The Gastric Bypass Process (before, during and after surgery)
Even if you have been cleared for gastric bypass surgery, you must also be completely committed to the many lifestyle changes you will need to make in order for your surgery to be successful.
Prior to Surgery
Prior to surgery, you will be asked to start making changes to your diet and to add exercise if possible, to make you healthier for surgery. Your insurance may require that you meet and consult with specialists before they authorize surgery. You will meet with the members of the Sacred Heart Bariatric Team for a comprehensive education session prior to your surgery. You will learn about diet, exercise, supplements, lifestyle changes, “do’s and don’ts,” and signs and symptoms of possible complications. This education will be a reinforcement of the information you will also receive from your surgeon.
On the business day prior to your surgery, you will receive a phone call telling you when to arrive for your gastric bypass surgery. Be sure to follow any instructions from your surgeon about medications, special diet, and the requirement to take nothing by mouth just before the surgery.
When you come to the hospital, you will check in at our Patient Registration area on the first floor. You will then be directed to the Short Procedure Unit (SPU) on the fourth floor where nurses will prepare you for surgery.
After your surgery is completed, you will spend a short time in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit. After you awaken, you will be taken to a nursing unit with nurses specially trained to meet your individual needs.
In the nursing unit, your blood pressure, pulse, and respiration will be closely monitored. You may wear compression boots or sleeves on your legs to keep blood clots from forming. You will receive medication for pain and fluids intravenously initially, but you could start on a clear liquid diet the evening of your surgery. This means you can start taking your medication by mouth at that time. You will be asked to get out of bed the evening of your surgery because the sooner you start moving, the better. Patients can expect to go home within one day, but will be evaluated on an individual basis. We want to make sure that you are tolerating fluids and have good pain control with pills before you leave.
After surgery, some patients may experience minor complications such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or wound infections. Some serious but rare complications could include blood clots to the lungs (pulmonary embolism); leaks in the new stomach pouch-intestine connection; ulcers; bleeding; and heart attacks.
Some other common problems could include vitamin deficiencies or malnutrition from malabsorption; anemia; and excess skin that may require surgical removal.
Your surgeon will determine when you should be discharged. Most patients go home in two days, but you must have someone drive you as you will not be able to drive yourself. You will get specific discharge instructions from your nurse and surgeon describing what medications to take, if any, and what activities you may perform.
Office appointments will be scheduled two weeks, three months, and yearly after surgery. It is important that we keep in contact with you in order to track your progress and your new life in the months and years following the procedure. We may ask you to periodically answer questions by mail or phone.
Your New Lifestyle
Gastric bypass surgery is the first step many individuals take to a new and healthy lifestyle. To ensure your surgery is a success, you will need to commit to a different diet and adopt other healthy habits.
Since your stomach pouch can now only hold about one cup of food at a time, you must adjust to eating slowly and eating smaller portions. Eating more than one cup of food at one time could cause you to feel sick or uncomfortable.
You will need proper nutrition and hydration to maintain good health and weight loss. You must drink 8 cups of fluid every day. Avoid high-calorie foods, beverages, and snacks such as candy and other sweets. Eat protein-rich foods such as eggs; cottage cheese; tender, moist chicken; or fish. Chew your food thoroughly to prevent blockage of the stoma (opening from the stomach). Your new diet is described in depth in the packet provided by your surgeon. Since your stomach pouch is rerouted to your intestine, your body will now absorb fewer calories than before.
To protect yourself against malnutrition or vitamin deficiency, it will be important for you to take vitamin and mineral supplements and follow a healthy diet. Anemia, from low iron stores, and osteoporosis, caused by insufficient calcium intake, are possible effects from gastric bypass surgery.
Along with following a healthy diet, you must also include exercise into your life. Exercise is essential to maintaining your new weight.