Recovering from weight loss surgery  

After weight loss surgery, you'll need a few days to recover. It may also be several weeks or months before you can resume normal activities, depending on the type of surgery you have.

Recovering from a gastric band operation

When you wake after surgery, you'll probably have some pain at the site of the surgery. This is normal and should pass within a few days.

Blood clots are uncommon, but serious complications can occur after banding, including:

To reduce the risk of blood clots, you may be given a blood-thinning medication, such as heparin, and compression stockings to wear.

Once you feel well enough, move around as much you can to further reduce your risk of blood clots.

For the first 24 hours, you'll only be allowed to drink a small amount of liquid, to prevent vomiting.

Gradually, small amounts of more textured food will be introduced into your diet. Read about life after weight loss surgery.

Gastric band surgery may be carried out as a day case and most people are well enough to leave hospital within 24 hours of surgery. You can resume normal activities within four to six weeks.

Four to six weeks after surgery, your stomach should have healed enough that your band can be adjusted by inflating it with saline (sterile salt water).

This is done by inserting a needle via the access point through which the saline is pumped. The band will then inflate and constrict the upper pouch of your stomach. The whole process takes around 15 minutes. This is sometimes done after numbing your abdomen with a local anaesthetic, using an X-ray to locate the band.

Often, this process of adjustment is a fine balancing act. For example, if the band is too loose you may not lose weight, but if the band is too tight, you may vomit after eating.

Therefore, it can take a number of sessions before the ideal adjustment for your band is reached.

Recovering from a gastric bypass

Once you wake after surgery, you'll probably have a drip in your arm, to provide your body with liquids, and you may have a tube in your bladder, known as a urinary catheter, to drain urine out of your bladder.

These tubes will be removed once you're well enough to get out of bed.

Again, you may be given blood-thinning medication and compression stockings to wear to help prevent blood clots.

You'll only be allowed a liquid diet immediately after surgery, and solids will be slowly introduced into your diet.

Most people are well enough to leave hospital one to four days after surgery and resume normal activities within three to five weeks.

Recovering from other types of weight loss surgery

The recovery time for other types of weight loss surgery are:

  • sleeve gastrectomy – one to four days to leave hospital and four to six weeks to resume normal activities
  • bilo-pancreatic diversion – one to four days to leave hospital and three to six months to resume normal activities
  • gastric balloon – fitting a gastric balloon is a non-invasive procedure, so you should be able to leave hospital on the same day and resume normal activities almost immediately

You'll also only be allowed a liquid diet immediately after these types of surgery, and solids will be slowly introduced into your diet.

Page last reviewed: 26/03/2015

Next review due: 26/03/2017