—Did you get the number of that Mac Truck?

Woman in hospital bed recuperating from weight loss surgeryThe first postoperative day is usually the toughest in the hospital. The day of weight loss surgery you might take a few laps around the nurse’s station, but mostly you will do a lot of sleeping. This is when you will wonder why on earth you did this, or to quote about a thousand of my weight loss surgery patients, “this is all going to be worth it, right?”

Different weight loss surgeons have different protocols for the first day after a procedure but no matter how you spend that first day, you will wonder what hit you. The good news is that by the end of the week that Mac truck will feel like a small Toyota pickup. Naturally, I use that analogy a lot. One of my patients was hit by a Toyota—and she agreed with me.

Some weight loss surgeons order a swallow study to rule out any leaks from the procedure, and if that is clear, they will start to remove some of the tubes and allow you to begin drinking fluids. Other bariatric surgeons will start you on fluids. You will get through this and every day in the hospital will be a bit better. The best thing is when some tubes start coming out.

To the Showers

shower head flowing water—a little soap and water will make you feel better

There is nothing wrong with taking a shower—in fact there is a lot right with it. Your wound can take a little soap and water about 48 hours after weight loss surgery, and your bariatric surgeon will no doubt want you up and moving. Your nurse may wish to have you wrap up your intravenous line, or do some other fancy stuff, but you should be wanting a shower. There are a lot of great reasons to have a shower: (a) you will feel better (b) washing off your skin will decrease the bacteria count and make it less likely to have a wound infection (c) your roommate will like you more. DO NOT drink the water in the shower—your nurses need to keep count of all the fluids you take in by mouth, so don’t fool them with this trick.

What is this stuff painted on me?

The prep solution we use for the abdomen is probably still lingering. I use DuraPrep®, which is fast acting and kills a lot of the skin bacteria. However, this solution stays on the skin and kills bacteria for up to 12 hours. It can’t be scrubbed off with soap and water but there is a product that will remove it. Some weight loss doctors use iodine solutions that come off easily with soap and water.

Again, your first shower should be a fun time where you simply let the water run over your abdomen. Enjoy looking at that belly, because you will see less of it as time goes by. I belong to a country club, and I was asked to come see the manager of the club. I was wondering what on earth I had done, when he asked if I would write a note for a member. Apparently, a member had an operation on his knee, and the Betadyne® solution came off in the shower. Someone who was in the downstream area saw the iodine in the water and turned the fellow in for peeing in the shower (see, and you thought you bought this book just to learn about weight loss surgery). The fellow is still a member, and he didn’t get a nasty letter from the club.