While gastric band surgery can be an effective choice to help you achieve your weight loss goals, any surgical procedure can be stressful. One way to relieve that stress is to learn more about what to expect both before and after the surgery.
While much of the hard work occurs after the band is placed, you may be surprised that there is also a significant amount of preparation leading up to the procedure. For example, you will have to undergo several laboratory tests and make significant lifestyle alterations that will help you after the surgery.
Understanding what is involved in both the months and days leading up to the surgery can help ensure that you are adequately prepared for every step along the way. Here’s what you can expect:
Lifestyle Changes Prior to Getting Bariatric Surgery
The idea of losing weight prior to getting bariatric surgery may seem strange at first, research has shown that patients who begin doing so before the procedure have a lower risk of surgical complications and achieve better long-term results. For this reason, your surgeon may ask you to lose some weight in the months leading up to the surgery to set yourself up for success.
Losing weight is difficult, which you surely understand if you are considering bariatric surgery. However, your surgeon will provide some guidance and you can begin a relationship with a nutritionist even before the surgery to help with the process.
Often, surgeons will give you a strict diet to follow in the weeks leading up to surgery. Following this diet is extremely important as it is meant to reduce body fat and to help you recover from surgery more quickly.
This strict diet usually includes more clear liquids, reduced caffeine, no alcohol, and a calorie count between 800 and 1200 per day. Also, surgeons will often want you to start taking vitamins and supplementing your diet with protein shakes to maintain your muscle mass while cutting down on fat content.
While the pre-surgery diet may sound strange, each of the components serves a purpose. For example, caffeine is limited because withdrawals in the post-surgery period can make people feel badly as they heal. Since you will not be able to have soda or coffee after the surgery, it is best to cut down before the procedure.
Also, reducing calories and carbohydrates gives your body time to adjust to having a lower blood glucose level. Smoking increases the risk of complications during surgery and can cause complications with anesthesia, so your surgeon may require you so stop smoking prior to undergoing the procedure. While quitting months to a year prior to the procedure is ideal, even 24 hours without smoking increases the chances of a great recovery.
What to Expect in the Time Just Before Surgery
You should arrive at the hospital or surgery center for your lap band surgery about two hours before your procedure. Most patients stay overnight for observation unless there is a complication necessitating a longer stay. Bring comfortable clothes to wear during this period as well as something to read and a phone charger. Do not bring cash or other valuables such as jewelry.
You may be instructed to avoid wearing nail polish and contact lenses when you come to the hospital. You should also avoid makeup and dentures. Speak to your surgical team about any other items and review the pre-op materials given to you as they will often include a complete list of restrictions. These restrictions are largely meant to maintain a sterile environment in the operating room.
Restrictions often apply to food and drink as well. Typically, you will not be allowed solid food after midnight two days prior to surgery. During this time, you will be able to consume clear liquids to keep hydrated and get some nutrition. If you are unsure about whether or not something is allowable, contact your surgeon’s office instead of taking a chance.
In addition, you may need to stop taking some medications prior to surgery to ensure proper healing. Your surgeon or primary care physician will go over your medication list and provide you with clear instructions about how to proceed. Blood thinners will generally need to be stopped, but this depends on the type that you take.
Many medications will need to be stopped a week prior to the surgery, such as those for gout, weight loss, and some pain relievers. You may additionally need to stop taking supplements, so also tell your doctor about any over-the-counter medications you take. For example, fish oil can thin the blood, so most surgeons will ask you to stop taking it.
If you are on diabetes medications, you should have a management plan for after the surgery before you arrive at the surgical center. People who take insulin will need a much smaller dose since they will be eating less food, for example. Other medications, such as metformin, can usually be continued up until two days prior to surgery and then recommenced afterward. Ask your surgeon if you have any questions.