What Happens Immediately After your Bariatric Surgery

When it comes to Bariatric Surgery or weight loss surgery or lap band, there’s so much information out there on what the results will be in the long run. There are before and after pictures abound and a lot of talk about what your life will look like months, even years after the surgery. The ultimate outcome is the image you have in your head and this is the important part.

However, it’s also important to break this procedure down into real life steps, understanding what to expect as you go through the process. Knowing what to expect during recovery can help you be at ease instead of being hit with new situations then freaking out if you have doubts or questions looming. Here is a step by step breakdown of what the day of your Bariatric Surgery or weight loss surgery or lap band and bariatric surgery will look like – (assuming you had a straightforward sleeve gastrectomy) that proceeded as planned, with no complications.

Waking up after your Bariatric Surgery

When you first wake up from your procedure, you likely won’t experience much pain beyond a dull soreness across the abdominal area of your stomach. You could feel some nausea from the anesthesia, however this should dissipate quickly.

You’ll have several incisions on your abdomen, about 5 or 6, leftover from the procedure. In the lower left quadrant of your stomach, you might feel the highest concentration of pain due to this being where the surgeon removed a large part of your stomach.

Your Diet on the Day of your Bariatric Surgery

You shouldn’t eat or drink anything yet, but don’t worry – you probably won’t even want to. Because of the breathing tube that was used during surgery, your mouth will feel swollen and sore. Also, due to the large portion of your stomach that was removed, the ghrelin in your body, or the hormone that causes hunger, will be low, so don’t worry too much about feeling hunger on the day of. Some patients are allowed mouth swabs or a cup of ice every so often, but this is not always the case. You’ll might feel dehydrated, however you won’t be able to drink anything until at the earliest, the next day.

Level of Activity

Getting up from your bed the day of your surgery will be hard, but, similar to exercise, it’s best to just get through it and force yourself to do this so that you are less sore the following day. Your surgeon will probably want you up and walking after your surgery for this reason and to help you get rid of the pain associated with the CO2 used in your surgery. When you’re lying down, it should be on your back and in a bed tilted at a slight incline.

The Day After and Beyond

The next day, you’ll be able to drink a minimal amount of fluids, providing you pass you swallow test that searches for leaks. If there are none, you may begin with small sips of water. You’ll still be on an IV for pain medicines, but others will be administered orally. Your doctor will give you a diet to follow and it’s important that you stay on track with this; You’ll be allowed sugar free gelatin, unsweetened juices, milk, strained cream soup and broth in addition to water.

Avoid carbonation. Also avoid teas or coffees or anything with caffeine as this acts as a diuretic and can continue to dehydrate you. Once you’re approved for discharge, your doctor will probably have you up and moving again as you leave the hospital and head home. You will have a dedicated meal plan that you should read over and adhere to strictly.

Day 3 and moving forward, you will most likely be on your own, including with the pain medications; you no longer have an IV pumping your bloodstream with the pain killers so you will feel it more now, however it will be bearable. Your pain will decrease as the days go by.

Your diet will progress from just liquids to pureed foods to soft, chewy foods, then, finally, after about 2 months, you’ll be able to take in solid foods again. It will still be a restricted diet, featuring much smaller portions than what you are used to.

Sticking to your meal plan is essential – many times, your doctor will have recommended approved brands that are specially formulated for bariatric patients, designed to deliver all the nutrients needed in much smaller amounts.

Overall, the idea you had in your head about the glorious results from your procedure will be accurate. It will just take some time, dedication and recovery to get there. Be patient and adhere to your post-op diets and instructions, and you will eventually get the results you’ve always hoped for.


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