Your Hospital Stay after Bariatric Surgery
The hospital stay after your bariatric procedure will depend on a) the procedure you have undergone b) how well you are recovering after surgery and c) your individual health problems. Of course, no one wants to stay in the hospital longer than they have to.
Typical discharge times are one to two days after surgery for gastric bypass and either the same day or next day for the gastric sleeve. Our gastric bypass procedures are performed in the hospital setting, rather than a surgery center, as a result of the need for overnight facilities. Depending on the patient, the gastric sleeve may be performed at a hospital or an outpatient facility.
A Typical Hospital Stay After Bariatric Surgery
Immediately after the procedure, you will be brought to the recovery room where it will take a short time to wake up from general anesthesia. When you wake up, the effects of the anesthesia will still be present. You will feel groggy. Soon after, the nursing staff will get you up and walking around the recovery area. This serves to reduce the risk of infection and to minimize the chance of developing blood clots in your legs. While you may not feel like getting up, we encourage you to walk as much as possible within your physical limits.
You will also be asked to take a deep breaths and cough occasionally. This can be painful, but it is necessary to minimize the chances of pneumonia – an infection in the lungs.
Your diet, while in the hospital facility, will start on a modified clear liquid diet which lasts for about 48 hours after surgery. This is very important in kickstarting your new, postoperative lifestyle before discharge. At discharge, you will receive a comprehensive postoperative packet that includes other important information. Please do not consume any outside food or drink unless it conforms to the clear liquid diet and is approved by the medical staff. If you have any questions about what the post-operative diet entails, please speak to your surgeon or the nursing staff.
With that being said, most patients do not feel terribly hungry immediately after surgery due to the lingering effects of general anesthesia. While you may not feel hungry, it is important to stay hydrated and we will make sure that you do so.
Most patients can control any pain with non-narcotic medication (Acetaminiphen/Tylenol) after surgery. We use a long-acting local anesthetic to block the nerves to your abdominal wall. It is rare for patients to require narcotic pain medications, although it will be made available to you. Ultimately, we do not want you to be in significant pain. This is for two reasons. First, we want you to be comfortable. But second, and most importantly, excessive pain restricts your ability to walk, breathe deeply and cough, all three of which are necessary for a complication-free recovery. Therefore, please notify the nursing staff any time you are not comfortable. You will feel pain in the incision sites, but you may also feel some lingering pain from the carbon dioxide used to inflate your abdomen for surgery. Don’t be alarmed if this manifests as shoulder pain, which usually resolves in 24 hours.
The Discharge Process
While you are at the hospital or surgery center, you will have access to your surgeon, either Dr. Tsuda or Dr. Ryan, our physician’s assistant, Brian Grace PAC, as well as the very attentive nursing staff. The time required to get you discharged will vary based on how busy the facility is. Hospitals usually take longer to discharge than surgery centers, just because of sheer volume.
As part of your pre-op instructions, you will have to arrange for a friend, family member or significant other to pick you up and care for you in the few days after surgery. This is important because you will not be allowed to drive, pick up heavy items or do anything more than the lightest of activities in the immediate post-op.