The First Weeks After Weight Loss Surgery

What Happens After I'm Discharged from Mount Sinai?
You will usually be discharged from Mount Sinai Hospital after 1 to 3 nights in the hospital, depending on the type of operation you've had. Your doctor will give you a prescription for pain medication before your discharge. Most people crush their pills to make them easier to swallow during this time, and take them with a dollop of yogurt or applesauce. If you are taking other medications (e.g. for blood pressure, depression, etc.) please check with your doctor about when you should resume taking them. You will remain on a diet of liquids, pureed foods and a few soft solids until you are seen for your first postoperative appointment, roughly 3 weeks after your operation.

FAQ Q. What medications will I be taking once I am discharged from the hospital?

A. If you were taking any medication prior to surgery, you will probably resume these unless they may irritate your stomach (like aspirin or ibuprofen). In addition to a prescription pain medication, you may be advised to take one or more of the following, depending on which operation you had:

  • A chewable multivitamin tablet, such as Flintstone's or Centrum chewables, twice a day.
  • A chewable calcium tablet, like TUMS or Viactiv, twice a day.
  • A protein shake is optional, but may be very useful to help you achieve your protein requirement during this period of early healing.

Do I Have Stitches that Need to Come Out?
Your incisions will be covered with small paper bandages called "Steri-Strips." Most patients will not have any stitches or staples on their skin; the stitches are internal and will absorb on their own. It is OK for you to shower starting on the second day after surgery, but do not take any baths or go swimming, as your incisions are not yet fully healed. The steri-strips will start to curl up around the edges about a week or two after surgery -- when they do, it's fine to remove them, just like you would a band-aid.

What Types of Physical Activity are OK?
You should feel free to try any physical activity that feels comfortable to you. It is OK to lift about 15 pounds -- roughly 1 bag of groceries -- but not much more. It is certainly OK to walk, climb stairs, stretch, and even jog, if you feel up to it. You should definitely avoid any contact sports at this time.

It is not OK to drive a car until you have been off all narcotic pain medication for several days! When you do resume driving, start with slow, easy trips around the neighborhood -- definitely avoid the freeway for now!

How Long Do I Need to Take Off From Work?
Most patients take 3 or 4 weeks off from work, although some highly motivated patients go back after just 1 or 2 weeks. Once you are a week or more out from your surgery, there is no medical reason why you cannot resume work activities, so long as your job does not require strenuous physical activity. The main determinant of your readiness to return to work is how you feel.

How Do I Set Up My First Follow Up Visit?
You need to call your doctor to set up an appointment to be seen about 3 weeks or so after your operation. At this visit, your surgeon will carefully examine your incisions to see if they have healed well. If so, you will be given a clean "bill of health" and will be able to resume all activities including bathing, swimming, and all exercises.

Depending on which operation you have had, you may be given prescriptions for a special iron pill (Niferex Forte 150) and -- if you still have your gallbladder -- a medicine called ursodiol (Actigall) which reduces the risk of developing gallstones during rapid weight loss.

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