What To Expect After Gastric Sleeve Surgery
As soon as you are fully awake and oriented, you may be asked to perform certain activities and exercises that will help you recover more quickly and safely, and help to prevent complications. You may be asked to breathe using your incentive spirometer every one to two hours. This will help open up the small air sacs in the bottom of your lungs, and help prevent pneumonia. You will be asked to get up and walk. This helps prevent blood clots from forming, and decreases pain and gas. It is very important to move adequately after surgery, even if you are scared. You may feel some weakness, nausea, or pain when you first begin to move, but this will get better. Bowel function may take seven to ten days to return to normal. Most patients start belching and passing gas before they go home.
Call Your Doctor If:
- You develop a fever over 101 degrees
- You have uncontrolled pain that medication does not help
- You cannot keep fluids down
- You have excessive vomiting not related to food or pain medications
- You have sudden shortness of breath or have difficulty breathing
- You notice dark or tarry (bloody) stools
- Your incisions begin to leak pus
- You develop severe swelling and pain in one leg
- You have any unusual events that concern you
Recovery periods vary from patient to patient and depend on the type of surgery you have. Take time to follow your surgeon’s instructions, and be sure to use this time to practice healthy habits, such as diet and exercise. Remember, your health is worth the time it takes to fully recover. Try not to rush it. After all, your body will be healing from surgery.
Discomfort and Pain
You will be given adequate pain medication to take home. Your most painful site may be the large incision on the left side of your abdomen. This incision may hurt for four to six weeks, this is normal. You may experience periods where it hurts worse than others – this is also normal. It may become inflamed as your activity level increases, but this is also normal. You may also note that it hurts more in certain positions (e.g. sitting for long periods or bending over).
It may take seven 10 ten days for your bowels to return to normal functioning. You may take an over the counter stool softener, if needed, and a mild laxative if you have not had a bowel movement after ten days. Your new normal for bowel movements may be as little as once per week, or more commonly, every two to three days. If you have gas, you may take chewable Gas-X or Mylicon drops. Walking also may help the gas to move. You may experience some diarrhea after surgery. This is most commonly caused by the liquid protein supplements. This problem should resolve as you advance your diet.
Personal Care/Incision Care
You may shower, and your incisions can get wet. You may take a bath (soak in a tub) and swim two weeks after surgery. Pat your incisions dry. You need not put anything on them such as creams or ointments. Your incisions will be covered by a transparent skin glue after your operation. The glue serves not only to close the skin, but also to protect the incisions from water and bacteria. This glue should fall off in on one to three weeks. A small rim of redness around the incision is normal. Routine use of antibiotics is not recommended after surgery; however, if redness extends greater than two finger widths from the incision or you have any drainage from incisions, call the office for advice.
Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity will vary according to your physical condition. You may resume activities of daily living gradually, making sure you do not lift anything over 20 pounds for four weeks. You may find that you tire quickly and need to rest frequently. This should get better with time. You may begin driving one to two weeks after surgery; make sure that you are not experiencing pain and are not on any pain medication. You may resume sexual relations two weeks after surgery. You may discuss this on an individual basis with your surgeon. When home, make sure you stand and walk a short distance every one to two hours; do this for the first two weeks after coming home from the hospital. After two weeks, begin to take leisurely walks outside your home for about 20-30 minutes. After four weeks, you may begin an exercise program and begin lifting weights with no restrictions.
Vitamins and Supplements
You may begin taking your chewable multivitamins and sublingual (under the tongue) B 12 when you get home. Start your protein supplements one month after surgery. Do not get discouraged or stressed if you cannot get the total amount of protein and water that is expected. Do the best you can, and remember, everything should get easier with time.
Most patients are not hungry after surgery. However, some begin to feel hungry a couple of days after surgery. Others never feel hungry again. This varies from patient to patient. Often, if you are one that is hungry from the beginning, this subsides greatly as you advance your diet to solid foods. There is also a mental component to this, which is simply a desire to eat because you “miss” food.