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Bariatric Surgery Recovery: What to Expect After Weight Loss Surgery

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Once you’ve made the decision to have bariatric surgery — or even if you’re still considering your options — understanding what to expect after surgery can help put your mind at ease.

Weight loss surgery is a life-changing event that often represents a new beginning for our patients, starting with the procedure itself. If you are considering weight loss surgery or have already scheduled your bariatric procedure, take some time to read these frequently asked questions about recovery from surgery and life after weight loss surgery.


What will recovery be like?

Most bariatric procedures — including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and gastric banding — are laparoscopic procedures, meaning the surgeon makes small cuts to perform the procedure. Whether or not you’ll have to stay in the hospital overnight varies from patient to patient. While some patients get to go home the same day, others may need to stay a few days after surgery. In most cases, patients can be back to work in one to three weeks. In rare cases, the procedure may need to be an “open” surgery, which requires larger cuts and a longer healing and recovery process.

The McCarty Mini Sleeve is different in that it is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes. Patients can expect to go home the same day, with no restrictions and little pain or bleeding.


What are the potential side effects?

As with any medical procedure, there is some risk of side effects from bariatric surgery, though most patients experience no serious problems and only about 10 percent have minor complications. The current complication rate of the McCarty Weight Loss center is around .003%. Some common side effects of weight loss surgery include temporary constipation due to high protein diet.

Hair thinning is also a common side effect of surgery, particularly in the period between three and six months following surgery. Hair loss is usually temporary, and ensuring you get enough protein, vitamins and minerals can help reduce hair loss and ensure hair re-growth.

Patients with preexisting health conditions may be at a higher risk for side effects or complications from weight loss surgery. Your doctor will explain your individual risks to you prior to surgery.


What kind of follow-up appointments will I need?

To maximize your success, it’s important to keep your follow-up appointments after surgery. During these appointments, we will discuss your nutrition and exercise habits and any questions you may have. Lab work will also be necessary in the weeks and months post-surgery. We encourage our patients to take advantage of our surgical support services, including nutritional guidance, fitness training, psychological counseling and support groups. We like to see our patients at 2 weeks post-surgery, 6 weeks post-surgery, 6 months, and 1 year. All 2 week post-surgery patients are given a 2 week meal planner and another nutritional class at 6 weeks after surgery to guide them for long term success.


How soon can I start exercising after surgery?

Before you ever leave the hospital, you will be up, moving around and taking short walks. Regular walking in the hours and days immediately after surgery can help ease your discomfort. It’s important to take it slow and get your doctor’s approval before beginning weight-lifting or high-impact activities. For the first month, stick to low-impact exercises like walking and build your tolerance and endurance over the course of several weeks. If you enjoy swimming, be sure your wounds have healed completely before getting back into the pool.


Can I get pregnant after surgery?

For many women who have struggled to conceive, weight loss surgery may increase their chances of getting pregnant. PCOS is a common issue with women who are overweight and can be less fertile. After weight loss, PCOS can be corrected and women can become even more fertile. Most bariatric surgeons recommend waiting at least 12 to 18 months after surgery before getting pregnant. Sometimes, patients who get pregnant sooner after surgery have no birth effects. We simply focus on the baby and postpone weight loss until the baby is born. Dr. McCarty has even published a study on pregnancy after gastric bypass proving that it does not effects infants in the Milliman Care Guidelines for gastric bypass surgery, other than a slightly lower birth weight. Most weight loss surgery patients who do have children after surgery have a lower risk of pregnancy complications — such as gestational diabetes eclampsia — and complications during labor.


Will I need plastic surgery after weight loss surgery?

Most patients will experience loose or sagging skin due to rapid and dramatic weight loss after surgery. Although plastic surgery isn’t a post-op requirement, many patients desire additional aesthetic procedures to achieve their desired shape after surgery. McCarty Weight Loss Center has teamed with Lakewood Aesthetics to offer the latest in minimally invasive and non-invasive body contouring solutions, such as SmartLipo, Botox, and facial fillers along laser skin resurfacing and anti-wrinkle treatments.


The thought of weight loss surgery can be intimidating or even scary, but stay focused on the results. If you have struggled with your weight for any length of time or deal with any coexisting health problems due to your weight, bariatric surgery is one of your best options to lose the extra weight and keep it off long-term. If you have more questions about weight loss surgery, give us a call today!