Recovery Time a Top Concern for Gastric Bypass, Lap Band and Gastric Sleeve Patients Preparing for Life Immediately After Weight Loss Surgery

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New Jersey Bariatric surgeon Glenn Forrester reports childcare needs, few vacation days and financial consequences of loss of work drives patients concerns about recovery time.

New Jersey Bariatric Center: Medical & Surgical Weight Loss Center With Zero Mortality Rate

New Jersey Bariatric Center

Before they know it, they will be recovered from weight loss surgery and ready to take on the world. - Dr. Forrester, New Jersey Bariatric Center Surgeon

After more than 2,000 bariatric surgeries in the past 10 years, surgeons at the New Jersey Bariatric Center still find recovery time is a top concern for Gastric Bypass, LAP-BAND and Gastric Sleeve patients preparing for life immediately after surgery. The question of how much recovery time is needed after surgery is complicated by the fact that no two patients have the same definition or understanding of recovery time.

“Recovery time often has different meanings to different people who have Gastric Bypass, LAP-BAND and Gastric Sleeve surgery,” says New Jersey Bariatric Center surgeon Glenn Forrester. “While healing properly is a top priority, it is often followed by concerns over the amount of time recovery will take. Patients have limited sick days at work or need to plan for child care. Almost everyone is concerned about the financial consequences that being out of work may pose. For some, recovery time is a question of how long will they have pain post-surgery.”

Return to work and other activities

Patients lead such different lives, and each surgery – Gastric Bypass, LAP-BAND and Gastric Sleeve – involves different levels of invasiveness so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to when someone can return to normal daily activities such as driving, work and exercise. “The basic rule after any abdominal surgery is to wait at least three to four weeks before doing any heavy lifting (over 10 lbs.) or rigorous activity in order to reduce the risk of incisional hernias. This is the average time-frame for healing of the muscle layers to occur,” says Dr. Forrester.

Dr. Forrester said patients need to avoid driving in the early post-operative period, especially if prescription pain medication is still in use. After a doctor’s consent, driving should be safe, but beware the unexpected. Sudden stops can cause the abdominal muscles to tense up and increase the risk for hernias.

Returning to work will vary for each patient according to what type of work is done. For less physically rigorous jobs, such as those at a desk most of the day, a patient can return to work as soon as he or she is ready. Some patients say they are back at work only three days after surgery, according to Dr. Forrester. Other jobs, which are more physical, may take a longer recovery time.

“If there is no such thing as light duty where you work then it’s best to wait the full four weeks before returning,” he added. As with all surgery, patients should consult with their surgeon to determine the right recovery time.

Pain After Surgery

Dr. Forrester says that when asking about recovery time, some patients are actually asking how much pain they will have after bariatric surgery. “Pain is difficult to predict as each person has a different threshold for it,” said Dr. Forrester. “For the most part, post-op weight loss surgery pain comes from two sources: the incisions on the skin and a deeper pain that most patients associate with ‘gas.’ ”

Bariatric procedures performed by New Jersey Bariatric Center surgeons are done laparoscopically, so the incisions are very small. The largest is only about an inch. Smaller incisions usually mean less pain. Most patients describe the pain as feeling like they’ve done a rigorous abdominal workout (like crunches) and report the pain gone three or four days after surgery. Those who experience gas pain define a wider range in the duration of symptoms, Dr. Forrester said. However, patients stress that walking is the key to relief.

Mental Recovery Time

Even after the body heals and the patient is ready to return to life as normal, weight loss surgery patients must remember that life “as it was” is a thing of the past.
“People who’ve had weight loss surgery will need to develop a new relationship with food and the people in their lives,”’ he said. “They have to learn how to deal with issues like what to do when you’re offered cake at an office birthday celebration or when a group invites you out for lunch at a place where in the past you couldn’t resist high-fat foods.”

Sometimes, even when a patient is ready to return to work physically, mentally they may need time to adjust to a new way of eating and socializing. Forrester recommends patients give themselves as much time as needed to get into a routine with their diet and to think about how they will handle food-related social situations.

“Before they know it, they will be recovered from weight loss surgery and ready to take on the world,” says Dr. Forrester. “The only difference is they have taken a huge step to lead a healthier life.”

About New Jersey Bariatric Center

New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerset and Hoboken, New Jersey, helps patients achieve long-term weight loss success through the most advanced bariatric surgery procedures, including gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, LAP-BAND and REALIZE Band procedures. Led by the team of Drs. Ajay Goyal, Glenn Forrester and Angela Glasnapp and Leigh Montes, the New Jersey Bariatric Center’s approach to patient care has resulted in zero mortalities and a complication rate that is lower than the national average. For more information about bariatric surgery, visit

Free monthly patient education seminars are held four times a month for individuals interested in learning more about weight loss surgery. To view dates or register for a seminar, visit or call 908-481-1270.

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Bonnie Smolen
since: 04/2013
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New Jersey Bariatric Center
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