Pre- and post-op gastric band weight loss surgery care

Posted on the 27 February 2012 at 12:15

If you’re considering embarking on a weight loss journey, or have tried every diet, fad and exercise routine you possibly could, there’s nothing wrong with getting a bit of help. Procedures like the gastric band have helped many overweight and obese patients transform their bodies and increase their overall quality of life.

Getting a gastric band fitted helps you reduce the amount of food that you are able to take in. However, don’t think it is that easy! A gastric band is only part of the weight loss plan; as a gastric band patient you will still need the drive to become healthier, by remaining physically active and making the right food choices. If you’re ready to take the first step, keep reading to find out what you can expect both before and after your gastric band fitting.

Leading up to the operation

There is sure to be a huge checklist of things you need to do before the procedure. One key point to remember though is that a gastric band operation is unique in that the requirement of a change in mind-set before it happens. This is the first step of a lifelong journey, changing how you think about food and how you nourish your body. One of the most important supports to have in place before your operation is a friendly and helpful medical team and a group of supportive family and friends.

Once you have a support system, it’s time to get down to the “nuts and bolts” of the gastric band procedure. If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking several months before your scheduled procedure. You may also wish to meet with your doctor several times before the procedure so that he or she can monitor your physical condition and reconfirm that you are an excellent candidate for the procedure. You will also want to take this time to ask any lingering questions and make a list of reminders for both pre- and post-op.

The week before

It’s about as important to go to the supermarket, as well as the doctor, before the procedure. A day or two before you get your gastric band; you’ll want to make a list of approved foods for your recovery. The band will drastically change the type of foods that you are able to eat as well as how much of it you are able to eat. Most patients have a clear liquid-only diet immediately after the procedure, followed by more sustaining liquids such as soups, puréed foods and smoothies. Finally, a patient may incorporate soft foods after several weeks. Because making such a sudden change to your diet already carries with it a certain amount of stress, you can make your transition much easier by having these kinds of foods on hand before you begin your recovery.

Another step you can take to make your transition easier is to begin reducing the amount of food you eat beforehand and to adapt a diet that is low in fat and sugar and high in nutrients. This will help you get used to eating four to five small meals each day as well as cleanse your body, which will make your gastric band procedure easier.

The day before

The day before your procedure, make sure to set up a recovery area in your home where you can rest and have all of the things you need close by. Place medicines by the bed, and find some items to help you pass the time, books, DVDs and magazines are ideal. You may also want to place comfortable, loose-fitting pyjamas close to your bed so that you won’t have to search for them later.
The night before your operation, you should begin fasting at midnight, at the latest.

After the operation

Once a gastric band is fitted, the typical recovery time is several weeks. During this phase, you will have to pay even closer attention to what you eat because your stomach is still adjusting to the device. However, most gastric band patients can start eating regular food after a month or so.

Once you get into a steady routine with eating and exercising, your doctor may recommend adjusting your band periodically so that you can continue to restrict how much food you take in on a daily basis. These band adjustments are straightforward, so they can usually be done during a regular check-up.

Beyond all of the technical changes, however, you will experience a new way of thinking about food. The most difficult adjustment of all for gastric band patients is paying attention to the feeling that they get when they become full. This is because the sensation will hit much earlier in a meal than before, and your stomach can only hold as little as a quarter cup of food at a time. Most doctors make additional recommendations, such as not eating and drinking simultaneously and making sure not to eat or drink too late in the evening so that your digestion doesn’t disturb your sleeping pattern.

Results for the gastric band may come more slowly than other kinds of weight loss procedures, but this process can be beneficial in helping your body adjust to your new shape. Most patients see the majority of their excess weight come off during the first two years post-operation care. However, the gastric band alone usually cannot help a person shed all of his or her excess weight, which is why it is important to exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.

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