Approximately 1 to 6 weeks prior to your scheduled surgery, you will be scheduled for a visit to the pre-evaluation center at Hopkins Bayview. This session will last about 40-45 minutes. You will meet with a nurse, who will perform an anesthesia screening to determine if you have any special needs in this aspect. The nurse will conduct a brief physical assessment to evaluate your heart and lungs. The nurse will also provide pre- and post-operative teaching to better prepare you and your family for the upcoming surgery.
Often, based on your past medical history, you are requested to have additional evaluations prior to surgery, such as a sleep study for sleep apnea, a cardiac assessment for history of cardiac problems or pulmonary function tests in the presence of respiratory problems.
What to Bring to the Hospital
- Small overnight bag with toiletries (toothbrush, glasses, etc)
- List of current medications and doses
- Insurance cards
- CPAP machine (if you have sleep apnea)
You can expect to be in the hospital for 1 to 2 days for a laporascopic procedure, or 2 to 3 days for an open procedure, one involving making an incision in the abdomen. Your stay may be longer if needed.
*Please remember that your hospital stay is dependent on many factors and may not be the same for every patient.
Path of Care
On the day of your scheduled surgery, you will arrive in the pre-operative area (ASU) where you will prepare for surgery. You will be transferred to the operating room (OR), then to the recovery area (PACU) where you will spend approximately one hour. From there, you will be admitted to the surgical intensive care unit (SICU) or to a regular room on the 6th floor, depending on the type of surgery conducted.
What to Expect After Surgery
- Post-operative Tubes/Drains
When you wake up from anesthesia, you will be aware of many pieces of medical equipment that are routinely used after surgery, including a/an:
- Oxygen mask to provide oxygen. The breathing tube used during general anesthesia will likely be removed at the end of the operation.
- Catheter, placed in your bladder, which is used for 24 to 48 hours. Urine from the bladder is collected into a bag and is measured regularly by the nursing staff.
- Naso-gastric tube, placed through your nose into your stomach, will be removed the day after your surgery. Your throat may be sore for a few days after the tube is removed.
- Gastrostomy tube (G-tube), which may be placed, by the surgeon, into the bottom part of your stomach
- Surgical drain, placed during the operation if you have had an open procedure. The drain will be removed in 48 to 72 hours, or when drainage is minimal
- Post-operative Activity
- Early ambulation is very important to prevent blood clots, pnemonia, and to enhance your overall recovery process. With the assistance of the nurses and physical therapists, you will be getting out of bed on the day of your surgery. The goal is that you spend more time out of bed than in bed. Of course, you will be tired after surgery, so rest periods also are important
- To prevent blood clots, compression stockings are placed around your legs. A pump, attached to the stockings, inflates from time to time to provide gentle pressure on the legs to help circulation. It also is important to move your legs and do ankle twists when you are in bed, or sitting in the chair
- Breathing Exercises
- After you are awake in your room, the nurses will give you an incentive spirometer, a device to help you take deep breaths. Deep breathing exercises are very important to prevent congestion and pneumonia. It will help to hug a pillow when you are deep breathing and coughing. Also, use your pain medication before coughing.
- Before you come to the hospital, you should do deep breathing exercises. Take 8 to 10 very deep breaths and hold for a few seconds. Do this several times a day to help the small airways in your lungs to be to open and in good condition before surgery
- If you use CPAP, bring your machine with you to the Medical Center. Make sure you mark the machine with your name and phone number
- Pain Control
- We are committed to making you as comfortable as possible after surgery. We know that pain may interfere with activities necessary for recovery. It is difficult to get out of bed, walk, deep breathe and cough if you are having pain.
- Initially, pain medication is given through the IV by way of a small pump, called a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) pump. The PCA pump allows you to have frequent, small doses of medication, which provides steady pain relief. The nurse in the recovery room will set up the pump and instruct you on how to use it. You will push a button to give a small dose of pain medication into your IV. The machine will not let you overdose yourself. It will not take away all of your pain, but will make you comfortable enough to do the things necessary to help your recovery. The first day after surgery, the doctor may switch to oral pain medications.
- You will be sore for the first few days, but with each day the soreness will decrease.
Written discharge instructions are given by the surgeon. The instructions outline what you can and cannot do when you go home, diet restrictions, medications, pain management, when to call the doctor, etc. A dietitian will also review the dietary guidelines with you before discharge from the Medical Center. You will also receive prescriptions for medications that you may need. A nurse will review these instructions with you to make sure you understand.
A member of the team is always available by phone. Accessing help, and how to do so, will be discussed with you prior to discharge. We recommend the following:
- Call 911, and go to the ER for issues that require urgent medical attention, such as:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- excessive abdominal pain
- Call the office, or the physician on call, for non-emergent issues, such as:
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or fever
- redness, swelling, drainage or bleeding from the incision
Once you are home, be very careful to follow the instructions given for diet progression. The benefits of surgery can be undone by not following the guidelines. Our dietitian is readily available to answer questions and help you adjust.
It is key that you begin an exercise program as soon as possible. Not only does exercise prevent complications after surgery, it improves weight loss.
Start by walking short distances. Increase your pace and distance each day. Do not attempt any abdominal exercises, weight lifting or swimming. Ask your doctor when you can return to these activities.
- Light housework, short shopping trips and climbing stairs are okay.
- You can shower with your back to the spray. Do not soak in a tub.
- Do not drive or lift heavier than 5 pounds until your first follow-up with your physician.
- Resume normal activities gradually.
- Use common sense! If you have pain, stop what you are doing.
Typically, individuals with a sedentary job return to work within 2 to 3 weeks. Do not return to work until after your first follow-up visit with your physician.
Before you go home, the drains placed during surgery are usually removed. The area is covered with a small dressing. Contact your team if you notice redness, welling, drainage or bleeding from the incision.
Having bariatric surgery is not easy. You can expect to experience a variety of emotions as you recover and maintain your weight loss. Support groups are an ideal way to share experiences, learn coping tips and praise successes. You are invited to attend our free, monthly support meeting at Hopkins Bayview.
Members of our team also are available to talk with you and your family about the adjustment process.