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What to expect after weight loss surgery

Learn more about recovery from weight loss surgery and what you can expect in the days and months after the procedure.

November 09, 2022

If you’ve decided to undergo weight loss surgery, you may be wondering what to expect after the procedure itself. How long will you have to stay in the hospital? When can you go back to work? How often will you have follow-up appointments? Read our blog to learn more about what to expect in the days, weeks and months after weight loss surgery.

How long will you stay in the hospital? 

Since weight loss surgery often only requires a small incision, this means recovery time is shorter. Typically, patients will stay in the hospital overnight for monitoring and are ready to go home the next morning. Dr. Amit Taggar, a weight loss surgeon at HCA Florida South Tampa Hospital, has five checkpoints a patient must meet before they leave the hospital:

  1. Ability to walk. Typically patients can walk a few hours after surgery.
  2. Can drink water throughout the day. After surgery, it’s crucial that you continue to drink water. You should be able to drink small amounts often before you leave the hospital.
  3. Pain is limited. This means your pain level is well controlled, and you may be taking a small amount of oral medication.
  4. Off of oxygen. You should be able to breathe freely on your own before leaving the hospital.
  5. Ability to urinate.

When can you return to work? 

One of the top questions many patients have when it comes to weight loss surgery recovery time is when they can return to work. Taggar explains, “The vast majority of patients that we have typically take one week off or two weeks off. A lot of patients have surgery on Thursday and they work from home and they go back to work on Monday or Tuesday…Surprisingly, we have a lot of people who think they're going to take a long time off, but we tell patients they can go back to work relatively quickly.”

However, if you have a job that requires lifting heavy objects, it’s important to proceed with caution. “With any abdominal surgery, whether it's bariatric surgery or gallbladder…we don't want patients to lift heavy weights for about four weeks,” says Taggar.

When you’re making plans to go back to work, keep the following in mind:

  • Most patients go back to work in one to two weeks.
  • After any abdominal surgery, don’t lift heavy objects for about four weeks.
  • If you have a job that involves heavy lifting, do light duty or take off work for the first four weeks.

Don’t forget to hydrate

Following surgery, it’s also crucial to ensure you’re taking small sips of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Especially if you have gone back to work, it can be easy to get distracted and forget to drink water. Dr. Taggar says, “People think that after surgery, ‘I can't go to work. I'll be in so much pain.’ It really is just hydration because a lot of times you get busy with your job, and you might not think to drink.”

What to expect once you return home  

Your surgeon’s office will typically follow up with you a few days after your procedure. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), you can expect follow-up appointments every few months in the first year after your procedure. After that, you will likely have a follow-up appointment every year.

Keep in mind that after weight loss surgery, your diet and lifestyle will be different than they were before. Your weight loss surgery team can help connect you with the resources you need to achieve long-term success. This may include support groups and personalized diet and exercise plans.  

Want to learn more about the weight loss surgery options we offer and if it’s right for you? Watch our weight loss seminar here.

November 09, 2022

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