After gastric bypass, patients are monitored in the hospital over the next few days to ensure that the stomach heals properly and that the patient can fully recover. Pain medication is available as needed.
Patients are encouraged to get up and walk around as soon as they feel comfortable. You may experience aching around the incision and the abdominal muscles, which may be worse with deep breathing, coughing and physical exertion. Your doctor will instruct you on certain breathing exercises that can help relieve pain. Patients should avoid heavy lifting for several months to avoid straining the abdominal muscles.
Once the patient returns home, it is important to keep the surgical area clean and dry. Stitches or staples used to close the incision will be removed during a follow-up appointment to the doctor within a few weeks after surgery.
Once the procedure has been completed, patients will not be able to eat for one to three days so that the stomach can properly heal. A special diet will then be required for the next 12 weeks, beginning with just liquids and then progressing to soft foods and finally regular foods.
After surgery, the stomach can hold about a tablespoon of food and is about the size of a walnut. This will expand over time but will not exceed one cup. A normal stomach holds one quart. Because the stomach size is substantially reduced, patients are limited in the amount of food they can eat in a single meal. They also don't suffer from constant hunger. Smaller meals eaten throughout the day are recommended. If patients eat too much or too fast, especially during the first six months after surgery, they may experience vomiting or severe pain below the breastbone.
One risk of gastric bypass surgery is vitamin and mineral deficiency and anemia. It is important to make sure you receive the proper amount of vitamins and nutrients after surgery through a healthy diet and nutritional supplements. Regular meetings with your surgeon and a dietitian will be scheduled before and after surgery to establish a diet and exercise plan to determine whether nutritional supplements are necessary.
Patients who undergo Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery must be willing to make life changes to achieve and maintain weight loss and prevent complications from the surgery. With determination, good nutrition and regular exercise, the results can be dramatic. Most patients lose about 1-2 pounds per week and reach a stable weight 18 to 24 months after surgery. After this time, patients can expect to have lost 50 to 60 percent of their excess weight. Weight loss is typically most dramatic in the weeks immediately after surgery.
In addition to significant weight loss, patients also benefit from immediate relief from weight-related illnesses such as sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heartburn and incontinence. Elimination of conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure also helps reduce the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular events.
Although gastric bypass offers an unmatchable weight loss solution for many obese patients, there are certain risks associated with this procedure, as with any type of surgical procedure. Some of these risks may include:
Some patients may also experience a vitamin and mineral deficiency, dehydration and low blood sugar after this procedure, as it relies on malabsorption as an effective means of weight loss.
It is important for patients to discuss these risks with their doctor before undergoing the gastric bypass procedure. Patients are encouraged to explore all treatment options before making a decision about this procedure. Our doctors are available to answer any questions you may have while deciding whether or not to undergo this procedure.