Recovery after Bariatric Surgery
Most people recover very quickly after weight loss surgery and feel ready to go back to normal activities after a few days. It is important to remember though that you have had a major operation and to take it steady for a few weeks.
Wounds - The small wounds on your abdomen will either be glued of covered with waterproof dressings after the operation. The dressings should be left for seven days from the day of the operation (only change if the wound is oozing or the dressing has lifted off and is no longer waterproof). By that time, the wounds are usually healed enough to remain uncovered. The stitches used are dissolvable. You can shower or bath as normal from the day of surgery. If you notice any sign of wound infection (pain, redness, swelling or pus) you are advised to visit your Practice Nurse for a wound check.
Exercise - Gentle outdoor exercise is important as well as getting plenty of sleep and keeping your fluids up. You should gradually try to increase your exercise until you are walking for 30 minutes per day. You should aim to walk at a speed that makes you slightly short of breath and sweaty.
Driving - You may drive as soon as you can comfortably wear a seat belt and are able to perform an emergency stop. You should check with your insurance company for their specific advice about driving after keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery. It is advisable to avoid heavy lifting for at least two months after abdominal surgery.
Pregnancy - Losing weight can increase fertility but we strongly recommend that you do not become pregnant for 1-2 years following surgery as weight loss may have effects on the unborn child. If you do not already have regular contraception it may be worth visiting your local family planning centre for advice. If you get pregnant with a gastric band, the band can be deflated during the period of pregnancy to ensure the baby gets sufficient nutrients and that you can breastfeed afterwards. The band can then be re-inflated when the time is right.
Emotion – It is common for patients to feel tearful, irritable and vulnerable in the first few weeks after surgery. This is a normal response as surgery is a life changing event. This is usually temporary and improves once you start eating more solid food and get back to your normal routine. Please contact a member of the team if you need reassurance or are finding it difficult to cope
Partying – Being socially active is very important to positive emotional wellbeing, but be careful not to overdo it. You may be more prone to the intoxicating effects of alcohol than you used to be. Also bear in mind that alcohol contains calories without any nutrients and can be high in sugar. You may resume sexual activity as soon as you feel comfortable.
We look after our patients closely after surgery and are always available for any problems or questions you may have. The first check up after your operation is generally at six to eight weeks. After that the follow up regime will vary and you will be given further details at the time of your operation. You will be seen regularly by our specialist bariatric practitioner and dietitians for check ups and band adjustments and we keep a close eye on your weight and health problems during this time. You will require regular blood tests for the rest of your life after bariatric surgery. It is important that you attend any follow up appointment or let us know if you can’t attend so that we can re-arrange it for you and offer the original appointment to another patient.
We are funded to support patients for two years following surgery. After this time your care will be handed back to your GP, although additional funding may be requested if required.