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Bariatric Surgery: Your Surgical Experience

Before surgery, tests will be done to check your health. You will be monitored and kept as comfortable as possible throughout surgery and recovery. After surgery, you may stay in the hospital for up to 5 days.

Your Pre-Op Exam and Tests

Your doctor may see you about a week before surgery. He or she may request blood tests. These tests help confirm that you’re well enough for surgery. Chest X-rays may be ordered to check your lungs. An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be done to check your heart rhythm. Other exams and tests may also be done, if needed.

Before Surgery

To prepare for surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Stop smoking.

  • Lose weight by following a special diet.

  • Stop taking certain medications, including aspirin and anti-inflammatories. Ask your surgeon what medications to continue taking. Be sure to mention any herbs or supplements you take.

  • Not binge on food before surgery.

  • Stop eating and drinking after midnight on the night before surgery, or as instructed. You may be allowed to have clear liquids up until you arrive at the hospital. You may be allowed to have clear liquids up until you arrive at the hospital. 

On the Day of Surgery

On or before the day of surgery, you will need to sign any consent forms, and an anesthesiologist may talk with you. You will be told about your anesthetics (medications to block pain), which will keep you asleep through surgery. If you have a CPAP or BiPAP machine for sleep apnea, bring it with you to the hospital. 

Image of where possible incision sites will be marked.
Your surgeon can mark possible incision sites for you.

Reaching the Organs

Your surgeon begins the surgery by making one or more incisions in your abdomen. For a laparoscopic procedure, several small incisions (port sites) are made. During the procedure, surgical instruments and a tiny camera are inserted through small tubes placed in these small incisions, and the surgeon operates by looking at the organs on a video monitor. For open surgery (also called laparotomy), one large incision is made. Before surgery, your surgeon will explain what type of incisions you may have .

Just After Surgery

You may wake up in a recovery room. Or you may be in an ICU (intensive care unit). One or more IV (intravenous) lines may be in place. IV lines deliver fluids and medications. One IV line may be attached to a PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pump. You can use this pump to give yourself pain medications. Tubes may also be in place to drain or suction body fluids. In some cases, a tube may be in your throat overnight to help you breathe. You may also have special leg stockings to help improve blood flow.

At the Hospital

As you recover from surgery, you will be moved to a hospital room. You will be asked to be active as soon as you can. This helps speed your recovery. You will start with liquid nutrition and slowly be started back on soft foods as your body recovers from surgery. You will also be asked to do breathing exercises. These help keep your lungs healthy. X-ray tests may be done to check your progress. As you gain strength, you will start a liquid diet. Your team will tell you when you’re ready to go home.

Resources

  • American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery: www.asmbs.org

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Obesity Education Initiative: www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt 

 

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 3/2/2014
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