By Alita Cobb
Bariatric patient & co-host of bariatric podcast Bari Banter.
You have done your research, seen Dr Baxter (and the team), decided on which bariatric surgery is right for you and booked a surgery date. All that is left to do is prepare for the big day. For some this can be a very anxious time, so we have put together some helpful tip, and what to expect after weight loss surgery.
The weeks leading into surgery
By now you will have started your pre-op diet and things will be starting to feel very real. The wait is almost over, now is time to start to prepare for life after surgery. The hospital will provide you with everything you need medically for your stay so when planning your hospital bag, along with the paperwork that has been provided for you, all you need to pack are things that are going to make you more comfortable in the hospital.
- Eye mask and ear plugs (to help you sleep better)
- Your own pillow (This will make you feel more comfortable and often help with those who are anxious)
- Extra long charging cable/extension cord (for charging up your electrical devices)
- Lip balm and moisturizer (to help with dry, dehydrated lips and skin)
- Peppermint tea (this can help with gas pain)
- Flavoured protein water samples & water bottle (there is a chipped ice machine in the hospital, add flavoured water to a cup of chipped ice to help with your fluid and protein intake)
- Baggy, comfortable clothing (You are going to want to be as comfortable as possible)
You may also like to start planning your meals for when you arrive home. You will be on a fluid diet for 7 days post surgery before moving onto your puree diet. Make sure you take home a few of the little red cups from the hospital as these will help you stay on track with your sipping. You may also want to prepare some meals for your puree stage. Our top tip for this–only puree the food when you are ready to eat it. Some people find puree stage mentally challenging, so seeing and smelling the food in it’s original form before pureeing can help overcome the mental barriers that come with puree stage.
The hospital stay
You will get a text or call from the team the week of surgery to confirm your hospital admission time. On the day of surgery you will arrive at your admission time and be taken through to the day surgery ward. From here you will be prepped for surgery by the nursing staff, Dr Baxter and his anaesthetist will speak with you and answer any last questions you have. The procedure will take about 45 – 60 minutes and when it is all over you will wake up in the recovery ward.
The first few days after bariatric surgery can be challenging for some. But try to remember that this is only temporary and things do get easier as time goes by. If you are in pain or uncomfortable, speak to the nurses, they are there to help you.
Other things to expect in hospital:
- Dr Baxter will see you in hospital to check on how you are feeling and answer any questions you may have
- The Bariatric dietitian will also visit you to refresh your memory on what to do when you get home from surgery. She will refer to the paperwork you have been given. It is helpful to record what she says to you as you may still be a little tired and groggy from the anaesthetic
- While rest is important after bariatric surgery, we advise short walks around the hospital ward to help with gas pain
The week after weight loss surgery
You will need to arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital (they will not let you leave alone in a Taxi or Uber). It is completely normal to feel apprehensive at this stage, you may be thinking “What have I done”, our Bariatric consultant will call you on the Friday after your surgery to check on you, answer any questions you have and reassure you that everything is going to be ok. They will also go over what to do on the weekend should you need assistance.
You will be on a fluid diet for the first 7 days, this can consist of protein shakes, protein water, soups, broth etc. You will see Dr Baxter at your post op appointment (typically the Wednesday after your surgery) and he will then ‘graduate’ you to move onto the puree stage.
It is also important to remember that everyone is different after surgery, some can consume more than others, some will feel better than others. Please don’t compare yourself to anyone else and how they are going in their recovery.
Here are some tips for getting through liquid phase:
- You will be aiming for 1 – 1.5L of fluid by day 5 after surgery. It is a good idea to set alarms in your phone to remind you to sip, as it is easy to forget because you may not feel ‘hungry’
- Don’t be alarmed at how little you can consume – It can take up to 20 minutes to consume 30-50ml for some people, for others it might be quicker.
- Water can feel ‘heavy’ and be difficult to drink. Fiji water is said to be the best water if you are feeling this
- Try experimenting with the temperatures of your liquids. If cold water doesn’t feel good, try warming it up or having tea. If warm water doesn’t feel good, try cooling it down with ice
- Some people find that liquids containing lactose after surgery can make them feel nauseous. This is normal for a lot of people, and overtime should subside as your stomach is healing
- If you are experiencing headache, get some paracetamol capsule and empty the powder into a small amount of liquid. This can be easier to stomach over the liquid or effervescent options
- Join our closed Facebook group and connect with people you may have met during your hospital stay. This group is great for asking questions to fellow weight loss surgery patients who are going through exactly the same thing as you
- Never be afraid to ask questions. This is what our trained team are here for. We want you to succeed as much as you do.
Weight loss surgery can be life changing, but it is also important to remember that it is a tool to help you achieve your goals. Put in the hard work and you will get the rewards. If you have any questions or would like some additional support, please call our team on 5444 8594 to book and appointment.