Recovery From Weight Loss Surgery
Recovering from surgery is different for everyone. Recovering from surgery can depend on your age, your determination, and how much weight you are able to lose before surgery. Lets face it: the more weight you lose before surgery and the more time you spend embracing our pre-operative counseling, the easier it will be to get around after surgery.
Recovering from weight loss surgery: At the hospital
In almost all cases you will spend two nights in the hospital. Occasionally people will spend only night in the hospital but this is not very often. Sometimes, a third night is required. This is more common for patients that live far away from San Antonio. While in the hospital you can expect to see a BMI surgeon, our Fellow, or our Physician Assistant come to check on you. You might see all of us at different times of the day!! We will be monitoring your heart rate, your blood pressure, your urine output, your labs, and your temperature. During this time we will gently anti-coagulate your blood to prevent the formation of blood clots. In addition, we will be having you ambulate routinely in the hospital. We will encourage you to shower on the day after your surgery. Lastly, we will allow you to ‘eat’ some clear liquids like broth, sugar free popsicles, and ice chips. If all looks good on the second day after surgery we will discharge you to home. We will not let you leave the hospital unless we think you look perfect!!
Recovering from weight loss surgery: At home
When you go home from the hospital the goal is to return to your activities of daily living as soon as possible. We ask that you not drive a car for several days. You will be sore. If you are still requiring narcotics to control your pain you probably should not be driving. You can, however, lift things and walk and carry on with life without physical restrictions. You can expect to be tired and sometimes sore, but you will not hurt yourself or your surgery with routine activity.
Please note that there is always going to be one incision that bothers you more than the others. It will be the lower incision either on the left or the right side. This is the incision where you will have one or two stitches deep underneath the skin – it is the site where either your stomach was extracted or where we placed a stapling device. This area will have a ‘bump’ that can be a little painful for up to several weeks. You might also experience some ‘catching’ or ‘spasm’ type pain around this incision. Please know that this is normal and the pain will subside. Sometimes a heating pad will help this area. Please don’t let this slow you down or restrict your activity.
With regards to return to work: everyone’s motivation for going back to work is different. Some patients are highly motivated to return to work as soon as possible while some patients want to utilize their paid time off from work. In almost all cases, your surgery will be done either laparoscopically or robotically. In other words, it is done in a “minimally invasive” fashion and therefore one can return to work faster. If you have a routine surgery, which most patients do, your return to work is usually about 2 weeks. Some people are able to return to work within a week, however we think you should be prepared for at least 2 weeks off. It is better to prepare for more time off than you need. It never seems to be a problem for people to return to work earlier than predicted!
For some patients, however, longer time may be needed or required. If, for example, you are having a revisional surgery or if you are older in age you should plan on requiring more time in the hospital and thus more time to convalesce at home before resuming your activities of daily living. Any surgeries that are not considered routine you should discuss with your surgeon about the planned time off.
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