Bariatric Surgery Recovery

what to expect from bariatric surgery recovery

Some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from individuals who are contemplating medical weight loss include “How long does the bariatric surgery recovery take?”, “How long will I have to take off work after my weight loss surgery?”, “Will I be able to take care of myself after the weight loss procedure?” “Can I drive after bariatric surgery?”. If you are researching bariatric weight loss, you may be seeking answers to these and other questions. Following is an overview of what you can expect after bariatric surgery.

What Types Of Weight Loss Procedures Are There?

There have been many advancements in the bariatric weight loss field in recent years and with them came the addition of some non-invasive options that do not require surgery. Gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, duodenal switch, and gastric lap band are all surgical procedures with the gastric sleeve being the most often performed.

Newer non-surgical procedures include the Orbera balloon, Obalon balloon, and endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG). If you are researching weight loss surgery, it would be smart to become knowledgeable about all available procedures and choose the least invasive method, posing the least amount of risk, that can still accomplish your goals.

Video: What Is Bariatric Surgery?

What Is The Typical Bariatric Surgery Recovery Time?

The recovery time from a bariatric weight loss procedure will vary depending on the type of procedure performed and the technique used. Certain procedures will require little downtime, while others will take significantly more time for recovery. Some other factors that will determine how long recovery takes are age, overall health, pre-surgical BMI, and pre-existing weight-related conditions (if any).

Returning to your everyday routine after surgery and being completely recovered can be quite different. Understanding what to fully expect after your procedure and being adequately prepared will ensure a smoother recovery.

How Long Will I Have To Stay In The Hospital After Weight Loss Surgery?

The length of your hospital stay will depend on the type of bariatric procedure you undergo. Surgical procedures will generally require at least an overnight hospital stay but typically, non-surgical procedures are performed as outpatient, and patients return home the same day.

Gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, gastric band, and duodenal switch surgeries are most often performed laparoscopically and require only small incisions and one to two days in the hospital. If medically necessary, open surgery may be performed, which is more complex, requires a much larger incision, and possibly, a week or more in the hospital.

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What Does Recovery From Bariatric Surgery Look Like?

The Hosptial Stay

Patients who undergo non-surgical procedures will be discharged home the same day, and patients who undergo surgery will spend some time in a recovery room being monitored by medical staff. Routinely, surgical patients wake up with an IV that is administering pain medication. There will be several small incisions or possibly one large incision in the upper abdominal area that have been sutured together and bandaged. Some patients can have an adverse reaction to anesthesia and wake up feeling nauseous.

Real Surgery Video: Gastric Sleeve by Dr. Ahad from IBI Healthcare Institute

During surgery, a breathing tube is used, so your throat may feel sore or a little scratchy. A member of the medical staff will probably give you ice chips every few hours as normally you are not allowed to eat or drink anything until the following morning.

Once you have been able to get up and walk around, you will be transferred to your hospital room, where you will stay until you are released. On the day after surgery, they normally allow patients to begin drinking clear liquids.

You will be monitored 24/7 and consistently encouraged (assisted when necessary) to walk around to prevent deep vein thrombosis. If no complications arise, the surgeon will discharge you from the hospital to return home.

Recovering At Home After Weight Loss Surgery

Regardless of whether you have had surgery or a non-surgical procedure, you will need someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first 24 hours.

You will be given aftercare instructions by your surgeon that are unique to your individual circumstances. It is very important for your bariatric surgery recovery that you follow these instructions carefully. These instructions may include directions regarding wound care, pain medication, bathing, walking to prevent blood clots, dietary restrictions, driving, as well as do’s and don’ts related to activities like lifting, household chores, etc.

Patients who have undergone surgical weight loss procedures will have a longer and more involved recovery time than patients who have had a less invasive procedure.

Recovery After Different Weight Loss Procedures Chart

Type of Procedure Hospital Stay* Av. Time Back to Work Full Recovery – Back to Normal Life
Gastric Bypass
Surgical 2-3 days 2-3 weeks 6-8 weeks
Gastric Sleeve LSG
Surgical 1-2 days 2 weeks 4-6 weeks
Gastric Lap Band
Surgical 1 day 2 weeks 4-6 weeks
Duodenal Switch
Surgical 2-3 days 2 weeks 4-6 weeks
Endoscopic Sleeve ESG
Non-Surgical No hospital stay 3-5 days 2 weeks
Orbera Balloon
Non-Surgical No hospital stay 3-4 days 3-4 days
Obalon Balloon
Non-Surgical No hospital stay 3-4 days 3-4 days

*Approximate hospital stay is based on laparoscopically performed surgeries. Open surgeries can increase hospital stay duration.

