Lap-Band Surgery: How to Prepare

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Surgery is stressful—it's undeniable. However, the more you can do to prepare in advance, the better you're likely to feel when it comes time to drive to the hospital. If you're planning on getting the Lap-Band procedure, your doctor will provide you with clear instructions on how to prepare and what to expect. To give you a basic idea, here's an overview of the common practices associated with Lap-Band surgery.

Location

Lap-Band surgery is typically performed at either the hospital or a surgery center. Your doctor will generally ask you to arrive the morning of the procedure.

It's crucial to get to your surgery appointment on time (or a little early). Patients usually arrive about two hours prior to surgery in order to fill out any lingering paperwork, allow the medical team to insert an IV, talk with the anesthesiologist, and take any additional steps required to prepare for surgery. General anesthesia will then be administered in the operating room.

Patient is prepared for Lap-Band surgery
SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

What to Wear

You'll be provided with a hospital gown for the actual procedure, but many patients prefer to have comfortable clothes to change into during the remainder of their stay. Expect to spend one night in the hospital (24 hours) following the Lap-Band procedure, unless complications warrant additional monitoring time.

In general, the following should be avoided on the day of surgery:

  • Acrylic nails or nail polish
  • Contact lenses (wear glasses if needed)
  • Dentures (can be worn but may need to be removed)
  • False eyelashes
  • Make-up

Read through any pre-op materials provided by your surgeon to ensure that you adhere to the restrictions they require.

Food and Drink

In addition to your pre-op diet (which may last anywhere from six weeks to two weeks before your scheduled surgery), your surgeon may ask you to follow other dietary restrictions before your procedure. They or their staff may suggest, for example, no solid food should be consumed beginning at midnight two days prior to surgery.

You may also be placed on a clear liquid diet that includes items like:

  • Broth
  • Clear soda
  • Coffee
  • Gatorade
  • Jello
  • Popsicles
  • Seltzer
  • Tea
  • Water

Your surgeon may also advise you to limit caffeine and choose sugar-free versions of the above liquids. Proper hydration before surgery is essential.

If you have any questions about whether or not specific items are allowed, don't take a chance by guessing. Check with your doctor's office for specific advice regarding certain products and beverages.

Medications

Prescription medications, over-the-counter meds, or supplements will likely need to be adjusted or discontinued prior to surgery. Your doctor should review your current medication regimen and provide clear instructions that are tailored to you.

For instance, blood-clotting medications like aspirin, Coumadin (warfarin), or Plavix will need to be stopped before surgery to reduce blood loss, but only your doctor can advise how far in advance it is safe to stop taking them. If you take fish oil, which can have blood-thinning effects, you'll also likely be asked to stop this supplement for a period of time before your procedure.

Remember to inform your doctor of any medications or supplements that you're taking prior to surgery to avoid potential complications.

Diabetes Medications

If you're on insulin to manage diabetes, your dosage will need to be adjusted to account for your pre-op diet. Taking the same amount of insulin while eating significantly less (especially during a clear liquid diet) puts you at risk for hypoglycemia.

Your doctor may also advise you to discontinue Glucophage (metformin) two days before surgery.

Discontinue Seven Days Before Surgery

While you should always follow the individual advice provided by your surgeon, the following are usually discontinued seven days prior to bariatric surgery procedures.

  • Gout medication: Including colchicine and indomethacin
  • Ibuprofen and NSAIDS: Motrin, Advil, Aleve, and Relafen
  • Supplements: Glucosamine, chondroitin, ginseng, vitamin E, St. John's wort, garlic supplements
  • Weight-loss medications: Such as Qsymia (phentermine-topiramate), Contrave (naltrexone-bupropion), and Adipex or Lomaira (phentermine)

Meds to Avoid on Surgery Day

Your doctor may advise you to stop taking diuretics (water pills) and blood pressure medications on the day of surgery. These can include:

  • Aldactone or spironolactone
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs)
  • Diovan
  • Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ)
  • Lasix (furosemide)

Even seemingly harmless dietary supplements could pose an issue on surgery day. Be mindful of what you're taking, and always be sure to share this information with your doctor.

