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Obesity Surgery Discharge Information

What is obesity surgery?

Obesity surgery (also called bariatric surgery) is an operation that can help you lose weight when other treatments for severe obesity have not worked. Severe obesity is defined as being more than 100 pounds overweight or having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. The BMI is a measure of your weight in relation to your height.

The aim of obesity surgery is to change the gastrointestinal (GI) tract so it limits the amount of food you can eat. It will cause you to feel full more quickly when you eat, which means you will eat less.

Obesity surgery may be done if you have:

  • Severe obesity (BMI of 40 or more)
  • BMI of 35 and an illness related to your obesity, such as diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis. Adjustable gastric bands may be used if your BMI is 30 or more and you have at least one condition linked to obesity.
  • Failed to lose weight after 6 months of documented weight loss treatments

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the type of obesity surgery you have, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.


  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Replace vitamins and minerals that your body is no longer able to absorb from the food that you eat
    • Relieve gas and bloating
  • To care for your incision:
    • Keep your incision clean.
    • If you are told to change your dressing on your incision, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.


  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can delay healing.
  • You will need to make changes in the foods you eat. You will work with your provider and a dietician to learn what you can eat, how much you can eat, and what you need in a healthy diet. Ask your healthcare provider if there are foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Find ways to make your life less stressful.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Bowel movement with bright red blood
  • Bright red blood in your vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds

Do not drive yourself if you have any of these symptoms.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal cramps or pain
  • Acid indigestion
  • Black, tarry bowel movements
  • Blood sugar higher or lower than the limits set by your provider
  • Dehydration
  • Heartburn
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful.
    • Your wound area is very warm to touch.
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area.
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C).
    • You have chills or muscle aches.
  • Depression
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-30
Last reviewed: 2014-04-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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