10 Tips for Before and After Lap Band Surgery
- Last updated: 3 months ago
Sometimes diet and exercise just aren’t enough. If that’s the case, weight loss surgery might be the solution or at least part of a solution. Gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgeries are effective, but highly invasive procedures. Lap band surgery is a more flexible, less invasive surgical option.
A lap band can be adjusted to ensure you lose weight and get the right amount of nutrition in your daily diet. We relied on the expertise of the RealSelf doctor community and the experience of RealSelf members to help provide some insight and tips into your lap band before and after surgery process.
1. Set expectations.
Be sure you know exactly what the surgeon is going to do before the surgery. Be aware how the fills work, what your downtime will be, and what you'll need to do both mentally and physically to make weight loss a success. This means a thorough consultation process where you discuss the procedure with your doctor and get a firm understanding of the potential results.
2. Establish a support system to help with post-op care.
You'll need a support system and your immediate family will likely be the most important support to you. Make sure they're aware of what your needs will be regarding food, exercise, and care.
3. Stock up on food for your post-op diet.
These will include clear liquids, broths, soups, sugar-free popsicles, and skim milk. Your diet will be very restricted for the first few weeks, and you'll need a good supply of these low-calorie, sugar-free food and drinks.
Ask your doctor for diet guidelines or a diet plan to ensure know what you should and should not be eating after surgery.
4. Start your diet before surgery.
By reducing your food intake prior to surgery, you'll get your body ready for eating a smaller volume of food and a lower calorie diet. Eating at a slower pace, and eating smaller portions will likely take some adjustment. Getting used to it before surgery can only help with your success after surgery.
5. Plan to have help.
Having people around to help you do small things such as bathing, light cleaning, and laundry will be very helpful. It will take some time to heal. Plan to have someone with you so you can properly rest and recover.
6. Schedule ample time to recover.
The actual procedure can take as little as 30 minutes, but you will need several days to recover in the following days. That means scheduling your surgery at a time where you can also have a break from work, and plenty of time set aside for recovery.
“Patients can usually return to work within seven days of lap band surgery,” said Dr. Shawn Garber, a bariatric surgeon in Long Island, N.Y., in a RealSelf Q&A. “The only restriction is no heavy lifting for about four to six weeks.”
7. Purchase vitamins and supplements.
Getting all the nutrition you need strictly from food will likely be a challenge at first. Although lap band surgery doesn't 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. Start your liquid diet.
For approximately four to seven days before surgery (it varies from doctor to doctor), you'll likely 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, while 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, the surgeon may stop the procedure because of the risks.
9. Find healthy recipes you love.
Adjusting the way you cook after weight loss surgery is an adjustment. Doing the research ahead of time helps. Once you have some weight loss surgery-friendly recipes, you can cook and freeze them into individual portions. This will help greatly the first few weeks after surgery.
10. Mentally prepare yourself.
This is a hard, life-changing process, and not an easy fix. Your body may refuse foods you once loved. You won't eat fatty foods. You're going to be working hard, counting calories, protein, and carbs daily. Your doctor may insist you have a psychological evaluation first. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and you're making these changes to improve your quality of life.
1. Follow your surgeon's instructions.
Your doctor will give you guidelines to follow after surgery. When you can return to work. When you can exercise. What you can eat. It’s very important to follow the guidelines to reduce your recovery and improve your results.
2. Monitor your band for slippage.
If you’re experiencing pain, reflux, or having trouble tolerating foods at a level you were previously able to, you might be having issues with your band. If you experience these issues, make an appointment with your doctor to be evaluated. It’s important to not simply ignore signs of trouble.
“A band can slip at any time but more commonly several months after the operation and following a period of weight loss,” said Dr. Ricardo Bonnor, a Houston general surgeon, in a RealSelf Q&A. “A minor slippage can usually be taken care of by removing fluid from the band, a slip that lasts for a long time or a major slippage that causes severe pain may require a re-operation.”
3. Avoid sugars, fats, alcohol, and soda.
These empty calories won’t benefit you and can 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 loss and most likely cause you to regain the weight you're working so hard to lose.
4. Exercise regularly.
Simply trusting the band to reduce your calorie intake is not enough to lose weight. Exercising as soon as your doctor allows will ramp up your weight loss and help you recover quickly.
5. Adjust your eating habits.
Only eat if you feel the need to eat. Your band will tell you when you're full or when a certain food doesn't agree with you any more. Learn to listen to your body. It’s hard to break bad habits, but doing so will help you achieve the best possible result.
“Without exercise and good nutrition the lap band does not work,” RealSelf Q&A. “Lap band is not meant to control hunger but designed to control portions.”said in a
6. Keep an eye on your body.
If you find anything that feels 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 roughly six to eight cups of water each day. A lot 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 to 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. 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'll generally keep you on track.
Related: 8 Myths About Weight Loss Surgery.
9. Your bowel movements will be different.
You may find you don't have regular bowel movements for the first few days, or even weeks, after surgery. This is because you are eating far less food than normal.
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.
10. Stay positive.
If you regain some weight, then you need to make a change in your process. However, it doesn't mean all your progress has been wasted. Speak to your doctor or your support group. Write down everything you eat and drink for a week and look back over it to see if you've begun to incorporate fatty or high-calorie foods into your diet. Look at your exercise levels to see if they've dropped or need to be increased.
Remember, there's always a way to get back on track.
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