What to Bring

It's generally not a good idea to bring cash, jewelry, or other valuables with you on your day of surgery. Bringing a book to read and a phone charger will be helpful during recovery. If you typically use a CPAP machine or other special items to sleep at night, double-check with the facility about what will be provided to you.

You'll need a pair of slippers or sandals to wear around the hospital, along with an outfit to wear on your ride home. Choose something that's loose-fitting and easy to put on, such as a zippered or button-up shirt and drawstring pants. Be sure to pack toiletries, like eyeglasses, contact lenses, deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Your health insurance card, photo identification, and a list of your medications and allergies should accompany you to the hospital. Anytime you're having surgery, it's a good idea to update advance-directive paperwork and provide a list of emergency contacts in case of complications during the procedure.

Your doctor will want you to have a designated support person to drive you home once you're medically cleared to be discharged.

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

One of the biggest lifestyle changes to commit to before the Lap-Band procedure is adherence to a strict, prescribed diet from your surgeon. Doctors vary somewhat in their approach to the pre-op diet, but the purpose is to reduce body fat and optimize your recovery post-surgery. Pre-op diets may range in duration from two to six weeks.

The typical characteristics of a pre-op diet for Lap-Band surgery include:

  • Clear liquids
  • Decreasing caffeine intake
  • Elimination of soda, refined carbs, and alcohol
  • Reduced calories (800 to 1200 calories per day)
  • Protein shakes with 20 grams of protein or more
  • Vitamins

Following your pre-op diet offers several benefits. This is a valuable opportunity to get used to eating less and prepare for life with a Lap-Band. High protein intake preserves muscle mass and promotes recovery, as do vitamin supplements.

For people who are used to drinking several caffeinated sodas or coffees a day, caffeine withdrawals post-surgery could make you feel less than your best. Coffee and soda are not included in the post-op meal plan for Lap-Band, so cutting back before surgery is preferable to going "cold turkey" afterward.

Adopting a lower-carbohydrate, reduced-calorie meal plan also gives your body a chance to adjust to having lower blood sugar levels. The diet helps decrease the amount of fat in your liver, giving your surgeon easier access to your stomach on the operating table, which will reduce potential complications and bleeding.

If you're a smoker, now is the time to quit. The Lap-Band is a life-changing procedure, and quitting smoking is the perfect adjunct to your health journey. Smoking makes it harder for your body to handle the physical stress of surgery, increasing the post-surgery risk of death by 17% and the risk of serious cardiovascular and lung problems by 53%.

Because it's more difficult for smokers to breathe under anesthesia, they may require additional medications, like albuterol. Smoking also impairs blood circulation, slowing down the healing process and making surgical incisions more susceptible to infection.

The carbon monoxide and other toxins in cigarette smoke linger in the body's tissues at the expense of oxygen (one of the body's best healing helpers).

Ideally, patients will quit smoking for several months to a year prior to undergoing the Lap-Band procedure. Still, even quitting 24 hours before surgery gives your body a better chance at recovery.

A Word From Verywell

Like other forms of weight-loss surgery, the Lap-Band procedure requires dramatic lifestyle changes. Taking the time to learn about the procedure and implement new habits before you go under the knife will ease your transition and give you a better chance of long-term success. Consider the Lap-Band as a tool that's meant to accompany an overall proactive approach to weight loss.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Allergan. LAP-BAND APO system adjustable gastric banding system with OMNIFORVI design. Updated 2011.

  2. Cedars Sinai, Marina Del Rey Hospital. How long is a person out of work after Lap-Band surgery?.

  3. Pathak D. Do's and don'ts for surgery preparation and care. Baylor College of Medicine. Updated May 1, 2018.

  4. New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, Center for Advanced Digestive Care. Pre-op education for bariatric surgery. Updated 2020.

  5. Lap-Band. Lap-Band pre-op diets.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. 3 reasons why smoking before surgery isn't an option. Updated August 5, 2020.