Post Surgery Care
Contributed by Dato' Dr Tikfu Gee
Want to know how to vastly improve your odds of success after bariatric surgery? Simple: follow post surgery guidelines carefully and completely, and you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour.
Why It’s Important to Follow Post Surgery Care Guidelines From Your Doctor
Not only will your recovery time go much more smoothly, you’ll also lessen your chances of regaining the weight later on. You’ll also prevent some of the other common issues people face after weight loss surgery such as vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Ready to find out exactly what you’re in for, as far as post-surgery care goes? You’ll be surprised: it’s very much like your pre-surgery routine guidelines!
Right After Bariatric Surgery: Guidelines
Immediately after your surgery, you’ll be staying at the hospital for one to three days. If you are not in the best of shape before surgery, your hospital stay can be longer: up to a week. Your doctor will keep you in the hospital until your body is able to handle a liquid diet. During your stay, hospital staff will be keeping a close eye on you, watching out for infection and other short-term complications of surgery.
Your Diet is Important
For the first few days, you will be on an IV, since your stomach (and small intestine, if applicable) need time to heal from the surgery. After being moved from the recovery room to your hospital room, you’ll most likely wake up from anesthesia with an IV line…plus a catheter.
Immobility Causes Problems
Next, and this one seems counter intuitive, you should not be immobile for too much of the day. At first, when you can’t move on our own, hospital staff will shift your body position for you. Then, nurses will try and get you up and moving as soon as possible. Why?
Because post-operative immobility causes serious complications, like the following:
- deep vein thrombosis
- skin integrity problems
- respiratory failure
- pulmonary embolism
Your mobility will be a major cause for concern among hospital staff. They will work hard to keep your body mobile, even within hours of your surgery. Of course at that point there won’t be much you can do to help them. The minute you’re able, however, you should participate in their efforts to keep your body mobile.
The First One Week
This initial stage of your post-surgery new life is crucial. Your instructions can be summed up in two words: liquid diet. At first, while still in the hospital, you will be given things like the following:
- decaf tea or coffee
- diluted fruit juice
- specialized protein drinks
However, once you’re home, you will be on a strict diet. Generally, you’ll continue the pureed diet for about another week after surgery. This means everything you eat must have a pudding-like consistency, such as:
- cooked cereals
- tofu, tau fu fa
- any eggs
- fish (preferably steamed)
- custard (no sugar)
- pureed vegetables
- pureed beans and meat
Vitamins and Minerals From Now On
Multivitamins are vital for avoiding malnutrition, particularly if your bariatric surgery included a malabsorptive component, where part of your small intestine is bypassed (Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, for example).
Why Diet is So Important: Dumping Syndrome
Your doctor will most likely start you on a pureed diet before you leave for home. The progression of your diet looks like this:
- clear liquids
- thick liquid diet including protein shakes
- pureed/soft diet
Your diet is important both immediately after surgery and in the long term. One of the main reasons is to avoid vomiting and dumping syndrome in the case of a gastric bypass.
This is an unpleasant series of side effects that occur when food passes too quickly from your stomach to your small intestine. It causes nausea, lightheadedness, diarrhoea, and vomiting. Dumping syndrome is caused by consuming food with too much sugar (even artificial sugars) or other carbs.
We ended with the rather unpleasant topic of Dumping Syndrome because we wanted to sufficiently scare you into following your post-surgery guidelines. It’s SO important to your recovery and long term success. If you need to, go back and re-read this article so you have a firm grasp of what lies ahead, as well as the importance of following the post-surgical instructions from your doctor.