, the more excess skin.
- Age -- Younger patients may have better elasticity in their skin than older patients.
- Exercise -- Some patients notice less excess skin if they've adhered to aggressive abdominal exercise regimens while losing weight to help tone those areas.
- Genetics -- Some patients just have less loose skin than others.
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Pregnancy, Lifestyle and Other Questions about Bariatric SurgeryWhat is the difference between laparoscopic and open bariatric surgery?
Studies show that minimally invasive surgery (with only small incisions through which the instruments are placed) produces less pain, smaller scars, earlier discharge from the hospital and earlier return to routine activities and work when compared to traditional, open, larger-incision surgery for weight loss surgery patients.
However, the open approach may be the right approach for certain patients due to their unique anatomy or situation.
Does laparoscopic surgery decrease the risk?
No. Laparoscopic operations carry the same risks in bariatric surgery as an open operation.
If my insurance does not pay for surgery, how much should I expect to pay?
This varies by location, physician and your unique circumstances. Your personal surgeon can provide you with specific information about costs and insurance coverage.
Will I be able to continue smoking after weight loss surgery?
No. We do not recommend smoking and will encourage you to stop smoking at least 8 weeks prior to surgery to minimize risks of lung problems and poor healing that can lead to catastrophic complications, longer hospital stay and even death.
Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
Women are advised not to become pregnant for the first 1-2 years after surgery. They must use reliable birth control during this critical time. Nutritional issues are already of the utmost concern for the patient, and a growing fetus would be put at high risk during this time. Some patients may even need to wait longer before pregnancy, depending on whether they have reached their goal weight or if there are nutritional problems occurring after surgery.
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