Adjustable gastric banding is surgery to make the stomach smaller. It is done to help people lose weight. The surgery limits the amount of food the stomach can hold. This helps you eat less and feel full sooner.
The cuts (incisions) the doctor made in your belly will probably be sore for a few days after the surgery. If you have stitches, the doctor will take these out at your follow-up visit.
After this surgery, weight loss is usually gradual but steady. You will have regular appointments with your doctor to check how you are doing. The doctor can adjust the band if you are not losing weight as expected, or if you have problems with the band. Some people keep losing weight for 4 or 5 years after surgery.
It's important to think of this surgery as a tool to help you lose weight. It's not an instant fix. You will still need to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. This will help you reach your weight goal and avoid regaining the weight you lose.
It's common to have many different emotions after this surgery. You may feel happy or excited as you begin to lose weight. But you may also feel overwhelmed or frustrated by the changes that you have to make in your diet, activity, and lifestyle. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns or questions.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
- Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
- Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it is okay.
- Until your doctor says it is okay, avoid lifting anything that would make you strain. This may include a child, heavy grocery bags and milk containers, a heavy briefcase or backpack, cat litter or dog food bags, or a vacuum cleaner.
- Hold a pillow over your incisions when you cough or take deep breaths. This will support your belly and decrease your pain.
- Do breathing exercises at home as instructed by your doctor. This will help prevent pneumonia.
- Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
- You will probably need to take 2 to 4 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.
- You may shower, if your doctor okays it. Pat the incisions dry. Do not take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
- Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.
- Your doctor will give you specific instructions about what to eat after the surgery. For the first 2 weeks, you will need to follow a liquid or soft diet. Bit by bit, you will be able to add solid foods back into your diet.
- Your doctor may recommend that you work with a dietitian to plan healthy meals that give you enough protein, vitamins, and minerals while you are losing weight. Even with a healthy diet, you probably will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements from now on.
- At first you may feel full after just a few sips of water or other liquid. It is important to try to sip water throughout the day to avoid becoming dehydrated.
- You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. Your doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You will also be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
- If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
- Be safe with medicines. Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
- Take your medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
- Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- If you have strips of tape on the incisions, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- Wash the area daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing. You may cover the area with a gauze bandage if it weeps or rubs against clothing. Change the bandage every day.
- Keep the area clean and dry.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
- You are short of breath.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
- You cannot pass stool or gas.
- You are sick to your stomach and cannot drink fluids.
- You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.
- You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
- Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
- Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
- You have signs of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the incision.
- Pus draining from the incision.
- A fever.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.
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