Weight Loss Surgery FAQs

Before you have obesity surgery, your surgeon will first determine the things you need to do and explain them to you.  However, the following are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about procedures and tests that you might be asked to have done as part of preparing for surgery.

What tests do I need before weight loss surgery?

There are some routine tests that tend to be done before surgery.  These include a Biochemistry Analysis (provides a readout of approximately 20 blood chemistry values), Urinalysis and Full Blood Count.  A Glucose Tolerance test is frequently done to test for diabetes, since it is a very common occurrence in individuals who are overweight.  Patients might need to have an electrocardiogram and X-ray.  Many surgeons will request a gallbladder ultrasound in order to search for gallstones.  Some of the other tests that might be requested include psychiatric evaluation, cardiology evaluation, gastrointestinal evaluation, sleep studies, echocardiogram and pulmonary function testing.

Why are all of these tests performed?

Your health needs to be accurately assessed prior to surgery in order to minimise complications from occurring.  Your surgeon will determine which tests are necessary to make these assessments.

Why is it necessary for me to get a Gastrointestinal Evaluation?

Patients with significant gastrointestinal symptoms like belching sour fluid, heartburn and upper abdominal pain might have underlying problems like peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux or a hiatal hernia.

Why is a Sleep Study necessary?

A sleep study can detect the tendency for an abnormal stopping of breathing.  This is usually associated with airways getting blocked as your muscles relax while you are sleeping.  A high mortality rate is associated with this condition.  You are sedated following surgery and will be receiving narcotics for pain.  This further depresses regular reflexes and breathing.  At this time, airway blockage is more dangerous.  Having a clear picture of what you can expect and how it needs to be handled is very important.

How do my other medical problems affect my surgery and what impact do they have on making my decision on whether to have obesity surgery or not?

Certain medical problems, like serious lung or heart problems, can increase any surgery’s risk.  However, if these problems relate to a patient’s weight, it also increases the necessity for surgery.  Having serious medical problems might not discourage a surgeon from recommending that a patient have obesity surgery if appropriate otherwise.  However, the condition will cause the patient to have higher than average risk.

Before my appointment what things can I do to help speed the process up of preparing for obesity surgery?

If you don’t have a general practitioner already, choose one and establish a relationship.  Work together with your doctor to make sure that all of your regular health maintenance testing is up to date.  For instance, a woman might have a pap smear and also a breast exam if she is over the age of 40.  Men would have a prostate specific antigen test (PSA).

  • Compile a list of every diet you have attempted (diet history) and give it to your doctor.
  • When you meet with your bariatric surgeon, bring in any relevant medical data, including a hospital discharge summary if you’ve been hospitalized and reports of any special tests that you have had (sleep study, echocardiogram, etc.).
  • Bring in a list of all of the medications you take, along with your schedule and doses.

Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery FAQs

Is the risk decreased by Laparoscopic Surgery?

No.  The same risk is carried by Laparoscopic operations as procedures that are performed as open operations.  The benefits provided by laparoscopic surgery typically includes reduced scarring, being able to return to work earlier, shorter hospital stay and less discomfort.

Will I experience a high level of pain?

Every effort is made to control your pain following surgery so that you can start moving around as quickly as possible and start to become active again.  That helps to speed recovery and avoid problems.  Several drugs are often used together in order to help manage post-surgery pain.  A Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) might be utilized by your doctor while you are in the hospital still.  This enables you to give yourself a pain medicine dose on demand.  There are different types of pain control methods that are available, depending on what kind of surgical procedure you have.  Speak with your surgeon about other potential options for pain management.

How long will I be in the hospital?

You will need to stay as long as it takes for you to be self-sufficient again.  It can vary, however hospital stays (which includes the day of the surgery) usually ranges from 1 to 8 days, depending on what procedure is performed.

Will a drain be left in by the doctor following laparoscopic surgery?

The patient might have a small tube so that any accumulated fluids in the abdomen can drain.  Whether it is needed or not will depend on the procedure that is performed.  It is a safety measure.  Usually it is removed a couple days following obesity surgery.  In general, it doesn’t cause anything more than some minor discomfort for the patient.

What can I expect while in the recovery room following laparoscopic bariatric surgery?

Some doctors provide a pain management system that is self-administered or a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) to help with controlling pain.  Other surgeons prefer utilising an infusion pump to deliver a local anaesthetic into the surgical site for controlling pain without producing any side effects from narcotics.

How long will it be before I can walk again?

You will be required by your doctor to get up and start moving around almost immediately after having surgery.  On the night of their surgery patients are requested to stand or walk at their bedside, and over the next few days to take several walks.  Once you have left the hospital, you might be able to take care of all of your personal needs, however you will need assistance with transportation, lifting and shopping.

When will I be able to drive again?

For your personal safety, you shouldn’t drive until you are not taking narcotic medications any more and are able to move alertly and quickly to stop a vehicle, especially in the case of an emergency.  This usually takes 7 to 14 days following surgery.

Hospital Stay

What steps are taken in order to minimise the risk of developing pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)?
The operating table is where Deep Vein Thrombosis first originates.  Therefore, therapy starts prior to a patient going into the operating room.  Usually patients are provided with a blood thinner and given sequential leg compression stockings before surgery.  These therapies are both continued throughout your hospital stay.  A third preventative measure that is used is to get the patient out of bed and moving as soon as possible following the operation so that normal flood flow is restored in the legs.

What items should I take to the hospital with me?

Clothing and basic toiletries (toothbrush, comb, etc.) might be furnished by the hospital.  However, most individuals prefer bringing their own.  Take clothes that will be easy for you to take off and put on.  Due to your incision, your clothing might become stained with either blood or other types of body fluids.  Other things you might want to bring include:

  • bathrobe
  • personal toiletries
  • crossword puzzles
  • writing and reading materials