Non-Surgical Weight Loss

There are a few different non-surgical weight loss procedures. The recovery time is much shorter and although you will have dietary restrictions, your transition from clear liquids to solid foods will be faster.

There are balloon procedures that work by inserting a balloon or a series of balloons into the stomach as a “place holder” making the stomach smaller and the patient unable to consume very much food in one sitting. The balloon is removed from the patient’s stomach after 6 months with the understanding that the patient has developed portion control and healthy eating habits, and will continue these into the future.

Obera Balloon

The surgeon guides the deflated balloon down the esophagus while the patient is mildly sedated. The Obera Balloon is then inflated using sterile saline solution to about the size of a grapefruit.

Obalon Balloon

The insertion procedure does not require any sedation as the patient swallows a capsule that contains the Obalon Balloon and a very small tube. Once the surgeon confirms the balloon has made it into the stomach via x-ray, the small tube is used to inflate the balloon. Mild sedation is used to deflate and remove the balloon after 6 months.

Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty (ESG)

The end result of the endoscopic sleeve procedure is very similar to that of gastric sleeve surgery but without any surgery. The stomach is made about 70% smaller through the use of sutures and shaped into a banana-like tube but no part of the stomach is cut or removed. The surgeon accesses the stomach using an endoscope that is carefully inserted down the patient’s throat so there are no incisions that can get infected or need time to heal. The recovery time is significantly shorter than gastric sleeve surgery and the weight loss potential is very similar.

Video: ESG Weight Loss Patient Testimonial

10 Tips For a Smoother Bariatric Surgery Recovery

Anything you can do in advance of your procedure will make your recovery a bit easier. The particulars of what this looks like will depend on the type of weight-loss procedure you are having. Surgical procedures may take more preparation than a less invasive non-surgical one.

  1. Join recommended support groups and begin to engage with them while you are preparing for your procedure. Individuals who have been through what you are about to experience can be a great knowledge base to draw from.
  2. Prepare to take an adequate amount of time off of work. This will vary depending on the type of weight-loss procedure.
  3. Determine who will drive you home from your surgery/procedure and who will stay to help you for as long as you need.
  4. Do your grocery shopping and stock the pantry & fridge with things you or your family will need while you are recouping.
  5. Have the person that will be taking care of you the most and those who will be pillars of your support system tag along with you to a few appointments, so they will learn how they can best support you. You will be going through several physical and emotional changes that they may understand better if they are there listening to the doctor or therapist describe them to you.
  6. If you have children or pets, keep in mind that you may not be able to care for them yourself as you usually do. You may need to arrange for someone to help out for a while.
  7. Arrange with the surgeon to get your pain prescriptions filled before surgery day and make sure you have an adequate supply of any other medications or personal care items that you may need. You may not be able to drive anywhere for a while, which will limit your ability to get to the store.
  8. You may need to rearrange your sleeping situation or make alternate plans if after surgery you are unable to get to your bed if you must go up any stairs. Sometimes, sleeping on a couch or a recliner can work for a few days, if necessary.
  9. Post your dietary instructions or wound care instructions in strategic locations so you or your caregiver has easy access.
  10. Make sure you follow any pre-surgery instructions to the letter to ensure your surgery is successful, and to mitigate risks.

Your Weight Loss Journey And Life After Bariatric Surgery

Regardless of whether surgical or non-surgical, your weight loss procedure is a wonderful new tool to help you live a healthier lifestyle. It is very important that you continue to persevere with your exercise plan and a new normal in relation to your dietary plan. Any weight loss procedure is only as good as the patient’s determination, future choices, and lifestyle changes.

Patients who have extreme success in weight loss understand that their surgery or procedure is not a quick fix to all their problems, but an aid to help them accomplish goals that seemed unreachable before. Lean on your support system during your recovery and after. They are there to help you stay strong and encourage you as you navigate your new lifestyle. There are many people who have experienced weight loss surgery or are on this same journey now that you can connect with, share information with, and encourage each other. Your life is going to be different, but a good kind of different.

A New Way Of Life: After Bariatric Surgery Recovery

If you are ready to say yes to a healthier lifestyle and commit to a new way of life that begins with weight loss surgery, you are not alone. The team at IBI Healthcare Institute is here to support you on your journey. To learn more about weight loss and the solution that is best for you, contact IBI Healthcare Institute for a personal consultation.

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