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Postoperative Pain After Bariatric Surgery

With improvements in technology and technique, advanced anesthesia protocols, and our surgeons’ experience, we have been able to reduce postoperative discomfort and pain significantly when compared to years past. This allows our patients to be more active and feel better to focus on their health and weight loss sooner after bariatric surgery.

We have also incorporated a long-acting anesthetic that keeps patients more comfortable for longer, allowing them to get walking sooner after surgery without having to compromise due to pain. This ability to exercise immediately after surgery helps patients recover more quickly and helps ward off serious complications, including infection.

To some degree, the amount of pain or discomfort patients will experience depends on their personal pain threshold. Some patients decide to tough it out and take as little pain medication as possible, while others take their pain medication as prescribed and recommended. Either is OK. But, we do not want you to suffer after surgery – this is the beginning of a new life and lifestyle for you, and pain only gets in the way of recovery.

How Much Pain Can You Reasonably Expect?

When patients ask us about how much pain they should expect, our best answer is that most patients’ discomfort can be well-managed with our long-acting anesthesia and some acetaminophen/Tylenol. It is now rare for any patient to require narcotic pain medication for more than a day or two, although this will still be prescribed and can be taken in the early part of recovery, if needed.

Avoid NSAIDs

It is important to note that NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil/Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) and aspirin should not be taken after bariatric surgery due to the significant risk of stomach pouch irritation and the potential for ulcers in the stomach and small intestine.

As for how long it will take for the pain to subside, patients should see an improvement in pain, swelling and redness each day. If you notice the pain is getting worse, redness or swelling is increasing or you are generally feeling worse, this is the time to call our office.

The bottom line is that with advances in laparoscopic technology — especially with the robotic technique, advanced anesthesia and proper postoperative pain management, we have been able to reduce the length and severity of postoperative pain significantly for virtually all of our patients.