How to Have a Smooth Post-Bariatric Surgery Recovery
Bariatric surgery refers to a surgical operation on the digestive system that aims at managing obesity problems. This procedure targets severe obesity (class 2 and 3) where the BMI is over 35. These classes of obesity cannot be managed easily with diet or exercise.
The surgery can be of two main types. One type is where the stomach is made smaller so that small quantities of food or drinks fill it faster and the patient remains fuller for longer. The other type of surgery involves making changes in the small intestines so that the surface where nutrients and calories are absorbed is made smaller.
With each of these types, there are specific techniques the surgical team and the patient can consider to reduce physical stress on the patient and improve the speed of recovery.
Is Bariatric Surgery a Major Procedure?
Bariatric surgery is a relatively major procedure. Severe obesity in itself carries with it significant surgical and anesthetic risk. Some patients who come for the surgery already have obesity-related complications such as diabetes, kidney problems and heart disorders that may include high blood pressure. For this reason, managing the post-bariatric surgery period sensibly is vital for a fast and safe recovery. Below is a discussion of the steps that you can take it to ensure that your recovery is as fast and smooth as possible. This revolves around three areas. These are:
- Pain management
- Diet guidelines
- Physical and other activities
5 Steps to a Smooth Post-Bariatric Surgery Recovery
1. Anticipate and Plan on How to Tackle Pain
Although pain medication may be prescribed, you may still feel uncomfortable. Do not suffer in silence since pain tolerance is different among individuals. Talk to your doctor or nurse about what you are feeling and they will be able to help manage any pain or discomfort that you feel. It is also vital for early identification of post-surgery complications. Thankfully, these are very rare.
2. Identify Positions That Make You Comfortable
Avoid positions that increase your discomfort and pain. Your doctor can suggest positions that may offer you better comfort while you are recovering from the surgery. However, avoid remaining in the same position for extended periods of time as this can compromise good circulation which can in turn cause complications in recovery.
3. Engage in Early Post-Surgery Exercises
Exercising after surgery needs to be slow and gradual, but will aid recovery if performed correctly. You should not perform any exercise that causes you pain or great discomfort. Early mobilization after the surgery is a good way to exercise your feet. This helps in the prevention of blood clots in the vessels. Later, more strenuous exercises can be performed as guided by your doctor. This helps to improve overall blood circulation and facilitates faster wound healing, as well as aiding in your overall recovery.
4. Breathe for Better Recovery
Breathing exercises are an important part of general exercises that help you to recover quickly. Your nurse or physical therapist will teach you how to breathe properly in a way that expands your lungs fully. This is an effective way of preventing pneumonia due to poor lung expansion and accumulation of sputum.
Coughing can be distressing after bariatric or any other abdominal surgery. Your doctor will show you how to cough from your abdomen and not from your throat. To minimize abdominal discomfort, hold a soft cushion or pillow to your abdomen as you cough.
5. Eat Well
Nutritional needs may change after bariatric surgery. Nutritional supplements, especially vitamins, may be needed for a lifetime. The initial diet after the surgery may be liquid. This diet may be changed gradually to a semi-solid diet and finally to a normal diet. Always chew your food thoroughly and eat small, but nutritious meals. Drink adequate fluids between meals to facilitate good digestion and for overall body hydration. Look out for the following symptoms, and if they are disturbing and persistent report them to your doctor:
- Excessive flatulence
- Persistent nausea
- Abdominal distension
- Incision-site oozing blood or pus
Bariatric surgery is the beginning of a lifetime commitment but is often the beginning of a new life for people who have struggled with obesity all of their life. Learn everything you can about possible changes that might occur in your body. This might include changes in your hair. Your doctor is a good source of reliable information. You can also learn a lot from authoritative sources online and offline.
To read more on my gastric bypass series please visit my Gastric Bypass category here on the blog.
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