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Gastric bypass surgery - discharge

Definition

You were in the hospital to have gastric surgery for weight loss. This article tells you what you need to know to take care of yourself in the days and weeks after the operation.

Alternative Names

Bariatric surgery - gastric bypass - discharge; Roux-en-Y gastric bypass - discharge; Gastric bypass - Roux-en-Y - discharge; Obesity gastric bypass discharge; Weight loss - gastric bypass discharge

When You're in the Hospital

You had gastric bypass surgery to help you lose weight. Your surgeon used staples to divide your stomach into a small upper section, called a pouch, and a larger bottom section. Then your surgeon sewed a section of your small intestine to a small opening in this small stomach pouch. The food you eat will now go into your small stomach pouch, then into your small intestine.

You probably spent 1 to 3 days in the hospital. When you go home you will be eating liquids or puréed foods. You should be able to move around without too much problem.

What to Expect at Home

You will lose weight quickly over the first 3 to 6 months. During this time, you may:

These problems should go away as your body gets used to your weight loss and your weight becomes stable. Because of this quick weight loss, you will need to be careful that you get all of the nutrition and vitamins you need as you recover.

Weight loss slows down after 12 to 18 months.

Diet

You will remain on liquid or puréed food for 2 or 3 weeks after surgery. You will slowly add soft foods and then regular food, as your health care provider told you to do. Remember to eat small portions and chew each bite very slowly and completely.

DO NOT eat and drink at the same time. Drink fluids at least 30 minutes after you eat food. Drink slowly. Sip when you are drinking. DO NOT gulp. Your provider may tell you not to use a straw, as it may bring air into your stomach.

Your provider will teach you about foods that you should eat and foods you should stay away from.

Activity

Being active soon after surgery will help you recover more quickly. During the first week:

If you have laparoscopic surgery, you should be able to do most of your regular activities in 2 to 4 weeks. It may take up to 12 weeks if you have open surgery.

Before this time, DO NOT:

DO:

Make sure your home is set up for your recovery, to prevent falls and make sure you are safe in the bathroom.

If your provider says it is OK, you may start an exercise program 2 to 4 weeks after surgery.

You DO NOT need to join a gym to exercise. If you have not exercised or been active in a long time, be sure to start off slowly to prevent injuries. Taking a 5- to 10-minute walk every day is a good start. Increase this amount until you are walking 15 minutes twice a day.

Wound Care

You may change the dressing every day if your provider tells you to do so. Be sure to change your dressing if it gets dirty or wet.

You may have bruising around your wounds. This is normal. It will go away on its own. The skin around your incisions may be a little red. This is normal, too.

DO NOT wear tight clothing that rubs against your incisions while they heal.

Keep your dressing (bandage) on your wound clean and dry. If there are sutures (stitches) or staples, they will be removed about 7 to 10 days after surgery. Some stitches can dissolve on their own. Your provider will tell you if you have them.

Unless you are told otherwise, DO NOT shower until after your follow-up appointment with your provider. When you can shower, let water run over your incision, but DO NOT scrub or let the water beat down on it.

DO NOT soak in a bathtub, swimming pool, or hot tub until your provider says it is OK.

Press a pillow over your incisions when you need to cough or sneeze.

Drugs

You may need to take some medicines when you go home.

Aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and some other drugs may harm the lining of your stomach or even cause ulcers. Talk with your provider before you take these drugs.

Follow-up

To help you recover from surgery and manage all the changes in your lifestyle, you will see your surgeon and many other providers.

By the time you leave the hospital, you will likely have a follow-up appointment scheduled with your surgeon within a few weeks. You will see your surgeon several more times in the first year after your surgery.

You may also have appointments with:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your provider if:

References

Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2985-3023. PMID: 24239920 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24239920.

Mechanick JI, Youdim A, Jones DB, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient--2013 update: cosponsored by American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, The Obesity Society, and American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Endocr Pract. 2013;19(2):337-372. PMID: 23529351 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23529351.

Richards WO. Morbid obesity. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 47.

Thompson CC, Morton JM. Surgical and endoscopic treatment of obesity. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 8.


Review Date: 7/11/2018
Reviewed By: Ann Rogers, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery; Director, Penn State Surgical Weight Loss Program, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.