Lap-Band Surgery: Recovery

It takes an hour or less to complete most gastric banding, or Lap-Band, surgeries. Once your doctor wakes you up from anesthesia, it's time to embark on the road to recovery and better health.

You'll be expected to start moving almost right away. Simple actions, like standing up and adjusting your position in bed, can encourage circulation, reduce the risk of blood clots, and boost the healing process. Here's what to expect in the early days following your procedure.

Man walking after surgery with assistance from hospital staff

Surgery Follow-Up

Within the first day after Lap-Band surgery, a nurse or physical therapist will assist you in getting out of bed. You'll start walking slowly, working up to three times per day. You'll also be instructed to perform breathing and coughing exercises to clear and expand your lungs (which is an essential consideration after general anesthesia).

Although frequent movement is encouraged, strenuous activity is not. Your surgeon will likely plan to check-in within 10 to 21 days after the procedure. Follow-up from there typically continues at an interval of six weeks, and then every three months for the first year.

These visits will likely include bloodwork to monitor your nutritional status and any chronic conditions. If you're having acid reflux, you may be placed on prescription medication to manage this common side effect. Depending on your progress, your doctor will let you know when it's safe to take on harder workouts.

Even once you're cleared to go back to work, you may want to give yourself a little extra time at home to feel like yourself before jumping back into a busy schedule. It's not uncommon to experience the following symptoms for a couple of weeks after the Lap-Band procedure:

  • Fatigue
  • Flatulence or gas pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loose stools
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weakness

Try to plan ahead if possible to give yourself a little extra leeway and assistance with the first stage of recovery. The less pressure you put on yourself to resume a full schedule right away, the better chance you have to heal properly.

Recovery Timeline

The typical timeline for resuming physical activity after the Lap-Band procedure is to start moving within hours after your surgery. Guidance on gentle exercises will be provided by your nurse or physical therapist.

Once you're discharged to go home (usually after 24 hours), you can start moving more. As long as you feel up to it and your doctor doesn't advise otherwise, going up and down the stairs and continuing to take walks is encouraged.

Following your surgery, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Within the first six weeks: Avoid lifting more than 20 to 30 pounds. Stay away from pushing and pulling motions (such as vacuuming). Unless advised otherwise, aim to be walking two miles per day by your sixth-week visit, or 30 to 45 minutes total. This can be broken up into four different walking breaks.
  • Within the first three months: Don't lift, carry, or push anything heavy. When it doubt, err on the side of caution. Although you may feel completely healed on the outside, your internal organs are still recovering.

Everyone's recovery is a little bit different. Be sure to communicate with your doctor before jumping back into a full schedule after surgery.

Work and Travel

Avoid driving until you are completely finished taking prescription pain medications, as these can impair your reflexes. For most patients, pain meds are discontinued about one week after surgery.

Depending on the type of job you have, you may be ready to get back to work within one to two weeks after your Lap-Band surgery. Because you'll be following a liquid or pureed diet for up to three weeks after the procedure, you may still be feeling weak or dealing with digestive issues.

Communicate with your human resources department prior to surgery so you can set up a flexible plan for your return to work. If possible, working from home or easing back in part-time for the first week or two could be a big help.

You'll need to follow the advice from your doctor about staying hydrated, getting adequate protein, and taking any supplements or medications as advised. This may require more frequent breaks at work, or being able to keep a water bottle or cooler nearby.

Because you'll need enough time to chew your food thoroughly, and the opportunity to eat a total of six smaller meals per day (rather than three large meals), slight adjustments may need to be made to your work schedule.

If your job involves physical labor or you are required to be on your feet for long stretches at a time, talk to your doctor and employer about making any necessary accommodations. It's just as important to avoid sitting for too long, so if you work at a busy desk job, be sure to get up and stretch or go for short walks.

Coping With Recovery

Initial discomforts following the Lap-Band procedure tend to be localized around your abdomen. Tylenol (acetaminophen), a warm heating pad, and regular walking can help ease swelling during recovery from laparoscopic procedures.

Remember, the early days of recovery are temporary and your symptoms should progressively improve. Try to be patient with your body as it heals from the stress of surgery.

Although you may be eager to start a new exercise class or enjoy a night out with family and friends, it's essential to take it easy and avoid setting yourself back. Gradually, you'll be ready to move forward with activities you didn't think possible prior to surgery.

Wound Care

Following a laparoscopic procedure, like the Lap-Band, you should be able to take showers. Avoid bathing and swimming for about two weeks after your procedure to give your incisions proper time to heal.

Your doctor will probably keep you overnight in the hospital after surgery and can help you change your first set of bandages. Surgery tape, called steri-strips, are usually fine to remove within two to three days after your procedure.

Your surgeon will send you home with detailed instructions on caring for your wounds. If you notice any signs of infection or have concerns, it's crucial to follow-up right away to prevent the issue from escalating.

Signs of infection at the incision site may include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Foul odor
  • Hot or inflamed
  • Pus or drainage
  • Redness
  • Soreness or pain that gets worse rather than better over time

Immune system issues, poorly controlled diabetes, and smoking put patients at a higher risk of infection after surgery. Your doctor may decide to place you on antibiotics or bring you into the office for an evaluation if you're having trouble healing.

A Word From Verywell

There's a fine balance between doing too much and doing too little after the Lap-Band procedure. While you want to keep your body moving and progressing towards a more active lifestyle, you also need to know when to take it easy.

Follow your doctor's recommendations, listen to your body, and give yourself the time you need to recover fully before pushing too hard at the gym, at home, or at work. The Lap-Band is an investment in your long-term health and well-being. Proper healing and recovery are a vital piece of the puzzle.

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. University of California San Francisco Health. Recovering from bariatric surgery.

  2. John Hopkins Medicine. Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.

  3. NIH MedlinePlus. Diet after gastric banding. Updated July 11, 2018.

  4. Cleveland Clinic. Sterilization by laparoscopy: procedure details. Updated September 26, 2019.

  5. NIH MedlinePlus. Surgical wound infection - treatment. Updated September 3, 2018.