Before Gastric bypass surgery.. what to do

There are a few things you will need to do in the weeks leading up to your gastric bypass surgery.

You will have discussed beforehand a comprehensive treatment plan for tackling your weight problems with your surgeon and his/her team. This multidisciplinary team will include an obesity doctor or specialist, a dietician and a psychologist. The surgery is one part of this plan which includes a healthy eating schedule, an exercise regime and nutritional supplementation. You will start a diet and exercise routine plan in order to set you on the right path.

The reason for the supplementation is that the surgery will mean that you are unable to fully absorb vital nutrients from your food intake. This means that you are at risk of long term health problems such as anaemia or osteoporosis. In order to prevent this, you will have to take a daily multivitamin and mineral supplement to combat this.

Your team will also have discussed the surgery thoroughly with you, answering any questions that you may have as well as ensuring that you are fully aware of the risks and benefits of the procedure. They need to be reassured that you fully understand what you will be undertaking and that you are committed to following this for the rest of your life. They are there to offer help and support but you will have to demonstrate that you are prepared to fulfil your part – eating healthily, taking exercise and attending regular outpatient check ups. These check ups or follow up sessions are designed for your benefit and to ensure that you are making progress. Plus, if you have any problems or issues then they are there to help.

They will also recommend that you talk to a local patient support group. A support group will consist of people who are or have been in a similar situation to yourself and so are able to empathise with you.

The support of your family and friends is equally important. If you have children then depending on their age, you will have to think of a way of discussing this with them so that they are able to understand. But, you do not want to frighten them either. Older children or teenagers will hopefully be mature enough to deal with this. Your partner’s support is of paramount importance.

If you are a child or teenager then your parents will be with you each step of the way and will look after you following the surgery.

The surgical team will advise you to have a friend on hand to drive you to the hospital for your surgery and to take you home afterwards. He/she will also have to be available to help you with your normal everyday tasks after surgery as you will not be in a fit state to do so. It is important that you do not overstrain yourself or place any stress on your surgical wound so have someone there who can do jobs around the house whilst you are recovering.

As with any surgical procedure the team will take a full medical history. It is important that you let them know of any previous operations that you might have had (especially if they have been abdominal surgery) and what allergies you have, if any. If you are currently on any medication then you will be asked what this is and how often you take it.

If you smoke then you will be advised to give this up at least a month before your operation. Smoking can cause problems during surgery: these include problems with respiration (breathing) as the lungs are hyper sensitive during a procedure and will slow down the healing of your surgical wound.

As well as taking a medical history you will undergo a range of pre-operative tests such as a blood sample, urine sample and blood pressure check.

And, you will be given a list of instructions about what to do before your surgery and afterwards. These will include what you can eat and drink and when to stop before the operation; what medication you can take and when and what you can expect after the surgery.

If you drink then have your last alcoholic drink at least two days before your operation.

The day before your gastric bypass surgery is an important one and here is a list of tasks that will need to be done beforehand:

  • Ensure that you have done your normal grocery shopping beforehand and that it includes plenty of liquids, soups and fruit juices. You will be on a liquid diet for the first two weeks after surgery so this is all that you are able to eat.
  • Make sure you have a plentiful supply of your medications which will include painkillers. It is better to have too many than not enough.
  • Keep together any information that your surgeon and his/her team have given you. Put this into a small folder and ensure it is easily accessible.
  • You will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight. However, if you are taking any medication then continue to do so. Do not be tempted to have anything even a drink of water as it can interfere with anaesthesia.
  • Pack a small case with your medications, list of information given to you beforehand, a soft pillow (useful for when you are travelling home after surgery), loose, comfortable clothes such as a jogging suit and your favourite book. Remember to pack a pair of flat shoes or trainers. Your stomach will be sore and probably swollen afterwards which is entirely normal so wear something which is not going to rub or constrict that area.
  • Take off any jewellery and remove any make up. If you wear a wedding ring then you can use sticky tape to cover this up. If you wear glasses or contact lenses then remember to bring a protective case with you to hold them.
  • If you are being treated as a private patient then remember to bring your insurance documents with you.

On the day of the gastric bypass surgery itself, have a shower or bath beforehand. Have someone drive you to the hospital and stay with you whilst you are admitted. The admission process will be conducted by a nurse who will record your personal details such as name, address, date of birth etc. If you have any allergies or health problems please let the nurse know. Your team will already have this information but it is useful to let the medical staff know.

The nurse will run a few tests which include checking your blood pressure and taking a blood and urine sample.

You will then receive a visit from your surgeon and the anaesthetist. This is standard practice and is meant to see if you are alright and to alleviate any worries that you may have. They know that this is an anxious time for the patient and so will do their best to reassure you. They will answer any questions that you may have. Do not be afraid to ask questions and ask as many as you need to.

You will be given an injection of a blood thinning drug or agent called Heparin. And, you will be given a pair of special compression stockings to wear which help to reduce the risk of blood clots.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Guide sections

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