If weight-loss surgery is the right option for you, your surgeon will refer you for pre-operative tests and lab work. You may be asked to stop smoking or drinking alcohol as early as one month prior to surgery. In addition, you may be told to stop taking aspirin or arthritis medications as they can slow the clotting of blood.
We recommend you discuss blood donation options with your surgeon in case a blood transfusion becomes necessary. Your surgeon may recommend that you donate your own blood weeks in advance.
You will also be asked to participate in a preoperative education class and tour of the unit prior to surgery.
GW Hospital has a dedicated bariatric unit for patients who undergo surgical weight-loss procedures. Patient rooms have been furnished with the larger patient in mind so the beds and chairs comfortably accommodate most individuals. Nurses work closely with the physicians and are well trained to care for patients recovering from weight-loss surgery.
You will be closely monitored during your hospital stay. To help manage your pain, special analgesia machines will allow you to self-administer pain medication until you are able to take oral medications.
Postoperative leg exercises may be recommended and/or a compression device may be attached to your legs to help prevent the formation of blood clots and to improve circulation. Your doctor will likely encourage you to be up and walking as soon as possible to help your circulation.
After surgery, you will start on a liquid diet and then transition to a pureed, soft and regular diet, as instructed by your doctor. Your individual progress will determine the length of time needed for each eating phase.
Your surgeon will discuss a postoperative plan with you, which is essential to the long-term maintenance of your weight loss. This may include referrals to nutritionists, exercise programs, psychotherapists and/or support groups.
Patients generally stay in the hospital for two to four days.
After weight-loss surgery, the amount you can eat before feeling full is significantly reduced. Your doctor may recommend eating several (eight to ten) small meals throughout the day to ensure you get proper nutrition. Most patients experience some difficulty tolerating red meat, chicken and sweets after surgery. During the first three to seven months of reduced food intake, some patients experience nausea, vomiting, food intolerance, changes in bowel movements, constipation, transient hair loss and loss of muscle mass. Nearly all patients usually see a significant improvement in how they feel when dietary intake is improved (6 to 12 months).
After many months of losing weight you may have excess skin that did not contract during your weight loss. Once your body has stabilized after 12 to 18 months, you may wish to talk with your surgeon about undergoing plastic or cosmetic surgery to correct the condition.
Podcast: Plastic Surgery: Beyond the Cosmetic
Praful Ramineni, MD, discusses the vast arena of plastic surgery, which expands beyond what one typically connotes with the field, such as complex hernia surgeries, wound care, cancer reconstruction, removing excess skin in patients who have lost massive amounts of weight and breast reduction. Dr. Ramineni explains how many of these procedures are covered by insurance and the process by which criteria is approved.