Are you considering weight loss surgery? If so, you probably have many questions about what the procedure includes and what to expect after surgery.
If you’re just starting out with your research, we are here to answer some initial, basic questions about bariatric surgery for you.
Q: What is the oldest age and the youngest age at which weight loss surgery is recommended?
A: Patients over the age of 65 require very strong indications in order to receive recommendation for surgery. This is because the risk of surgery in this age group is increased, and the benefits, in terms of reduced risk of mortality, are reduced.
Generally accepted guidelines from the American Society for Bariatric Surgery and the National Institutes of Health recommend surgery only for those 18 years of age and older. However, Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss directors recommend surgery for patients 21 years of age or older. This change in age requirement was announced after reviewing patient outcomes and finding that patients 21 and older experienced a higher rate of success compared to patients 18 to 20.
In general, it is important that young weight loss surgery patients have a full understanding of the lifelong commitment to the altered eating and lifestyle changes necessary for a successful surgery.
Q: What happens to the lower part of the stomach that is bypassed?
A: In some surgical procedures, the stomach is left in place with intact blood supply. In some cases, it may shrink a bit and its lining may atrophy, but for the most part it remains unchanged.
The lower stomach still contributes to the function of the intestines even when it does not receive or process food – it is necessary for the absorption of Vitamin B12, contributes to hormone balance and motility of the intestines in ways that are not entirely known.
Q: If I have surgery, what can I expect when I wake up in the recovery room?
A: As with any patients undergoing a major surgery, you will be closely monitored for post-surgical side effects. Statistics show that the most serious complications, like gastrointestinal leakage and blood clots, occur in less than one percent of all bariatric surgeries. The complication risks are greater in morbidly obese patients.
Almost immediately after surgery, doctors will require you to get up and move about. Patients are asked to walk or stand at the bedside on the night of surgery, as well as take several walks the next day and thereafter.
Although it can vary, the hospital stay can be one to two days for a laparoscopic gastric bypass, and five to seven days for an open gastric bypass. You will be expected to stay in the hospital until you are self-sufficient and able to walk.
Q: Will the doctor leave a drain in after surgery?
A: Because of the high level of skill of our surgeons, a drain isn’t typically needed. Sometimes patients will have a small tube to allow drainage of any accumulated fluids from the abdomen. This is merely a safety measure, and it is usually removed a few days after the surgery. Generally, it produces no more than minor discomfort.
Q: Will I experience a lot of pain after weight loss surgery?
A: Every attempt is made to control pain after surgery so that you may begin to move about and become active as soon as possible. This helps speed up recovery.
Often, several drugs are used together to help manage your post-surgery pain. While you are still in the hospital, your physician may prescribe a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA), which allows you to give yourself a dose of pain medicine on demand. Various methods of pain control, depending on your type of surgical procedure, are available.
You’ll be able to ask your surgeon about your pain management options.
Q: How soon can I drive after weight loss surgery?
A: For your own safety, you should not drive until you have stopped taking narcotic medications and can move quickly and alertly enough to stop your car, especially in an emergency. Usually this takes seven to 14 days after surgery. Upon leaving the hospital, you will probably need help with tasks like shopping, lifting items and transportation for a few days.
Q: Can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
It is strongly recommended that women wait at least 18-months after surgery before becoming pregnant. At approximately one year post-surgery, your body will be fairly stable from a weight and nutrition standpoint. At that time, your body should be able to support a growing baby. However, be sure to consult your surgeon if you plan for pregnancy after surgery.
Q: What will the staples do inside my abdomen? Is it okay in the future to have an MRI test? Will I set off metal detectors in airports?
The staples used on the stomach and the intestines are very tiny in comparison to the staples you will have in your skin or even staples you use in an office. Each staple is a tiny piece of stainless steel or titanium. It is so small that it is hard to see other than as a tiny, bright spot.
Because the metals used are inert in the body, most people are not allergic to staples and they usually do not cause any complications in the long run. The staple materials are also non-magnetic, which means that they will not be affected by an MRI test. The staples will also not set off airport metal detectors.
Ready to learn more about weight loss surgery? Find out how you can connect with one of our Bon Secours Surgical Weight Loss Specialists.