Bariatric Surgery: Your Surgical Experience

Bariatric Surgery: Your Surgical Experience

Before
surgery, tests will be done to check your health during the months you and your surgeon
have worked together to prepare you for surgery. When it’s time for surgery, you will
be
monitored and kept as comfortable as possible throughout surgery and recovery. After
surgery, you may stay in the hospital for one to several days.

Your pre-op exam and tests

Your
healthcare provider will see you months before surgery and will request blood tests
and
other studies. You may be referred to a cardiologist or a pulmonary specialist. These
tests help to prepare you for surgery. Chest X-rays may be ordered to check your lungs.
An electrocardiogram (ECG) may be done to check your heart rhythm. Your surgeon and
dietitian may also ask you to lose some weight before surgery in order to make the
surgery safer. You may also meet with a mental health counselor or professional to
help
cope with the stresses before and after surgery. 

Before surgery

To prepare for surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Stop smoking.

  • Lose weight by following a special diet.

  • Stop taking certain medicines, including aspirin and anti-inflammatories for about
    a week before surgery. Ask your surgeon what medicines to continue taking. Be sure
    to mention any over-the-counter medicines, 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.

Just before or on the day of surgery

On or before the day of surgery, you will need to sign any consent forms both for
surgery and anesthesia.

An anesthesiologist will talk with you. You will be told about medicines to block
pain (anesthetics). These will keep you asleep through surgery. The anesthesiologist
will also talk to you about your medical history and about your medicines, and which
ones to take on the day of surgery. If you have a CPAP or BiPAP machine for sleep
apnea, bring it with you to the hospital. 

Reaching the organs

Your
surgeon begins the surgery by making one or more incisions in your stomach. For a 
laparoscopic procedure, several small incisions (port sites) are made. During
the procedure, surgical instruments and a tiny camera are put through small tubes
placed
in these small incisions. The surgeon operates by looking at the organs on a video
monitor. For 
open surgery (laparotomy), the surgeon makes one large
incision. Before surgery, your surgeon will explain what type of procedure you are
likely to 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 medicines.
One
IV line may be attached to a PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pump. You can use
this
pump to give yourself pain medicines. 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, and help to prevent
a blood clot in your legs. You may have a urinary catheter that was placed after you
went to sleep. 

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, and the nurses can help you get out of bed to move around.
This helps speed your recovery, and helps to prevent complications like blood clots
in
your legs. You will start with liquid nutrition as your body recovers from surgery. You
will also be asked to do breathing exercises, using an incentive spirometer to help
take
deep breaths and cough. This helps to prevent pneumonia and keep your lungs healthy.
X-ray tests may be done to check your progress. 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