Top Ten Tips Before and After Lap Band Surgery
By Kirsty at RealSelf on 20 Mar 2012
Lap band surgery is a flexible, surgical solution to lose weight. This type of surgery is completely adjustable, reversible and less invasive than other surgeries such as a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy. Rather than a permanent solution, the band can be adjusted to ensure you both lose weight and get the right amount of nutrition in your daily diet.
The following are some ways that you can prepare yourself pre- and post-lap band surgery.
1. Educate yourself. Be sure you know exactly what the surgeon is going to do and what to expect before you go into the surgery. Be aware how the fills work, what your downtime will be and what you will need to do both mentally and physically to make weight loss a success. Knowledge can help your recovery.
2. Make sure your family and others know what to expect. Preparing your children or spouse with what to expect post-surgery is important, rather than just having them react. You will need a support system and your immediate family will be the most important support to you. Make sure they are aware of what your needs will be regarding food, exercise and motivation.
3. Have a supply of foods that you will need in the days/weeks immediately after surgery. These will include clear liquids, broths and soups, sugar-free Popsicles and skim milk. Your diet will be very restricted for the first few weeks and you will need a good supply of these sugar-free, low-calories food and drinks.
4. Lean out your diet. By preparing for the surgery and your food intake prior to surgery, you will get your body ready for eating a reduced volume of food and lower calorie diet, and also get your body completely ready for the recovery stage.
5. Plan to have help. Having people around to help you do small things such as bathing, light cleaning and laundry are very necessary in the beginning stages. It will take some time to heal. Plan now to have someone with you during this time.
6. Buy appropriate medical supplies. You will need to have bandages to redress the wounds made from the incisions during your surgery. Have some over-the-counter pain medication available too.
7. Purchase vitamins and supplements. You will find it difficult to get a full meal's worth of nutrition at the start; supplements will help. Although lap band surgery does not restrict how much nutrition is absorbed from the food you eat, the reduced volume of food may leave you with a vitamin deficiency. Your doctor will be able to help you decide what vitamins you need.
8. Liquid diet. For approximately 4-7 days (it varies from doctor to doctor) you will be placed on a liquid diet that is designed to reduce the size of your liver, making surgery safer. Some doctors will give you a box of protein powders and liquid foods to consume, others will give you a list of what you can and cannot eat. This is a very important step and you must not eat other foods while on this diet. If the liver is too large then the surgeon may stop the surgery because of the risks.
9. Find recipes. One of the hardest things to do is cook for you and your family after weight loss surgery; doing the research ahead of time helps out. Once you have some weight loss surgery-friendly recipes you can even cook and freeze them into individual portions. This will help greatly the first few weeks after surgery.
10. Prepare yourself mentally. This is a hard, life-changing process and it is not an easy fix. Your body may refuse foods that you once loved, you will not be eating the fatty foods that you did in the past, and you are going to be working hard, counting calories, protein and carbs almost daily (as well as exercising). Your doctor may insist you have a psychological evaluation first and it is always a good idea to join a support group like RealSelf too. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone and you are making these changes in order to improve your quality of life.
1. Stick to your surgeon's instructions. Do not return to work until they say you can, start exercising when they tell you to and eat/drink what they recommend to the time scales they set. They're good at what they do and only have your best interests in mind.
2. Have a good support group. Make sure you aren’t recovering alone -- Call for help if you need it. Your doctor may know of a local support group or you could join an online forum, such as RealSelf, to talk to people in your exact situation. It's also important that you have support at home from your immediate family.
3. Avoid sugars, fats, alcohol and soda. These will just give you empty calories and upset your stomach. Unlike a gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy, you are unlikely to experience dumping syndrome with these foods. However, they will halt your weight gain and most likely cause you to re-gain the weight you're working so hard to lose.
4. Exercise. Simply trusting the band to reduce the size of your stomach and caloric intake is not enough to lose weight. Exercising as soon as possible will ramp up your weight loss and help you recover quickly.
5. Adjust your eating habits. Just because it's meal time doesn’t mean that you should eat right away. Only eat if you feel the need to eat; your stomach will need time to adjust to the band. Your band will tell you when you are full or when a certain food doesn't agree with you any more. Learn to listen to your body.
6. Keep an eye on your body. If you find anything that you may feel to be out of the ordinary like a fever, bleeding or excessive pain, call your surgeon immediately. Although lap band surgery is quite safe, there can always be complications -- The band may be over-filled, or it may have slipped. You should get this looked at right away.
7. Stay hydrated -- Drink between 1.5 to 2 litres of water each day. Sometimes lots of water can fill up your stomach, which is now limited in size, so in order to get proper nutrients you shouldn't drink for approximately 40 minutes before each meal and 20-30 minutes after.
8. Always go to your follow up appointments. Doctors are able to track your process and see if you're healing correctly post op. Your doctor will also be able to help you change your eating or exercise habits if your weight loss is beginning to plateau and they will generally keep you on track.
9. Bowel movements. You may find that for the first few days (or even weeks) you don't have regular, if any, bowel movements. This is because you are eating far less food than normal and for the first few days or weeks you will be on a mainly liquid diet, which doesn't allow for fiber-rich foods. This can be very uncomfortable, especially if it goes on for a while. Make sure you drink lots of water. You may also benefit from taking a stool softener in the early stages and then when you're onto solid foods you may need to incorporate something like prunes into your diet.
10. Stay positive. If you re-gain some weight then you obviously need to make a change somewhere. However, it doesn't mean that all your progress has been wasted. Speak to your doctor or your support group. Write down everything you eat and drink for one week and look back over it to see if you have begun to incorporate fatty or high calorie foods into your diet. Look at your exercise levels to see if they have dropped or need to be increased. There is always a way to get you back on track.
By following these tips you will set yourself up to have a great lap band surgery, a speedy recovery time and a great post-lap band life ahead of you.