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Recovery and Life After Bariatric Surgery

Recovery and Life After Bariatric Surgery

What patients can expect in terms of recovery times, lifestyle changes, diet modifications, and ongoing support?

When considering bariatric surgery, one of the main concerns patients have has to do with the recovery time. The duration of recovery is not as long as most people may think as with laparoscopic, or ‘keyhole’ surgery, there is significantly less pain than with ‘open’ surgeries of the past. Laparoscopic surgery involves making several small incisions while the surgeon works with his tools by means of a camera, whereas ‘open’ surgeries used to require a very large incision down the abdomen which leads to increased pain, recovery time, and a higher risk of infection. The recovery process involves many different elements such as the time spent in hospital, the pain experienced after surgery, the healing of your incisions, the start of activity and return to work and normal life.

How long will I remain in hospital after bariatric surgery?

Depending on the type of procedure you have, either the sleeve gastrectomy or the gastric bypass, patients remain in our private accredited surgical hospital for 1 to 2 nights. On the rare occasion it may happen that Dr. Chow prefers to monitor a patient for one more day to ensure they are stable enough to return home. This additional day in hospital at the request of Dr. Chow is of no additional expense to patients.

How long will I be in pain after bariatric surgery?

The greatest amount of pain will be felt the day of surgery. By the next morning patients experience a significant reduction in pain and discomfort with patients often only needing Tylenol (or acetaminophen) for relief.

How long will the incisions take to heal after bariatric surgery?

At the end of surgery, Dr. Chow will close the incisions with surgical staples and these will be covered with a dressing. Around 2 weeks after surgery, these staples are removed by a nurse. At this point, when the staples are removed, the skin has bonded and the incisions are typically healed. In rare cases there may be a wound infection that can occur which can extend the incision healing process.

When can I return to work after bariatric surgery?

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc., all patients are recommended a medical note upon request for 4 weeks of convalescence. However, many patients who work desk jobs and/or who work from home often choose to begin working within 1 to 2 weeks after surgery as they feel well enough to do so. For patients who have jobs that are more physical, they typically will return to work by 4 weeks after surgery, depending on their recovery. It’s important to discuss the type of work you do with Dr. Chow and the nurse in order to receive appropriate recommendations regarding your return to work.

NOTE: there should be no lifting of objects weighing 15 lbs or more for a period of about 4 weeks after surgery.

When can I begin walking or exercising after bariatric surgery?

You will be asked to get out of bed and begin walking the same day of your surgery. This mobilization is important for your recovery as it helps to prevent or reduce the risk of clots forming in your legs which can travel to the lungs, otherwise known as a DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

You will then be encouraged to begin walking several times per day for short periods of time as per your energy level. This can slowly build up to 30 minutes of walking per day, or more. Any intense activity, weight lifting, or team sports should wait a minimum of 4 weeks. It is best to inform Dr. Chow and the nurse of the exercises you plan to begin to ensure that you receive medical clearance to start.

NOTE: there should be no lifting of objects weighing 15 lbs or more for a period of about 4 weeks after surgery.

Many of our patients prefer swimming during the summer months however swimming it not advised for a minimum of 4 weeks after surgery once your incisions have fully closed and there is no sign of infection. It’s important to discuss this with Dr. Chow and/or the nurse to receive medical clearance.

When will I be able to eat after surgery?

After your surgery you will be offered ice chips while you recover. The following day you will receive a ‘liquid’ diet in hospital and upon your return home you will be given clear instructions on the texture progression to follow, including liquids, pureed food, soft foods, and normal textures. It typically takes most patients a total of 6 weeks until they are eating more normal textured foods. Our bariatric dietitian will guide you throughout the diet progression to ensure you receive the nutrition you need all while minimizing any food intolerances after bariatric surgery.

What are the short term complications that can occur after bariatric surgery?

The short term complications that can occur within the first 30 days after bariatric surgery include: a staple line leak, internal bleeding, colon perforation (gastric bypass), liver/spleen laceration, DVT, port infection, heart attack (gastric bypass), and pulmonary embolism (gastric bypass). The risk of these are at around 1% or less which will be reviewed with you by Dr. Chow during your first consultation. He will provide you with a risk profile specific to you based on your medical and surgical history. Rest assured that Dr. Chow takes several rigorous precautions to reduce these potential risks, however it is important to remember that surgery will never be without total risk.

What are the long term complications that can occur after bariatric surgery?

Long term complications can occur anytime from 1 month after surgery to life. Such types of complications include: stricture of the stomach outlet (gastric bypass), stricture (sleeve), stomach ulcer, port site hernia, gallstones, small bowel obstructions, kidney stones, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies including anemia. Some of these complications may be prevented or picked up during your 6 month follow-up after surgery or in follow-up with your family doctor.

What type of post-operative support will I receive?

At Weight Loss Surgery Inc. with Dr. Simon Chow, the cost of your surgery includes your first consultation to your surgery preparation tests and education, your surgery and hospital stay, 3 month follow-up with Dr. Chow after surgery, and 12 months of follow up with a bariatric nurse and dietitian. You will receive regularly scheduled appointments after surgery at 2 weeks, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. If you have any questions or concerns in between appointments you will be provided with the contact information of our nurse and dietitian who strive to respond to your email the same business day.