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Recovery after Bariatric Surgery

What you do immediately after bariatric surgery goes a long way to helping your long-term surgical recovery. In order to speed recovery after what is, by any account, a major surgical procedure, bariatric patients have several considerations to bear in mind. Further, obese patients have health problems that those who are not obese may not have, including side effects and complications that are a direct result of their weight. Finally, it is important to remember that patients who have had open surgery may require more strict recovery protocols.

Circulation and Healing

Obese people may have poor circulation due to type II diabetes. Maintaining good circulation is very important for recovery and healing after surgery, so it is all the more important that, after surgery, patients make a point of getting up and walking as soon as they are able. Walking and exercise helps stimulate blood flow, speeding up healing and helping fight off infection. Exercise also releases endorphins, which can improve mood and outlook. The more a patient walks, within their physical limits, the more quickly they may be able heal. It will also start the process of burning calories and kick starting the weight loss process. Patients will continue to increase their activity level over the course of several weeks and in doing so will kick-start their lifestyle change.

Wound Care

It is important to follow your post-op guidelines when taking care of your incisions. You will be given a detailed set of instructions for keeping the wound clean and making sure that infection stays at bay. You will always want to wash your hands thoroughly before touching the wound or the area surrounding the incisions. The wound should be redressed every time the dressing is removed in order to keep it clean and sterile. Do not get the incision wet for about 48 hours and if you have steri-strips, let them fall off naturally (it will take 1-2 weeks). Some swelling and redness is normal. If you notice a great deal of pain, unusual discharge, if bleeding increases or if the incision starts to give off an odor, call your surgeon immediately; these may be signs of infection. High fever and numbness in extremities may also be signs of a problem. A full list of things to look out for will be provided to you by the office after surgery. Recovery can be quicker and less painful than you expect, if you follow the orders prescribed by your surgeon.

Diet After Surgery

You will begin with a liquid diet lasting about two weeks. At that point you may begin eating soft foods, if you can. Soon after you will graduate to solid foods, but follow guidelines as not all foods are appropriate after surgery. Carbonated drinks can stretch your stomach pouch and cause irritation. Caffeine and alcohol are also not recommended after surgery as they act as diuretics and can lead to dehydration. Further, they can cause irritation to the stomach pouch. Beverages high in empty calories, like sugary drinks, will work against your weight loss goals, providing very little nutrition. Your dietician will create a plan that is tailored to your particular circumstance – be sure to follow it.

In the end, following the guidelines provided to you by our office after the procedure will allow for the quickest healing time with the fewest complications. Remember, weight loss surgery is just a tool and the degree to which you change your lifestyle, for the better, will determine your level of success.