Weight Loss Surgery What to Expect
‚ÄčThe decision to undergo weight-loss surgery is life changing. At Emerson Hospital’s Center for Weight Loss, we’re committed to your success—which starts with you knowing exactly what to expect. Here’s an overview:
 

A free information session

Our comprehensive program begins with a free, two-hour information session where you’ll learn all about the different weight-loss surgery options available to you. You’ll receive detailed literature and a confidential questionnaire to complete prior to your initial consultation.
 

Your initial consultation

At the initial consultation appointment, our team of specialists will assess if weight-loss surgery is right for you. If the answer’s yes, we’ll guide you through choosing the most appropriate surgical option. Then we’ll schedule your pre-surgery appointments and ensure you meet any other insurance requirements.


Before surgery

A few days before surgery, you’ll meet with your surgical team again to review the procedure and learn what to expect during your hospital stay and the following two weeks. Our staff will also address any remaining questions or concerns you or your family may have. In addition, you’ll have a preoperative appointment with the anesthesia staff to evaluate any anesthesia concerns.
 

On the day of surgery

On the day of your surgery, your weight-loss surgeon will walk you through the entire operation and answer any remaining questions. Emerson’s bariatric surgeons use a minimally invasive technique in which ¼- to ½-inch incisions are created and long-handled instruments are used. This laparoscopic method is associated with faster recovery, less pain and less scarring. 

You can expect to spend one to two nights in the hospital, depending on the type of bariatric surgery you’re having.
 

Your recovery

Recovery varies depending on the individual, as well as which procedure is performed. Most patients resume normal activities within two to three weeks of surgery. 

Light exercise such as walking is encouraged within three to four weeks of your operation, limited only by any discomfort you feel. You shouldn’t lift anything over ten pounds for the first six weeks after surgery. Full recovery is expected between three to six weeks. 
 

FAQs about life after surgery

The Center for Weight Loss offers ongoing support as part of the surgery and recovery process. This includes customized weight loss and nutrition counseling, monthly support groups, psychological counseling, dietitian and physician assistant evaluations, and follow-up care and support. 

Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions we receive:
 

How long do I have to stay in the hospital after surgery?

It varies from person to person, and depends on the type of bariatric surgery you have. Generally, the hospital stay is one night for gastric banding, and two to three nights for a laparoscopic gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy.
 

How long will recovery take?

As with any major surgery, there will be a recovery period. Remember: this is a necessary step and the better care you take during recovery, the more quickly you’ll return to normal activity. Recovery time varies from patient to patient, but generally is about two weeks.
 

How much postoperative pain and discomfort will I experience?

Most bariatric surgery patients report experiencing only minimal discomfort and soreness after going home. Recovery does vary from patient to patient and is usually slowed by lack of stamina rather than pain or disability. Most patients are able to return to work in about two weeks.
 

When can I go back to my normal activity level?

Your ability to resume pre-surgery activities depends on your physical condition, the nature of the activity and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many patients return to normal activity levels within two to three weeks of surgery. We strongly encourage no lifting of more than 10 pounds for six weeks after surgery to help decrease the risk of hernias and allow for proper healing.
 

What will my life be like after surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix. It’s an ongoing journey toward transforming your health through lifestyle changes. After surgery, you’ll feel satisfied with less food. Positive changes in your body, your weight and your health will occur—if you maintain the diet and exercise routines recommended by your bariatric team.
 

Will I receive support in adjusting to new daily habits after surgery?

Absolutely. You’ll continue to receive personalized support as you adjust to your new habits and lifestyle after surgery, which will help ensure long-term success. Monthly support groups and scheduled individualized appointments with our behavioral health practitioner, dietitian, physician assistant and surgeon will be a major part of your long-term success.
 

How much exercise do I need after bariatric surgery?

Exercise is an important part of success after surgery. You’ll be encouraged to begin exercising, limited only by discomfort, about two weeks after surgery and after discussion with your physician. The type of exercise depends on your overall condition, but the long-term goal is to do 30 minutes of exercise three or more days every week.
 

Will I always have to take vitamins?

Because the gastric bypass works through some level of malabsorption, we recommend that patients who undergo a bypass take a multivitamin every day for the rest of their lives. We’ll help you manage your vitamins, and on occasion some patients will need to take more than a daily multivitamin. 

For those who undergo gastric banding or sleeve gastrectomy, we’ll follow your lab results and make specific recommendations for taking vitamins as needed.
 

Can I still take medications?

For the first few weeks following surgery, your doctor will suggest that all medications be taken in crushed or liquid form. Once your body has healed, most patients can return to taking whole pills or cut pills that are no bigger than the top of a thumbtack or the bed of your pinkie nail. 

You’ll be asked to avoid certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These include Motrin, ibuprofen, Advil, naproxen and Aleve. These medications can be harmful to your new anatomy and may cause ulcers. 

Time-release medications are generally to be avoided after a gastric bypass, and you may need to change the dosing or form if you’re taking this type of medication. As a general rule, ask your surgeon before taking any new medication.
 

Can I get pregnant after bariatric surgery?

We recommend women wait at least 18 months after any of these procedures before getting pregnant. Your body should be fairly stable from a weight and nutrition standpoint approximately 18–24 months after surgery, and you should be able to carry a normal pregnancy. Consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.
 

Can I drink alcohol after these procedures?

We generally recommend that you do not drink alcohol for the first two months after surgery. After that, limited amounts of alcohol are acceptable as tolerated. Many patients have a difficult time with the sugar or carbonation in some alcoholic drinks, so you will have to see what you can tolerate over time. The calories in alcohol are also something to monitor to avoid lessening your weight loss.