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Bariatric Surgery

After your surgery

What can I expect right after surgery?

When you wake up after bariatric surgery, your body may feel different. You’ll have:

  • 5 or more small incisions (surgical cuts) on your abdomen (belly)
  • staples, small and thin bandages (called Steri-strips), or dissolvable stitches (sutures)

Go to Types of bariatric surgery to see where the incisions sites will be and how the surgery works.

You may also have:

  • a drain in your belly
  • some bloating and discomfort from the air pumped into your belly during surgery (this will get better with time)
  • pain in your shoulder from the air used during surgery (tell your healthcare team if you have shoulder pain after your surgery)

Your surgeon and healthcare team will help you understand what to expect after your surgery.

How long will I need to stay in the hospital?

How long you need to stay in the hospital depends on:

  • the type of surgery you have
  • other health conditions you have
  • if you have problems (complications) after surgery

Most people who have bariatric surgery in Alberta stay in the hospital for 1 to 2 days. Before you go home, it’s important that your pain is under control, that you’re drinking enough fluids, and that you will be able to manage at home without medical care.

Your surgeon and healthcare team will let you know how long they think you’ll need to stay in the hospital after surgery.

How long will I be off work?

You’ll need to be off of work for about 3 to 6 weeks after surgery. The amount of time you’re off work depends on:

  • the type of surgery you had
  • other health conditions you have that may affect your recovery
  • any complications you have after surgery
  • the kind of work that you do

To help you heal, don’t lift more than 3.7 kg (10 lb.) for the first 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. Even though you have small incisions outside your body, you have more incisions inside your body. Your surgeon and healthcare team will help you decide how long to be off work if heavy lifting is part of your job.

Can I drive myself home after surgery?

No, you shouldn’t drive yourself home after surgery. Arrange for someone to drive you home. You may be taking medicine that makes it unsafe for you to drive.

You may find it helps to put a small pillow underneath the seatbelt against your belly. This will make the drive home more comfortable.

What can I do to help manage my pain?

It’s important to manage your pain so you can start moving as soon as possible after surgery. Your surgeon and healthcare team will give you a prescription for pain medicine or tell you what you can take for pain.

Don’t take any type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), after bariatric surgery. NSAIDs put you at a higher risk of having ulcers and bleeding in the stomach and intestines.

If you have questions about how to manage your pain, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Will I be able to take the medicines I was taking before having bariatric surgery?

You may need to adjust the dose of your medicines. This is because bariatric surgery may change the way your body uses certain medicines, especially those you take by mouth.

You may even find that you’re able to stop taking certain medicines that helped manage your health condition before surgery.

It’s important to talk to your doctor and healthcare team about your medicines before and after surgery, so that changes can be made to meet your needs.

What physical activity or exercise can I do after bariatric surgery?

Your healthcare team will tell you what activities you can do after bariatric surgery. Don’t lift anything more than 3.7 kg (10 lb.) for the first 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. Walking after surgery may help you heal and lower your chance of having problems (complications) after your surgery.

An important part of a having a healthy lifestyle is to move every day. When you and your healthcare team decide you’re ready, find activities that you enjoy and look for resources in your community to help you get active in a way that works for you.

Talk to your healthcare team about physical activity and what activities you can do after bariatric surgery.

More information

For more information about what to expect after surgery, go to after your surgery.​​

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