Getting Started : After Bariatric Surgery

After Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a major procedure, and recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s postoperative recovery instructions.

Discomfort and Pain

You may think that recovering from bariatric surgery will be a long and painful process—but, that’s not usually the case. The majority of patients have minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, surgery. Surgeons who use a minimally invasive approach create four to five small incisions.

Compared to open surgery, minimally invasive surgery offers:

  • A shorter hospital stay
  • Faster recovery
  • Less pain
  • Less abdominal trauma
  • Less scarring

If you’re concerned about pain after surgery, speak with your surgeon. Your surgeon will discuss the pain management medications that he or she will provide you with after the surgery. Some patients are provided with a system that allows them to control their pain medication with the push of a button.

Being out of Commission

As with any major surgery, there will be a recovery period. Recovery periods vary from patient to patient and depend on the type of surgery you have.

One study found that laparoscopic gastric bypass patients typically:

  • Left the hospital on the second day
  • Returned to work at 21 days

Adjusting to New Habits

Bariatric surgery patients are expected to commit to healthy new habits, such as diet and exercise. You won’t have to become a triathlete or figure out these new habits on your own; just follow your bariatric program’s dietary and exercise instructions. Typically, a comprehensive bariatric program will have several healthcare professionals available to help you with new habits. A comprehensive bariatric program may include healthcare professionals such as:

  • Bariatric surgeons
  • Program coordinators
  • Psychologists
  • Dieticians
  • Fitness experts
  • Many patients report that during the first 12 to 18 months following surgery, they enjoy a burst of energy and motivation.

During this time, they are making healthy lifestyle changes such as:

  • Eating new foods and smaller portions
  • Taking multivitamins and calcium supplements daily
  • Exercising regularly
  • These changes can be overwhelming, but they are not impossible to make. Attend a support group—you might draw inspiration from listening to other people’s stories.

How to Cope with Fear of Failure

After years of losing weight and gaining it back, it’s not unusual to blame yourself. However, many healthcare professionals would argue otherwise: The patients were not failures; the weight loss treatments failed them. It’s important to understand what morbid obesity is and how surgery transforms health.

Bariatric Surgery: A Tool

Bariatric surgery has a history of helping patients effectively transform their health. Bariatric surgery restricts the amount of food patients can eat and, depending on the procedure, the number of calories and nutrients the body can absorb.

As a tool, bariatric surgery has impressive long-term weight loss results and, in many cases, has resolved or improved co-morbid conditions.

How to Find Support

Many successful bariatric surgery patients say that their support network helped them maintain their new lifestyle changes.

Getting Support from Family and Friends

The first step in getting support is talking to your family and friends about bariatric surgery. You might find that they are completely supportive, or you might find that they are not. If they are not supportive, it may be due to fear. They may be concerned about your well-being and may think that bariatric surgery is risky.

If your family or friends are unsupportive, take a few moments to talk to them further. They may only know the myths of bariatric surgery. Explain to them why you are considering bariatric surgery.

Consider taking them with you to a support group. That way, they can hear firsthand from bariatric surgery patients and learn about their experiences.

Attending Support Groups

Bariatric programs usually include a support group for patients. Support groups often are run by a psychologist, program coordinator, or dietician. This means that the group is moderated by a healthcare professional.

Support groups are an excellent resource. You’ll find people who have similar wellness goals, who want to celebrate your successes, and who support you in challenging times. Support groups are devoted to these common experiences, so you can share your feelings in a safe environment.

Online Support Groups

More and more bariatric surgery patients are going online for support. It’s a wonderful way to reach out to people. However, there are a few watchouts:
Support should mean support: Some people may share ways for “cheating” bariatric surgery, or use the group to complain endlessly. This isn’t healthy or productive. Seek out healthy role models and limit contact with people with negative attitudes.

Look for support, not medical advice: Some people will take on the role of “the expert.” Be aware that they are not healthcare professionals, so do not take healthcare advice from them.A critical aspect to the success of the surgery is commitment to follow up and all of us on the Surgical Weight Loss Institute team are dedicated to helping our patients achieve their long term, weight-loss goals. We offer a comprehensive program that consists of support groups, counseling, and other resources to guide our patients on their journey to a healthier and happier life.

Follow-up Appointments

Gastric Banding
  • Year 1: monthly
  • Years 2-3: every 3 months
  • Yearly for life

Laboratory studies may be required at these intervals

You might be asking yourself, what sizes does the REALIZE™ Adjustable Gastric Band come in? Simply stated, one size fits all. That’s right, because it’s an adjustable band, it can be tailored to your individual needs.

The purpose of an adjustment is to ensure that you feel satisfied when you eat and that you are losing weight gradually, about 1-2 pounds per week.
The adjustments are done by your doctor or another healthcare professional by adding sterile saline to the band through the port. Adjustments can also involve removing saline from the band through the port.

When filling the band, saline travels from the port through the tube and into the band, making the band fit more snugly around your stomach.

Here is some additional information you should know about adjustments:

  • Because your doctor wants to make sure that your stomach completely heals from the surgery, your first band adjustment won’t usually occur until 4-6 weeks after your surgery.
  • Adjustments do not require more surgery. In fact, an adjustment can be made in a doctor’s office or a clinic, and usually only takes 5-10 minutes.
  • An adjustment when fluid is added is referred to as a “fill”. Fills tighten the band around the stomach so you’ll feel full sooner and longer than you did before the fill, because the food will empty from your upper stomach more slowly.
  • REALIZE™ and REALIZE mySUCCESS™ are trademarks of Ethicon Endo-Surgery
Gastric Bypass
  • 1 Week Post-Op
  • 4 Weeks Post-Op
  • 3 Months Post-Op
  • 6 Months Post-Op
  • 1 year Post-Op*
  • 18 months Post-Op*
  • 2 Years Post-Op*

*Laboratory studies may be required at these intervals