With gastric bypass recovery — or any bariatric surgery recovery, really — there are inevitable questions that arise post-op. For example, what is the typical bariatric surgery recovery time? When can I go back to work?

These are good and important questions. Every situation is different because every patient is different. So what may be the recommended course of action regarding these matters is going to differ from one person to the next — and one job to the next.

As with any surgery, there is a concern about how long it will take to get back to normal activities. It could be returning to the gym, walking the dog, or just playing with the kids. (And, of course, when can the patient get back to work? Any amount of missed work could be a concern or cause for worry with the patient.)

There are a few factors that come into play when deciding to go back to work after bariatric surgery. The type of surgery, the type of work one does, and how the patient is feeling after the procedure are three big factors that one must consider when approaching these questions.

Having gastric bypass surgery, or any bariatric surgery, is an important decision and all aspects need to be considered. Which is why we’re here!

At WeightWise, our years of experience have provided us with some good baselines by which to measure, assess, and questions such as those posed above.

So what about bariatric surgery recovery? How long will it take, anyway? When can a patient return to work and start an exercise regimen?

Let’s explore.

Surgery Options

One thing to consider is what kind of procedure you’re having: open or laparoscopic surgery? 

Open surgery consists of one large incision and takes much longer to heal than a laparoscopic procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery consists of five or six smaller incisions around the abdomen and is used for the vast majority of WeightWise patients.

Many weight-loss surgeries reroute intestines or wall off part of the stomach. Others create a small pouch for solid foods and liquids. Regardless of procedure (sleeve gastrectomy, gastric balloon, gastric bypass, etc.), you will need to adhere to your doctor’s instructions. This is especially true for older adults.

Initial Time Off

While most procedures can be completed in a few hours, we recommend staying off your feet for the rest of the day. Although complications aren’t anticipated, we want to be able to monitor our patients for at least 24 hours after the gastric bypass has been performed.

Many of our patients come from out of town, including Dallas, Little Rock, or elsewhere around Oklahoma. If that’s the case, then expect to miss a few days for travel, both before the surgery and after. 

Physical Activity Immediately After Gastric Bypass Surgery

When done laparoscopically, many of our patients can take easy, small walks shortly after the surgery. But every patient is different; our doctors will let you know what activity is safe for the first day or two. But for the first 24-48 hours, it’s a good idea to take it easy and go on a casual when you can.

After observing patients for two days doctors will give the go-ahead to resume everyday operations. Driving, going grocery shopping, or taking a stroll shouldn’t be an issue for most patients. For such a life-altering procedure, the recovery time from gastric bypass surgery is relatively fast.

As we repeatedly advise, however, check with your doctor before starting any strength training regimens, aerobic activity or aerobic exercises of even moderate intensity, or any of your other regular exercise activities.

We well understand the need for any type of exercise that gets that heart rate pumping. We also know the health benefits of exercise (weight maintenance, improved mood, lower blood pressure, reduction of sleep apnea occurrences, etc.). But there will be plenty of time for that. For now, focus on recovery.

Returning To Work After Gastric Bypass Surgery

Just like anything, going back to work depends on what kind of work it is. For example, working at a computer all day or otherwise sitting for long stretches is much different than working at a construction site. All of this will be taken into consideration by the doctors.

How much time you take off  after the procedure before a return to the office or job site is up to you. We’ve found that getting back to work can help maintaining movement. If you do choose to take time off, we encourage you to start gentle physical activity almost immediately. But we want to make sure you’re not in any discomfort before heading back for good.

If you want to take time off but can’t be away from the office for long, consider a part-time schedule at the start or even working from home if that’s an option. Some patients will feel lethargic in the following days, and we certainly don’t want you feeling overworked or stressed during this time.

Even if your job requires manual labor, there are few limitations after surgery. Since WeightWise utilizes laparoscopic procedures, there are no lifting restrictions placed on our patients. You can return to normal lifting and work routines as you feel comfortable. Keep in mind that you might fatigue faster due to the liquid diet and surgery recovery, so make your fluids and taking breaks a priority if you return to work quickly.

In many cases, our patients won’t miss much time at all after surgery. Depending on their benefits, they can use sick time/leave or even vacation time. If not, consult with our patient advocates for steps that can be taken to lessen the amount of time missed.

For many of our patients, gastric bypass surgery is life-saving. Weight-loss surgery has been shown to improve or even resolve certain heart conditions, some forms of diabetes, and even decrease death from different types of cancer. Lessening pain in the hips, knees, neck, and other joints are also beneficial side benefits.

Being able to work is very important for many patients, but so is extending their life expectancy. The entire Weightwise staff wants nothing but the best for you. We invite you to attend one of our seminars or watch an online seminar to see just how much gastric bypass surgery has helped our patients. Contact us today to find out how we can help you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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