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Bariatric Surgery: What is Recovery Like?

Written By: Emma Squillace

If you are considering bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), you’re likely educating yourself on all aspects of the procedure. That can be an undertaking since there’s so much to learn about what to do before surgery, insurance, the procedure itself, and your weight loss. Today we’ll help you understand more about the recovery process, and what a patient goes through for the few weeks after that weight loss surgery.


When we perform bariatric surgery, we almost always do the operation laparoscopically, instead of “open”. When a procedure is laparoscopic, it means the incisions are very small. On the other hand, an “open” surgery has one large incision. There are several benefits to laparoscopic surgery, and one of them is less noticeable scars. You will have several little scars instead. Over time, these will fade and in some patients they become almost invisible. Some patients find their scars are a slightly different color than their skin.

Post-surgical pain

When you wake up from bariatric surgery, you should not be in pain because we will have given you pain medication during your operation. As that wears off, you will likely have some soreness across your belly and maybe your throat. Laparoscopic surgery patients generally have less post-operative pain. Some of our patients tell us they have the most pain several days after surgery, because they’re moving around more – especially twisting or moving the abdominal area – and that can cause discomfort during the healing process. For several weeks you may continue to feel soreness, especially with movements like getting out of a car. Pain medication should be sufficient to make you comfortable.

Exercising during recovery

During your recovery, some amount of movement can be helpful so we may ask you to walk a little bit even the first few days after surgery. You’re going to be very tired since your body is working on healing, and because you will not be taking in many calories. It is an adjustment and resting is very important, so do not overdo it with movement. As you progress through recovery and are over a week from the operation, we’ll likely ask you to take short walks several times a day. We do not want you lifting weights or doing anything strenuous. After a month, many of our patients are able to begin to do more exercise than walking. Although you’ll likely be motivated by your weight loss at this point, and may be eager to kick your exercise into high gear, please remember that you should work up to more advanced exercise carefully. We will discuss with you when we believe it is appropriate for you to begin more advanced exercises like lifting weights or jogging. We want to make sure your body is healed from the procedure, and ready for that level of activity.

Symptoms to watch for

The recovery from weight loss surgery – or any surgery – will involve some level of discomfort. However, you should not be in severe pain, so that would be a reason to contact us. You may also have bruising around the area of the surgery, but if you have redness that gets worse, increasing warmth and swelling, or bleeding at the incision sites, let us know right away. We’ll ask you to check your temperature and let us know if you have a fever. Other things to watch for are a cough that doesn’t go away, trouble swallowing or breathing, and vomiting after you eat or drink. If you’re unsure if a symptom is cause for concern, please get in touch with us. We want to make sure you’re comfortable and will always be happy to discuss questions during your recovery.

Bariatric surgery is life-changing for many people. They often lose weight they’ve been struggling with for years or decades, and many see chronic diseases reverse themselves. However, even with these benefits, it can be scary if you don’t know what your recovery will be like. If you have further questions about the recovery after bariatric surgery we’re happy to speak with you. Our experts can help you feel confident and educated in each phase of weight loss treatment. From insurance coverage to scheduling to recovery and beyond, we want to make sure your questions are answered. We can be reached at (855) 690-0565.

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