Weight loss surgery is a very powerful tool that allows people to lose weight quickly while reducing their feelings of hunger. Many people have used it to successfully lose excess weight. However, like all surgeries it involves a period of recovery and the risk of complications. By following your physician's orders during the recovery process, you can minimize your risk of complications. Here's what you'll need to keep in mind when you are recovering from weight loss surgery.
Know When to Call Your Doctor About Excess Pain
Pain from weight loss surgery peaks in the first few days after surgery and slowly subsides. Pain from weight loss surgery is most severe around the incision sites and is most often felt while twisting or turning your upper body.
Complications from weight loss surgery are rare, but they are very serious when they occur. If the pain is unbearable or if you feel moderate pain in your abdomen even when you are not moving, call your doctor immediately. You should also call your doctor if you begin running a fever. These may be symptoms of a gastric leak caused when the sutures used to repair your stomach have ruptured – this requires immediate corrective surgery.
Take Short Walks to Accelerate Recovery, but Avoid Strenuous Exercise or Lifting
It's important to get up from your hospital bed and take short walks frequently starting the first day after your weight loss surgery. Most weight loss surgeries are laparoscopic, where the surgeon makes a number of small incisions and uses small tools including a camera to perform the majority of the operation inside your abdominal cavity. In order to create a space to work in, carbon dioxide gas is used to slightly inflate your abdominal cavity. Walking around after surgery will help expel excess carbon dioxide from your abdomen and reduce cramping.
When you are discharged from the hospital, you should continue taking regular walks. You can also engage in very light aerobics. However, weight training or lifting heavy objects is not allowed while you are recovering from weight loss surgery, as it puts too much strain on your abdomen. If you regularly lift heavy objects at work, make sure that your employer knows that you cannot perform this task until you are fully recovered.
Follow Your Prescribed Diet to Prevent Complications From Surgery
You will be placed on a clear liquid diet immediately following surgery and then will be allowed to eat pureed foods after two or three days. This portion of the diet may last up to four weeks at the surgeon's discretion. It's best to eat foods high in protein that are easily blended, such as beans and ground meat (you can ask a butcher to triple grind cuts of meat for you to allow them to blend easily.)
After this phase of the diet is done, your doctor will give you approval to add soft food such as boiled vegetables and canned fruit to your diet. It's important to follow your prescribed diet exactly. Eating solid food before your stomach has had the chance to fully recover from weight loss surgery can lead to the sutures on your stomach rupturing.
After you have fully recovered from weight loss surgery, you will be allowed to eat solid foods and perform strenuous exercises again. This is one of the most important points of your weight loss journey, as you are now free to eat any food that you want. While weight loss surgery will reduce your appetite and make it difficult to overeat, it's important to eat healthily. Bariatric surgery is one of the strongest tools available to help people lose weight, but the best strategy is to pair it with consulting a dietician to formulate a diet plan that works for you and joining a support group for those who have undergone weight loss surgery to ensure long-term success.