Every weight loss surgeon has a different way of closing the wound, and every wound is a bit different. Whether you had laparoscopic bypass or open, somewhere you have a little reminder that someone went inside of you and rearranged a few guts. The weight loss surgeon may have closed your skin with sutures that will dissolve, or he may have used a fibrin sealant (our version of superglue), or staples. There are a lot of ways to close a wound, but no matter which one your weight loss surgeon used, taking care of it is easy.
After 48 hours you can wash it with soap and water—in fact we want you to wash it. Pat the wound dry and allow air to come in contact with it. Do not put neosporin, or other ointments on it unless otherwise directed. If you have staples and they are catching on clothes, then put a gauze over them.
The incentive spirometer
—Suck, don’t blow
Many weight loss surgeons, or nurses, will give you this cute little device that has a mouthpiece attached to a bubble. The deeper breath you take the higher the bubble goes. The idea of this is to encourage you to take slow, deep breaths. If you don’t take slow deep breaths your lungs will not become expanded, and can fill up with some fluid causing a fever. If the fluid becomes infected you can develop pneumonia—and the last thing you want is to have to cough with a fresh incision. If you don’t get an incentive spirometer, ask for one. They are a great device and even before a bariatric operation you can test yourself—which will give you a goal to reach after the operation. How often should you suck on this device—anytime there is a commercial on television, suck it up. Bariatric patients when they first see the device think that it is to blow in, and that will do nothing, but tire you out.
After weight loss surgery walk, walk some more
—Do the Olympic Nurse Station Triathlon
There is no secret to getting better in the hospital—the answer is simple — you walk.Walking will do a lot of things for you. First it will make you feel better. Second, it is the best thing that you can do to prevent pulmonary embolus— so when you don’t feel like walking… Third, the more you walk the less drugs you will need. We don’t know why this is, but the more a bariatric patient gets up and around the less they need pain killers, and the better they feel. Finally, your guts recover quicker.
I don’t know if I have heard every excuse to not walk after a bariatric operation, but I am sure there will be a few more. The nurse, or some staff member will help you up the first time and after that—it is up to you. How much and how far? Simple, you start walking, and you stop when the nurses tell you that you are making them dizzy.
Every now and then there are exceptions to this, but the best way to get out of the hospital with as few problems as you can expect is to walk. Oh the triathlon—one lap around the nurses station, followed by a shower, then some quality breaths with your incentive spirometer!