After Surgery

What to Expect During the . . .

The First Few Days: What to Expect

During Your Hospital Stay

Your hospital stay will vary depending on the procedure you have and any health conditions that may require monitoring after surgery.
The average hospital stay is:

  • Gastric Bypass surgery is usually a 2 night stay
  • LAP-BAND® surgery patients can usually be discharged on the same day. Occasionally, the surgeon may decide to monitor your progress overnight and you will be discharged the next morning
  • Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery is usually a 1 night stay

Soon after surgery, you will get out of bed and begin walking. Our program provides special equipment to help you get started.

Returning Home

After leaving the hospital, most patients experience no difficulties.

Occasionally, unexpected new symptoms may develop, such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Pain

These problems are often simply resolved by placing a call to the surgeon’s office. But, in some cases, a patient may need to return for additional treatment to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Campus. Your surgeon will advise you on what to do should you have complications.

Patients From Out of Town: If you live more than 50 miles from Atlantic City, you should stay in the Atlantic City area for about a week after leaving the hospital. We recommend that a family member or friend stay with you, since you can’t drive or carry packages (including groceries) right away. While follow-up visits to the surgeon’s office keep patients busy, there’s also free time to see the sights of Atlantic City. However, you must avoid long excursions or strenuous activities.

Wound Care: Dermabond (a surgical glue) covers the incision and stays on for several days after surgery. It should not be removed; it peels off on its own. You may shower using a mild soap, allowing the incision to become wet, but patting it dry carefully. If you have skin staples, they will be removed at your week one post-surgical visit with your surgeon.

We take special precautions to avoid surgical incision infections, by carefully controlling bleeding before the wound is closed and by using antibiotics at the time of surgery. However, it is possible for fluid to collect beneath the skin and become infected. Swelling, redness, tenderness or drainage can sometimes even occur weeks after the operation.

To avoid infection, keep the incision(s) clean by washing or showering. If signs of infection – such as swelling, redness, tenderness or drainage – occur, call the surgeon’s office for further instructions. As a general principle, fluid collection or infection should be allowed (or helped) to leave the body. Drainage is beneficial and healthy.

Do not use any oils, creams, balms, salves, ointments or lotions on new incisions until they have completely closed.Using these products before the incision has closed may trap bacteria in the wound, later causing an infection. Once the wound is healed, you may begin using these products, if you wish, to minimize scarring and make yourself feel more comfortable.

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The First Few Weeks: What to Expect

Follow-up Office Visits

As a surgical patient, you will see your surgeon one week and two weeks after surgery, then at regular intervals for the first year. Thereafter, annual follow-up visits with your surgeon are recommended. Either before surgery or immediately after leaving the hospital, you should schedule your first post-operative visit.

Dietary Guidelines

From our program dietician, each patient receives detailed information about his/her diet and when foods may be introduced. Patients must follow these guidelines closely. Usually about three weeks after surgery, patients who have had laparoscopic bariatric procedures are able to progress from liquid to solid food – beginning with eating either a poached or soft-boiled egg.

If you have recently had bariatric surgery:

  • Take small bites and chew food thoroughly.
  • Keep in mind that your stomach is smaller and you will feel full with less food. In fact, you may not be able to eat an entire egg, and that’s okay.
  • Don’t take longer than 20 minutes to eat. If it is taking longer, you are probably waiting too long between bites, or getting full and waiting for it to pass through to give you more room. The goal is not to finish your meal, it is to learn what full means and feels like, so you can stop when you are full.
  • Don’t drink liquids a half hour before or a half hour after eating. Drinking 30 minutes before a meal can cause you to be full before eating. Drinking during or 30 minutes after a meal can wash the food through your pouch...causing you to be hungry again.

Your Progress: Everyone heals differently. Therefore, you can’t compare your progress to someone else’s. Pain levels, rate of weight loss and the amount of food that can be eaten vary from person to person.

However, most weight loss surgery patients are able to return to work two to three weeks after the procedure. And, within four to eight weeks, most surgical patients feel like their normal selves.

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The First Few Months: What to Expect

A New Way of Living

Weight loss surgery is the first step toward a healthier life and more slender body. But surgery is just one component of your weight loss program. Ultimately, your long-term success with bariatric surgery will depend on establishing – and closely following – a new pattern of living habits. And, the sooner you adopt these new practices, the sooner you will achieve your weight loss goals.

These lifestyle requirements are outlined in what we call “The Six Rules,” which focus on:

  • The way you eat and drink;
  • How much exercise you get; and
  • The amount on nutrients you receive through vitamin and mineral supplements.

Learn more about “The Six Rules”.

Monitoring Your Progress

Weight loss surgery eliminates the need to count calories. And, you’ll no longer experience nagging hunger. Still, you must be careful about your weight and be aware of your behavior and your choices. As you approach your weight goals, it’s important to weigh yourself daily and watch weight fluctuations as they relate to eating and exercise.

Keep in mind that muscle weighs more than fat. So, if you’re exercising vigorously, you may not notice a difference on the scale. In this case, periodically measure yourself (arms, waist, hips, etc.) to monitor your progress.

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