How long will it take to fully recover from my surgery?
Your recovery time will depend on the type of bariatric surgery you had (gastric bypass, gastric banding, or gastric sleeve with or without duodenal switch). Your bariatric surgery team will send you home with care instructions and require various follow-up visits. Let’s talk briefly about the recovery times for each type of surgery (of course, keep in mind recovery times vary from person to person and can depend greatly on your health before surgery and whether or not there are complications).
Gastric bypass will require a hospital stay (3 to 5 days, possibly less for laparoscopic), and the nurses will have you up walking around as soon as possible after surgery. Moving around is good; it helps the healing process (though if something hurts to do, stop doing it). You’ll want to avoid lifting anything heavier than about 10 pounds, or doing any pushing or pulling, until you see your doctor. Your doctor will tell you when it is safe to drive, usually after about a week (although you won’t be able to drive as long as you are taking narcotic pain medications). You should be able to go back to work in 2 – 3 weeks , and do most of your normal activities within 4 to 8 weeks.
Your hospital stay for gastric banding will be fairly short (24 hours or less for laparoscopic). You’ll want get moving as soon as possible, and try to start a walking plan as soon as possible (exercise will help with bowel function, in addition to lifting your mood and making you feel better). You won’t get your first “fill” (which tightens the band and starts restricting the amount you can eat) until about 4 weeks. It’s common for patients to think the surgery didn’t work at first, because the weight loss happens much more slowly than with other procedures. You should probably be able to return to work within about a week (your doctor will tell you when it’s safe).
Duodenal Switch/ Gastric sleeve
The duodenal switch surgery is the most aggressive and most complicated, and requires the longest hospital stay. This more aggressive approach is sometimes usually used for people with higher BMIs (50 or greater), which means that patients are often unhealthier going into the surgery, and at a greater risk for complications (which add to overall recovery time). As with the other surgeries, you’ll want to move around as soon as you can, and follow all other recovery instructions. Recovery will probably take 3 – 4 weeks. For the gastric sleeve alone (usually performed laparoscopically, even on higher BMI patients), recovery time may be shorter (1 to 2 days in the hospital, with recovery/return to work in about 2 weeks).