Preparing for Surgery & Procedure

The Weeks leading up to Surgery

  1. Exercise
  2. The best time to begin your exercise program is before your surgery. The sooner you start exercising, the easier it will be after you have surgery. Start moving more, but don’t injure yourself. Walking on a daily basis improves your circulation and makes breathing easier during recovery. You will also benefit from having a plan in place prior to your procedure eliminating the need to establish one during your recovery phase. A pedometer is a great tool to help you track your walking progress. If joint pain becomes an issue and prevents you from walking daily, you may want to look into an aquatics program. Water exercises still condition your breathing but are not weight bearing and therefore are easier for people who have joint problems.
  3. Hygiene
  4. Skin integrity is essential for the operative site. It’s important to maintain good hygiene, by keeping skin clean and dry, especially in the days before surgery. Skin breakdown could possibly cause your surgery to be delayed.

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  1. Medicines
  2. It is important to avoid aspirin and all aspirin-based medicines for at least 10 days prior to surgery. Herbal medications such as St. John’s Wort, Gingko Biloba, garlic, etc. should be avoided, as these have blood-thinning properties. Other herbal supplements such as kava and valerian root are known to interact with anesthesia and should also be stopped at least 10 days prior to surgery.
  3. Remember to tell your surgeon all of the medicines and herbal supplements you are taking. Do not forget to check the label of your multivitamin, as many can contain herbal supplements as well. Remember to check all labels of over-the-counter medicines, since certain ones can contain aspirin, too. When in doubt, please check with your pharmacist and/or surgeon.
  4. Tobacco
  5. Since smoking hinders proper lung function, it can increase the possibility of anesthetic complications. Smoking can increase your risk of complications such as deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). Smoking also reduces circulation to the skin and impedes healing. Smokers who undergo anesthesia are at increased risk for developing cardiopulmonary complications (pulmonary embolism, pneumonia and the collapsing of the tiny air sacs in the lungs) and infection.
  6. Besides the well-known risks to the heart and lungs, smoking stimulates stomach acid production, leading to possible ulcer formation.
  7. Patients are required to stop smoking eight weeks before surgery. Patients must also agree to permanently refrain from smoking after surgery. Ask your primary Care Physician to write you a prescription for a smoking cessation aid, if necessary.
  8. Alcohol
  9. Alcohol causes gastric irritation and can cause liver damage. During periods of rapid weight loss the liver becomes especially vulnerable to toxins such as alcohol. You may find that only a couple of sips of wine can give you unusually quick and strong effects of alcohol intolerance.
  10. In addition, alcoholic beverages are high in empty calories and may cause “dumping syndrome.”
  11. For these reasons, we recommend complete abstinence from alcohol for one year after surgery and avoiding frequent consumption thereafter.
  12. Work and Disability
  13. Typically, bariatric surgery patients can expect to return to work in about two to four weeks, however this can vary from person to person. This may vary greatly. The time you take from works depends on many things, including the kind of work you do, your general state of health, how badly your work needs you, how badly you need you need your work (i.e. the money), your general state of motivation, the surgical approach (laparoscopic vs. open) and your energy level.
  14. It is important to remember that you are not just recovering from surgery, but you are eating very little and losing weight rapidly. We caution you to not rush back to full-time work too quickly. The first few weeks are a precious time to get to know your new digestive system, to rest, exercise and meet with other post-operative patients in support group meetings. If financially feasible, take this time to focus on your recovery.
  15. You may not wish to tell the people you work with what kind of surgery you are having. It is perfectly appropriate to tell as much or as little to your employer as you would like. Although you do not need to tell your employer that you are having weight loss surgery, it is recommended to reveal that you are having major abdominal surgery. Explain that you need two or more weeks to recover, especially if you would like to have some form of financial compensation during your absence.
  16. Your employer should have the relevant forms for you to complete. You may want to indicate that you will not be able to do any heavy lifting for several months after surgery.
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