Lap-Band Surgery: What to Expect on the Day of Surgery

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After weeks or months of preparation, the day of your Lap-Band surgery is an exciting and busy one. To prepare for the operation, your doctor may want to perform various tests to ensure your safety under anesthesia. After just an hour or so on the operating table, you'll be expected to begin light exercise almost immediately after waking up.

Under normal circumstances, expect to undergo a mere 24 hours of post-surgical monitoring before you'll be cleared to head back home. Here's what you can expect during the moments immediately before and after your procedure, along with key pointers to keep in mind as you begin the road to recovery.

Before the Surgery

The majority of testing performed before Lap-Band surgery is intended to assess your body's ability to hold up under anesthesia. General anesthesia presents several potential health risks, so it's imperative to have a thorough assessment of your fitness for surgery.

Depending on your medical history, an evaluation of your lung function and cardiovascular system may be warranted. Pulmonary function tests help predict your lung's ability to maintain oxygen flow under anesthesia, while stress tests or echocardiograms can identify underlying risks associated with your heart.

Your doctor will also want to monitor basic vital signs, like your heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and oxygen level prior to and during surgery. Depending on your medical history and medications, additional pre-op testing may be required.

An updated weight taken right before surgery will provide important information for the anesthesiologist and give your doctor a starting point for comparison as you continue losing after the procedure.

Along with your surgeon and anesthesiologist, a team of nurses or surgical assistants will be in the operating room during your procedure. If your surgeon is mentoring a surgical resident or medical student, it's possible that these individuals will be present as well for training during your procedure.

If you have any questions or concerns about who will be attending your surgery, you can ask the office staff.

Surgeon performing laparoscopic Lap-Band surgery
JazzIRT / E+ / Getty Images

During the Surgery

The actual Lap-Band procedure is relatively straightforward and quick. You'll be placed under general anesthesia to ensure that you're fully asleep during the operation.

General anesthesia paralyzes muscles throughout your entire body, including the ones responsible for your lung function. For this reason, you may need to be temporarily put on a ventilator during Lap-Band surgery.

General anesthesia is administered either through a facemask or intravenous drip. Your vital signs (like oxygen level and heart rate) will be monitored while you're sedated. To help you breathe better, a tube may be placed down your throat and connected to a ventilator machine.

The Lap-Band procedure is performed using a minimally-invasive technique, called laparoscopy, which reduces the risk of blood clots, bleeding, and scarring compared to more invasive open surgery procedures. During laparoscopic surgery, small cuts are placed on the upper abdomen where surgical tools are inserted to perform the procedure.

The Lap-Band is a hollow, silicone band that's wrapped around the upper portion of the stomach. Once it's placed, the Lap-Band is tightened to create a small stomach pouch. A tiny port is then connected to the band underneath the skin to enable future tightening or loosening of the band (using an injectable saline solution).

Amazingly, this entire process takes just 30 and 60 minutes. If a hiatal hernia is discovered, the surgeon will likely repair this as part of the Lap-Band procedure.

Once the internal work is complete, your surgeon will seal up your incisions and bandage them. The breathing tube is removed and the ventilator is disconnected as the anesthesiologist reverses your sedation. You'll awake from surgery, still groggy from the medication.

Although you'll technically be able to move right away, it can take several hours, or even a couple of days, for the full effects of anesthesia to wear off. That's why it's important to have a reliable driver to bring you home following surgery.

Even if you feel normal, your reflexes and concentration may be impaired until the medication is fully out of your system.

After the Surgery

If you're not experiencing any complications you can expect to be discharged within 24 hours after the Lap-Band procedure. Immediately after surgery, you'll be encouraged to sip water or chew on ice chips to begin rehydrating and soothe your throat from intubation.

Getting up to walk shortly after the Lap-Band surgery improves circulation and encourages healing. Your doctor will probably want you to start moving right away, using the help and supervision of medical staff. Although you don't want to overdo it within the first few days after surgery, regular walking will benefit your recovery process.

Ultimately, developing a consistent exercise routine will play an essential role in your long-term success with the Lap-Band.

Once you go home, the transition to solid foods will take some time. For at least the first week, you'll be placed on a strict liquid diet. As you recover from surgery, you'll gradually progress to solid foods, starting with purees and easing into soft foods before resuming a regular diet.

Chew each bite thoroughly and take your time eating. If you rush into solids or eat more than your stomach is ready to handle, you'll impair the healing process and end up feeling sick. Potential dangers of overeating after Lap-Band surgery include:

  • Acid reflux
  • Band slippage
  • Gastric perforation (tearing the stomach)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pouch stretching
  • Stoma obstruction

Follow the instructions provided by your doctor on what to eat and which supplements to include in your new meal plan. Because your intake is restricted by the Lap-Band, you'll need to take in small portions of protein throughout the day and get adequate vitamins and minerals to prevent malnutrition and promote healing.

Be careful to follow your doctor's recommendations when tending to your incision sites and changing bandages. Special care will need to be taken when showering at first. Baths, hot tubs, and swimming pools will be off-limits until your skin is fully healed. Although laparoscopic incisions aren't large, they must be cared for properly to avoid infection.

A Word From Verywell

Lap-Band surgery is an initial move toward better health. While the immediate recovery period may be a bit challenging at times, you can expect to be up and about within a relatively short amount of time.

Weight loss starts happening right away after the Lap-Band is placed, so it won't be long before you start to reap the rewards from your procedure. With proper care and adherence to your doctor's recommendations, you'll learn how to use the Lap-Band to makeover your health.

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Article Sources
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