Before Gastric band surgery...steps to take

As this forms part of a long term obesity plan then you will have started a healthy lifestyle plan. This will include stopping smoking, providing a full medical history and details of any prescribed medication. Your surgeon and his/her team will also talk about the surgery itself, what you can expect after the surgery and the aftercare programme.

In the weeks leading up to your procedure you will have discussed the above with your surgeon and his/her multidisciplinary team. They will go through the procedure with you step by step, explaining what will take place during surgery and the recovery process. This includes highlighting the benefits and the risks so that you are fully informed about the procedure. Your surgeon will also assess your suitability against a set of predefined criteria. This is meant to safeguard you and your surgeon. And, as with other obesity surgery procedures they will advise you about patient support groups and the importance of attending the follow up sessions.

To ensure that you are in the best possible shape before surgery they will start you on a healthy eating plan and will encourage you to exercise as well. It is vital to get you into good habits as soon as possible as having this band fitted means that you will not only be eating smaller portions of food but will have to eat healthy food as well. High fat, high calorie foods are not recommended.

Exercise is a good idea and it doesn’t have to mean joining a gym. If you start off by doing some gentle walking and gradually increase this then you will see and feel the benefits. Once you have recovered from your surgery you can look to increase this or take up new activities.

This may seem rigid but it is aimed at helping you to achieve your desired loss and to maintain a healthy weight. Don’t feel that you have to do this on your own as the support team is there to support you during this time and in the future. Mention to your partner/family/friends about the surgery: their support is vital and is especially useful for those days when things do not as well as you expect. They can provide emotional support and encouragement.

Ask your partner or a good friend to drive you to the hospital and to be on hand afterwards. You will feel a bit groggy and tired after the surgery so ensure that there is someone to look after you until you are able to see to things yourself.

If you have any known medical problems such as an allergy then let the team know as failure to do so could affect your recovery. This should be mentioned when you provide your medical history. You general health will also be checked to ensure that you are fit for surgery. This means checking your blood pressure and performing blood and urine tests.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of this as your surgeon will provide you with set of instructions regarding your procedure - a sort of ‘do’s and don’ts of gastric band surgery’.

The day before your surgery is a time of getting yourself prepared physically and mentally. On a practical level that means ensuring that someone is free to drive you to the hospital, and to stay with you whilst you go through the admission process. They will also have to drive you home afterwards. Even though this is a straightforward procedure you will be having a general anaesthetic and so are likely to feel the affects of that for a day or so afterwards. So, having someone who can take care of things for you at home is a major help.

If you are a child or teenager then you will have to take some time off school/college but will be able to return within a week or so.

For the first couple of weeks following this surgery you will be on a liquid diet whilst you get used to the band and how it works. So ensure that beforehand, you have a supply of liquids such as fruit juices (low sugar), thin soups and skimmed milk. After two weeks you will progress on to semi-solid food and then ‘proper food’ or solids. Also ensure that you have all your medications to hand.
You will experience some post-surgery discomfort and pain but this can be controlled with painkillers so it is as well to make sure that you have a plentiful supply.

Pack a bag or small case with a change of clothes (loose and comfortable), a pair of flat shoes, instructions given to you by your surgeon, insurance documents if you are being treated as a private patient, a good book and any prescribed medication. Also bring with you a small pillow which will help to cushion your stomach on the way home form the hospital. If you wear glasses or contact lenses remember to bring a case or container for them.

Remove any make up and jewellery. If you wear a wedding ring then you can keep that on but place a piece of sticky tape over it.

You will have been advised as regards fasting before surgery. Surgeons usually recommend that you have your last meal and a drink at midnight. However, on the day of your surgery you may be allowed small sips of water.

On the day of your surgery you will have been asked to take a bath or shower before you arrive at the hospital. Once you arrive at the hospital you will go through an admission process which involves recording your personal details such as name, age, address etc.

A nurse will then conduct some pre-surgery tests such as checking your blood pressure, taking a sample of your blood and testing a urine sample. You will also be given an injection of a drug called Heparin to thin your blood. This reduces the risks of any blood clots forming. And, to further help to reduce this risk you will be given a pair of compression stockings to wear. You will receive both or one of these preventative measures against blood clots or DVT (deep vein thrombosis).

If you have been on a long haul flight and have worn compression socks to prevent this then these will be the same.

You will be visited by your surgeon who will ask you to sign a consent form. This is very important as it means that you fully understand what the procedure is and are agreeing to it going ahead. Before you sign this, read through it carefully and if there are any parts that you don’t understand then ask. Your surgeon is there to ensure that you full understand what this procedure involves and that you are happy for it to proceed. Ask as many questions as you need to and if you don’t understand something then don’t be afraid to say so.

This is for your benefit so please make sure that you are satisfied with his/her answers before giving your consent.

Gastric Band Surgery Guide sections

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