Recovering from gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery

Recovering from gastric bypass (bariatric) surgery

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Gastric bypass or bariatric surgery is a technique used to help patients deal with issues relating to weight, obesity and related conditions. This article explores what patients can expect when recovering from gastric bypass surgery including recovery times, side-effects and what is involved in the procedure.

Every year, around 200,000 people in the United States elect to have gastric bypass surgery. This type of surgery uses several different methods and procedures to help patients control issues with weight, appetite and eating. These surgical techniques are collectively known as bariatric surgery. In this article we'll explore what patients can expect when they are recovering from gastric bypass surgery.

The intent behind gastric bypass and other bariatric surgery is to reduce the ability of the stomach to accept food, normally by reducing the size of the stomach. Various surgical techniques have been developed to accomplish this, but the most common type of bariatric surgery works as follows:

  • The surgeon creates a small pouch in the stomach that limits the amount of food a patient can eat.

  • A larger part of the stomach is partitioned to prevent food being digested there.

  • The gastrointestinal tract is connected to the new part of the stomach.

Following the surgery, the typical recovery of patients is as follows:

  • Patients spend two to five days in hospital.

  • They will be able to get up and walk around after a couple of days.

  • They will be able to return to light work and activities after three to four weeks.

  • They will be able to return to normal work and activities after around four to six weeks.

  • Complete recovery in two to four months.

If a patient has had laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery for their gastric bypass, recovery times and the trauma of recovery are significantly lessened. A patient can speed their recovery by performing gentle exercises and other activities, following consultation with a doctor or other specialist.

Typical effects from the surgery include:

  • Discomfort and pain from the surgery.

  • Significant changes in appetite.

  • Nausea and other feelings of being unwell.

  • Insomnia and tiredness.

  • Weakness.

  • Mood swings and changes to emotional state.

  • Changes to the digestive system.

Gastric bypass surgery is very effective at treating issues with eating, appetite and weight control. Significant reductions in a person's weight and associated medical conditions are normal for the majority of patients.

Content originally written by Paul Maplesden, a freelance writer, and edited by me.

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