After Gastric Bypass
Gastric bypass surgery entails the creation of a small stomach pouch which bypasses part of your small intestine with the aim of making your digestive system shorter. Nothing is actually taken away but after the operation, you will only be able to eat small meals as your body will take in less food. An operation is only generally advised if all other options such as diet, exercise and medicines have failed.
Surgical staples will be used to form a pouch from the top part of your stomach which will divide it from the rest. A segment of your small intestine is then bypassed and re- attached to the pouch. The food that you eat will now follow the shorter way through your digestive system ensuring that less food is taken in by your body. The operation usually takes between one and three hours depending on whether it has been done using keyhole surgery or open surgery.
After your gastric bypass operation, you may need some form of pain relief to help with any soreness as the anesthetic gradually wears off.
It’s possible that you will have a catheter fitted to draw the urine out of your bladder and into a bag and narrow tubes extending out from the incision which are there to remove any additional fluid from the wound. These are generally removed after a couple of days.
During the day after your surgery you may feel very sick and bloated, so, to help prevent this, an additional tube may be passed down through your nose and into your stomach. This will help to draw the air and fluid from your stomach.
Also during day one, you will possibly have to have special pads placed on your lower legs. These are attached to a pump which inflates the pads to promote healthy blood flow in your legs. Doing this will help to avoid the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). You will also be encouraged to get out of bed as soon as possible as an additional precaution against blood clots in your legs and to reduce the chance of any chest infection.
You will only be permitted to sip water for the initial 24 hours after your operation and after 2 days you will most likely be given an X-ray to check that the gastric bypass is working and that there are no seepages. You could also be asked to drink liquid that will appear on the X-ray picture. After the first 2 days your surgeon and dietician may put you on a pureed diet for a number of days although they might decide that you should remain on a liquid diet for longer than a couple of days.
In order to get the most benefit from your surgery, you will be advised to keep to a strict diet and ensure that you make the necessary changes in your lifestyle. It is very important to follow the recommendations of your surgeon and dietician concerning what you can and can’t consume.
Normally you will be well enough to go home between 2 and 4 days after your surgery; however, you will not be able to drive yourself home. Before you leave the hospital you will be given additional information about looking after your healing wounds as well as a date for you to return to the hospital for a check up.
Your incision will usually have dissolvable stitches that will vanish on their own between 7 and 10 days. However, if you have non-dissolvable stitches, they will normally be taken out approximately 7 days after the surgery and skin staples are generally removed between 12 and 14 days after the surgery.
You can take painkillers such as paracetomal or ibuprofen after bypass surgery to deal with any soreness or discomfort but make sure that you read the leaflets that come with the medicine and ask your pharmacist for help if you are unsure.
If your operation was done under general anesthetic, you may experience a slight loss of co-ordination so you should avoid driving, drinking alcohol or operating machinery for a minimum of 48 hours. You may also find that your ability to reason clearly deserts you for a brief time, so, if you have any legal documents to sign, you are advised to postpone it until after the initial 48 hours has passed.
Make sure that you listen to and follow your surgeon’s guidance with regard to driving after your operation and get in touch with your car insurer and follow their recommendations otherwise you may not be covered by your insurance. As a minimum you should avoid driving until you’re sure that you can carry out an emergency stop without any pain which will normally take approximately 2 weeks.
As a general rule, you can expect to make a full recovery from a gastric bypass operation after 3 to 6 weeks.