About Recovery & Care Following Surgery



How long do I have to stay in the hospital for weight loss surgery?

The average length of hospital stay is:

  • Two nights for laparoscopic gastric bypass
  • One night for laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy
  • Usually same day for LAP-BAND®

Planning for your discharge from the hospital begins before your surgery, as we identify any specific needs that you may have following the procedure. Please take time to talk with our medical team about any concerns you have regarding your care at home.

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Following surgery, how is pain managed in the hospital?

In our Bariatric “Boot Camp”, we teach patients before surgery how to use a Patient-Controlled Analgesic (PCA) pump. This devise allows patients to direct the delivery of their pain medication immediately after surgery, until oral medications can be given – usually the next day following surgery.

Prior to discharge, patients will be given a prescription for medications to relieve pain and nausea.

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What types of dietary changes can I expect after weight loss surgery?

In educational classes held before and after surgery, patients receive detailed information regarding their diet and changes that will occur during the days following surgery (progressing from a liquid diet to solid foods). In general, those who have had weight loss surgery need to:

  • Concentrate on protein-rich foods and eliminate fats and sugars;
  • Eat two to three meals a day, about the size of the palm of your hand – enough to give a feeling of fullness and satisfaction;
  • Drink small sips of water throughout the day, increasing gradually to a total of 64 ounces daily;
  • Not snack between meals; and
  • Take the prescribed vitamins daily.

By following these guidelines, surgical patients can better achieve their weight-loss goals – and maintain that loss.

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What kinds of vitamins do I have to take after weight loss surgery?

Generally speaking, everyone who has had weight loss surgery should take a multivitamin supplement daily. However, patients who have had gastric bypass have additional needs because of malabsorption related to their surgery and require specially formulated vitamins to maintain proper nutrient levels. Specific recommendations for vitamin supplements are discussed in nutritional classes held before and after surgery.

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When can I start exercising?

A few hours after surgery, you will get out of bed and begin walking. Walking is strongly encouraged to prevent complications after surgery, such as pneumonia and blood clots in the legs. Our program provides special equipment to help you get started.

You will continue to build walking stamina each day after surgery, and eventually other strengthening and conditioning exercises can be added. Many of our patients walk up to one or two miles every day one month after surgery.

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How soon can I get back to work?

Because of the quicker recovery time associated with laparoscopic surgery, patients typically return to work two to three weeks after the procedure. Your surgeon’s office will gladly assist you by completing a medical excuse and any short-term disability papers required following your surgery.  Patients who wish to return to work sooner can discuss their individual job requirements with their surgeon.

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Would the procedure be reversed when I reach normal weight?

Surgical weight loss is merely a “tool” to help you achieve your weight loss goals. It does not change your underlying genetic or metabolic structure. If the procedure were to be reversed, the patient would likely gain back the weight.

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Can these procedures cause too much weight loss? How does the body know when to stop losing weight?

The body reaches a new metabolic baseline where it functions comfortably and effortlessly.

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What is dumping syndrome?

With the gastric bypass procedure, “dumping” is the condition that occurs when the stomach’s contents move too rapidly through the small intestine. Eating foods high in sugars and fats is usually the cause. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Sweating
  • Faintness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea

These unpleasant side effects encourage patients who have had gastric bypasses to adhere to a diet high in protein and to stay away from fats and sugars.

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Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?

Many women with obesity who were not able to conceive prior to surgery become fertile again after significant weight loss. However, patients should wait 12 to 15 months after surgery before trying to become pregnant. The reason is that during the first six to nine months after surgery patients lose weight at a considerably fast rate and sustaining the baby’s needs is difficult at this time.

If you are considering pregnancy after weight loss surgery, allow your body adequate time to adjust to your new weight before becoming pregnant.

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Will I experience hair loss after surgery?

Hair loss can occur with any rapid, significant weight loss. To minimize hair loss, improve your intake of protein dense foods and minerals that enrich hair follicles. Hair loss is usually seen two to four months after surgery. The best prevention is to follow the dietary instructions given before and after surgery and take vitamin supplements, maintaining protein levels throughout the weight loss experience. Even if hair is lost, it usually re-grows once protein and mineral levels and weight loss stabilize.

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