Going Home After Bariatric Surgery
When you arrive home, the first few days without the guidance of nurses or your surgeon can be very daunting. First, we want you to know that our office staff is always available for any questions you may have or any concerns about your recovery. Now that you are home, it is imperative that you do not perform housework on your own. Too much lifting and exercising, beyond your physical abilities, can cause serious complications. You are also adjusting to the post-op diet phases during this time.
Housework & Driving
Not everyone is in the ideal situation of having a caretaker – whether it is a significant other, friend, family member or hired professional – living with them. It is therefore important to plan for the first couple weeks of recovery well before surgery. For example, you may not be very stable on your feet for the first few days at home, so sleeping in a downstairs bedroom is preferable to going up and down the stairs. Planning for this before surgery ensures that everything you need is already downstairs. You will likely need your caregiver to drive you for the first week or so after surgery as well. This is because any narcotic pain medication you may be taking can interfere with the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Further, patients may not be able to exert full force on the brake pedal during emergency braking because of the pain in their abdomen, creating the possibility of a dangerous situation on the road.
You will continue walking at home. You should be capable of exerting yourself a little more as recovery progresses. Therefore, every day should see a little more walking, but always within your physical limits. If you begin to feel out of breath, dizzy or have any pain, stop immediately.
Showering & Bandages
You will be able to shower immediately after returning home, but do not submerge your wounds underwater such as in a bath or at swimming pool as this can increase the risk of infection. You will have surgical glue over your incisions that will feel hard to the touch. (It is waterproof). It should not be picked at or removed. The glue falls off on its own after about 2 weeks. There are sutures under the skin that will dissolve over time.
The rule of thumb for a successful recovery is that, all other things equal, you should be feeling better and better each day after surgery. If you begin to experience significant pain at the incision site or deep in your abdomen or if your ability to function regresses, this may be an early sign of a complication. This warrants an immediate call to our office. Your postoperative packet will tell you what to expect and when to call our office.
Wound care is also critically important at home. Proper wound care reduces the risk of infection at the incision site. Most importantly, anyone working with or around the wound must wash their hands thoroughly – that’s 20 full seconds of soap, preferably antibacterial, and warm water. While it may be tempting to apply ointments or creams, such as Neosporin, to hasten the healing process, these can actually be counterproductive and should be avoided.