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Before Weight Loss Surgery


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Successful Surgery — Get the Best Results by Making the Right Steps.

Woman sitting on a couchPre-Surgery Lifestyle Changes

The three to six months before surgery are very important ones. During that time, you’ll have pre-admission tests and screenings through your surgeon’s office. You’ll also be mentally and physically preparing for your procedure on your own. The steps you take will help you have the best experience possible during and after surgery, and create healthier habits for life.

  • Quit smoking and stop the use of all tobacco products. Smoking and using tobacco and nicotine products has been shown to greatly increase the risk of complications during and after bariatric surgery. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

  • Stop consuming alcohol. Alcohol is high in calories. After the procedure your body will process it differently, and the intoxicating effects can greatly increase. After surgery, just one drink (defined as a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or 2 ounces of hard liquor) could impair your ability to drive. You may be able to consume alcohol in moderation after your weight has stabilized, but it is better for your health to cut it out completely.

  • Drink more water. Try for 64 ounces every day, and limit other beverages. Eliminate caffeinated, sweetened, and carbonated drinks. You will need to stop drinking liquids with meals, and don’t drink a half hour before or after eating.

  • Exercise daily. Even if you aren’t physically active because of your weight, it’s important to start exercising now. Begin slowly with a plan that fits your physical abilities, and do it consistently. As you lose weight, it will be easier to increase the intensity and amount of exercise you can do.

  • Lose weight before surgery. Pre-operative weight loss helps minimize complications by shrinking the liver and making it easier for your surgeon to access the surgical area. An enlarged liver can cause surgery to be postponed.

  • Change the way you look at food. Start thinking about food as fuel for your new healthier lifestyle. Focus on enjoying healthy food and not eating while doing other activities like watching television or using a computer. Avoid emotional eating when you’re angry or upset.

Pre-Surgery Preparations

After surgery, you will be in the hospital for one to three days, depending upon the procedure and your individual recovery. The week before surgery, you’ll want to make certain that everything is ready for your in-home recovery. Fill all prescriptions, have vitamin and nutritional supplements and post-op food and drinks ready, and arrange for rides to and from the hospital.

The day before surgery, pack a bag with the personal items you’ll need at the hospital, like clothing, glasses, reading materials, and medications. Include insurance documents and any educational materials your surgeon gave you. Leave valuables at home.

After you’re released from the hospital you should be able to take care of needs like personal hygiene, but you will need help with tasks like driving, lifting, and taking care of children and pets. In the weeks following surgery, your focus should be on resting and healing.

As individual surgery experience results vary, the information above is intended to be general in nature. Your surgeon will provide specific instruction and guidance for your own procedure.

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