After Weight Loss Surgery

What to Expect After Weight Loss Surgery

Use this guide to better understand what to expect after gastric sleeve and lap band weight loss surgery. Please note that although the experience described below is typical, your experience may be different.

How Will I Feel After Surgery?

After you get home from the hospital, you need to allow yourself enough time to recover properly. Get plenty of rest, but do try to walk as much as you can comfortably, to prevent blood clots. Do not lift anything heavy. You can expect some soreness the first few days after surgery, but your surgeon will prescribe medications to treat any pain.

You can most likely return to light work in a few days to a week, but if you have a physically demanding job, you may have to wait two to three weeks. You should also be able to return to normal activity and regular exercise within two to three weeks. Be sure to follow the specific instructions provided by your surgeon and medical team.

Beginning Life After Bariatric Surgery

Your weight-management team will help you with your new lifestyle and eating habits. It is very important to follow their instructions immediately after the operation to allow your new stomach structure to heal completely. This is very important to your weight loss surgery success, so stay focused on allowing your body to recover from surgery, and feeling good.

  • For the first 24 hours after surgery, you can have an occasional sip of water or suck on an ice cube.
  • For the first couple of weeks, you will be on a liquid diet as you gradually move toward pureed and soft foods.
  • About four weeks after surgery, you should be able to eat solid food again.During recovery, it is important to drink plenty of water, although never with your meals.
  • Remember that eating the wrong foods or eating too much can cause vomiting and interfere with your healing process.
  • You also need to start engaging in physical activity and exercise within a few weeks after surgery. At first, it may be hard for you to exercise as much as you should, but it's important both physically and emotionally to get started.
  • Taking it slow at first, try to walk as much as you comfortably can. It's a great way to regain strength and prevent blood clots.

Long-Term Overview

Bariatric surgery is a big step on the road to your successful and sustained weight loss. However, you must take that crucial next step by adopting a lifelong program that will help you meet and continue your weight loss and maintenance goals. This multifaceted program may include:

  • New nutrition and exercise plan
  • Routine check-ups with your surgeon and working with the rest of your weight-management team
  • Regular attendance at the bariatric support group meetings
  • Ongoing LAP-BAND® System adjustments if necessary

Nutrition Post Bariatric Surgery

An Sentara RMH Registered Dietitian will provide you with a detailed nutrition plan, that will help you meet your nutrition needs safely and effectively. Since you will only be able to eat a small amount at any meal, you need to make good food choices. It is recommended that you eat only when you are hungry and no more than 3-5 small meals a day. Make sure that these meals contain adequate nutrients. You will also need to learn to eat slowly and chew your food very thoroughly. Drinking high-calorie liquids (like milkshakes or soda), or drinking liquids during or immediately after meals can drastically reduce the effectiveness of the meal plan. However, it is important to stay hydrated and drink lots of water throughout the day.

Exercise Post Bariatric Surgery

Exercise can be hard, and it will be difficult to stay motivated. But the benefits will be worth it in the long run. If it has been some time since you’ve exercised regularly, then start slowly. Begin with as little as five minutes a day and add five more minutes a week until you can stay active for 45 minutes per day. You can also divide your exercise time; for example, 30 minutes in the morning and then 15 minutes in the evening. If you make exercise a part of your daily routine, you will be more likely to meet your exercise requirements.

The Sentara RMH Wellness Center is a partner with the Sentara Weight Loss Surgery program and offers patients special discounts for joining. The qualified and caring team of the Sentara RMH Wellness Center will work personally with you, to help you meet your wellness goals and achieve long-term success after surgery. The Wellness Center offers all bariatric surgery patients the following:

Before Your Surgery:

  • Free two-week trial
  • Free fitness assessment
  • Free equipment orientation
  • Free exercise prescription, where a qualified staff member will develop an exercise routine that is personalized to your needs and goals
  • Pre- or Post-Operation:
  • $100 off the enrollment fee for joining

After Your Surgery:

  • Second fitness assessment (3-6 weeks after surgery)
  • A revised exercise prescription
  • Third fitness assessment (6 months after surgery)

Follow Up and Support Group Meetings

In addition to these lifestyle changes, living with weight loss surgery means routine check-ups with your surgeon, ongoing LAP-BAND® System adjustments if necessary, and regular attendance at support group meetings. Your weight-management team will have specific instructions for you - following them will keep you on track. Keep regular appointments with your healthcare providers so that they can monitor your progress. You also need to promptly report any unusual symptoms you may experience to your surgeon.

LAP-BAND® Adjustments

Should you need alterations to your lap band after surgery, the adjustments are done during routine surgeon's office visits that generally only take 10 or 15 minutes. The adjustment is performed using a thin needle to inject or remove saline from the LAP-BAND® System via the access port. This widens or narrows the band opening to control the rate of weight loss. The most common reasons for adjustments include:

  • You're not able to eat very much without feeling uncomfortable and vomiting (your LAP-BAND® System is too tight);
  • You can eat without restriction, or you are not losing weight (your LAP-BAND® System is too loose).

Only a clinically trained medical provider can adjust your band. Usually, this person will be your surgeon or nurse practitioner. Never let an untrained clinician or non-medical person adjust your LAP-BAND® System -and never adjust it yourself. Doing so could cause serious problems and risks to your health and/or damage to your LAP-BAND® System.

Following the LAP-BAND® System placement procedure, it is usually left empty for about four to six weeks after surgery, although the exact time will vary from patient to patient. You and your surgeon will decide when the time is right for your first LAP-BAND® System adjustment. To determine this, your surgeon will consider:

  • Your weight loss so far
  • The amount of food you can comfortably eat
  • Your exercise routine
  • The amount of fluid already in your band

Within the first year after weight loss surgery, many patients have between five and eight adjustments. Often, you might get only two to three small adjustments on an annual basis in later years.