Many people considering treatment, especially invasive treatments like Gastric Bypass Surgery become scared by the recovery time, and in many cases, cannot even find accessible information regarding the timeline and process, which just adds to the stress of deciding whether to go through with the treatment or not. If you have been wondering what your recovery time and process would look like, this is the perfect guide for you!

While the recovery process is important, one should keep in mind that some elements of recovery will be lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise, supplements, and medication. However, the total immediate recovery time following the surgery is between 3-6 weeks including hospital and at-home stages, with the exact time within that range generally depending on the individual.

To simplify, on average your hospital recovery will take 2-3 days, with the rest of the time being spent on at-home recovery. Of course, hospital recovery may vary slightly depending on your history.


Hospital-Stay Recovery


At the hospital, you will likely spend 2-3 days, or possibly longer depending on an individual basis. During this time, your recovery will rely on medication, wound care, and the beginning of exercise and diet changes. Your initial hospital recovery will set the foundation for short-term recovery, as well as the long-term lifestyle changes you will have to make. Here’s what to expect from each aspect.


Medications

At the hospital you will likely be given medications for your short-term recovery as well as the establishment of your long-term medication plan. These medications include.

Pain medications are one that likely comes as no surprise. Initially you will be given IV medication on an as needed basis for your pain. These pain medications are generally strong painkillers like oxycodone and similar opioids rather than NSAIDs like Ibuprofen, as the latter are not advised for health reasons. Once it has been confirmed that you can tolerate a liquid diet, you will likely be switched over to rapid-release liquid medications. These are short-term medications that will not be given for a lifetime.

Vitamins and supplements are started at the hospital, and will be used in the long-term to prevent vitamin and nutritional deficiencies that can be caused by the decreased absorption capacity of your digestive system.

Blood clot prevention medications are given short-term at the hospital, and sometimes for an additional ~2 weeks at home to prevent the development of venous thromboembolism, which Gastric Bypass Surgery patients are at high risk of developing.

Wound Care

As the treatment is an invasive surgery, your nurse will take care of the incisions, change your bandages/dressing, and watch for an infection. They will also teach you to care and watch for signs of an infection so you can continue to care for you wounds once you are at home. You can write down or ask your nurse to write down the instructions if you like.


Diet

Shortly after your surgery, you will begin a clear liquid diet, if you tolerate the clear liquid diets well, your surgeon will likely move to a full liquid diet shortly. Some hospitals may not have great full liquid options, so you may bring protein shakes with you, but only consume them if they are approved by your surgeon.

As your body recovers, your diet will advance through different phases.

Phase 1 is the previously mentioned full liquid diet, consisting oh high protein liquids. This lasts about two weeks.

Phase 2 adds real foods, however they are not to be solid. You will be eating pureed foods for another two weeks.

Phase 3 moves onto soft foods, like fruits and vegetables (but only soft ones!), this phase is longer at 12 weeks.

Phase 4 is the final phase, where you can now eat a normal foods at small portions.


Exercise


You will begin light exercise usually on the day of your surgery, and will have to keep performing them consistently throughout your life. Usually, your nurse will suggest to begin walking exercises 4-6 hours following your surgery, though you can suggest to start earlier or a bit later if you like. Strength exercises are very important as well, and it is beneficial to request a physical therapist at the hospital to help you build and maintain your strength.

You will also perform breathing exercises to prevent pulmonary complications, these exercises are generally based on deep breathing and to help clear any excess obstructive secretions in your airway (such as mucous).

Discharge

Once your surgeon discharges you from the hospital, you will be given a list and review of the instructions previously provided by your nurse regarding wound care, diet, exercises, medication, etc, and any check-ups needed will be arranged then. If it is easier for you and not already provided, you can ask your nurse to provide written or printed instructions.

What can you expect in terms of weight-loss?

Within a 1-3 month period, you will likely lose around 9 kilograms, most of which will be in the first month. Though similar to how weight loss in general tends to occur, you will eventually start to lose around 0.5-1.0 kg a month.

Check-up Appointments

Initially you will have several appointments scheduled with your surgeon, usually starting a few days following your discharge, make sure to attend them! After the first appointments, your appointments will generally be more spaced out, usually once every 3 months. Though this varies on an individual basis.

Conclusion

A full recovery can take around a total of 6-12 weeks depending on the case, however a good metric is when you can begin eating regular foods again, or the fourth phase of your diet, which usually takes a little over 12 weeks following your discharge.

It is required that you take a minimum of 2-4 weeks off from work and strenuous activity.

The individual timeline can vary of course, but the above is a rough estimate that includes the case for most patients. After 3 months, you can expect to have made a full recovery.