Returning to Daily Routines After Surgery

female patient returning to work after bariatric surgeryAfter having bariatric surgery, people need time for their bodies to heal before they transition back to their normal routines. This means that patients need to plan for some changes in the first few weeks after surgery. Accommodations for daily tasks such as work or child care need to be made in order to heal normally and without complications. Here are some tips to help you achieve a normal recovery:

  • Get the details. Your doctor will give you an estimate for how long recovery may take for you personally, given a variety of factors such as your type of surgery and any health conditions you may have. Use this as a guide, but remember, it is an estimate and your recovery may take more or less time. Many patients take 1 to 3 weeks off, and work in a limited capacity for a time afterwards. Talk to your doctor for specific recommendations.
  • Plan ahead. Talk to your supervisor well before your surgery date to arrange an alternative schedule to accommodate your healing process. This will depend on your personalized recommendation from your doctor. You are not required to disclose the type of surgery you had (if you don’t feel comfortable revealing that information.) But either way, you need to be clear about what your physical limitations will be, and your approximate time to recovery. Work to find the best solution, whether that means taking days off, taking half-days, or limiting the amount of physical activity you engage in. 
  • Stick to the plan. Your doctor will also create a personalized plan for the diet and exercise changes you’ll make after surgery. You may start with a liquid diet, then proceed to pureed, soft, and then a solid food diet. Read more about your dietary changes throughout your journey. Remember, your final diet will be lifelong, not just during the healing process. Exercise is an important part of your recovery and it begins with small amounts of walking. Follow your personalized plan to make sure you don’t over-exert yourself too soon.
  • Keep it light. Once you do return to your normal routine, you may still be limited in the amount of physical activity you can do for a number of weeks. Things like heavy lifting or strenuous manual labor should be avoided until the healing process is complete.
  • Take breaks. Although strenuous activity is not advised, it is very beneficial to engage in light activity such as walking. Take frequent breaks to rest. Over time, you can increase the amount of time you spend walking. This helps your body recover, and also increases your physical ability and encourages weight loss.
  • Follow up. When you return for your follow up visit with your health care team after surgery, make sure to check in with them about how your recovery is going. Your team can use this information to continue to create the best personalized plan for your needs.
  • Watch for warning signs. If you feel any significant pain or discomfort while doing an activity, stop immediately. Pay attention to the signals of your body and learn to recognize which activities to avoid. Remember, healing is a process and will take some time. Be patient with your body and your abilities. If you feel any extreme or persistent pain, contact your doctor.