Living with Lap Band

Lap band surgery won’t just affect your weight. There are many changes you’ll experience in the days, weeks, months and years following your weight loss surgery. Dr. Choi and your entire support system can help you manage these changes so that you can experience the best outcome possible. Here’s a look at what life after lap band will look like.

Immediately After Surgery

You may spend the night in the hospital after surgery, but most of your recovery will take place at home. It’s important that you get plenty of rest and avoid lifting anything heavy during the first few days, but you’ll also need to walk around as much as possible. You may have a little soreness, but this can usually be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. Follow any other post-op instructions you receive from your doctor.

The first month after your surgery will be focused on recovering, resting and adjusting to the gastric band that’s been placed on your stomach. You’ll be on a liquid diet immediately after surgery. You’ll move gradually up to soft foods and should be completely on solid foods within six weeks. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on this progression to avoid nausea and vomiting and to give your body a chance to heal.

Adding Physical Activity

Walking around as much as possible after surgery will help your body recover faster. After the first month, increasing your physical activity will help you lose weight. Think about adding activity into your life progressively in the same way you worked your way up to solid foods from a liquid diet. If you’ve been living a mostly sedentary life, don’t expect to become extremely active right after surgery.

Start with focusing on walking more than you usually do. Take advantage of opportunities to be active around the house; something as simple as gardening or walking to get the mail can have a positive impact. As you become more comfortable, try walking faster and for longer periods of time. Your doctor can help you adjust your activity level at a pace that is both safe and effective.

Getting Adjustments

One of the advantages of lap band surgery is the ability to adjust the tightness of the band around your stomach. During an adjustment, your doctor will use syringe and needle to inject or remove saline through the port that was placed under your skin. Adding saline to the port will tighten the band, and removing saline will loosen it. You’ll need to learn how to listen to your body and communicate with your doctor to find the right fit.

  • A band that is too tight can make it difficult to eat and cause vomiting.
  • A band that is too loose and doesn’t restrict your food intake can interfere with weight loss.
  • When your band is adjusted properly, you should feel full quickly, not experience hunger between meals, and lose weight steadily.

Your first adjustment will usually take place four to six weeks after surgery. Most patients need multiple adjustments to find and maintain the perfect fit. You can expect to have five to eight adjustments in the first year after surgery, and you’ll need them less frequently as you continue to lose weight.

Long-term Changes

The way you eat will change forever after lap band surgery. While no foods are off limits, you will be encouraged to learn about nutrition so that you can make healthier choices about what you eat. In addition, you’ll be more likely to reach your weight loss goals and experience fewer complications if you:

  • Eat three small meals a day.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Chew your foods thoroughly.
  • Avoid high-calorie drinks.
  • Avoid liquids before and during meals.
  • Avoid fibrous or stringy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.

Lap band surgery is not a quick fix or a short-term weight loss solution. Success with weight loss surgery requires a long-term commitment. Lap band surgery can, however, help you keep your commitment to yourself.