Breathing Exercises for Bariatric Surgery
While breathing is a natural, involuntary action, there is a correct way to do it. Proper breathing can help exercise your lungs, reduce stress, and improve heart function; all of this helps to reduce your risk for complications during surgery and recovery.
How do you know whether or not you’re breathing properly? Lightly place your hands on your stomach and inhale deeply. If your stomach moves and your hands move upward, you’re breathing properly. If not, then you’re not using your stomach. In any case, do this breathing exercise every day until your procedure:
- Lie on the floor with your head on a pillow, your knees bent, and your hands placed gently on your stomach. If you find the floor too uncomfortable, try the exercise while sitting in a chair.
- Inhale so that it feels like your lower lungs are full. You should feel your stomach rise.
- Hold your breath for three seconds, then exhale slowly.
- Repeat step 3 four more times.
- Relax for a minute.
After a few days, work toward holding your breath during step 3 for four, and eventually five, seconds.
Coughing exercises can improve your breathing by clearing your lungs. The exercise is simple: inhale deeply, filling your lower lungs, then cough twice as you exhale. Do this 4 or 5 times a day to clear out phlegm and open up your lungs’ air sacs.
If you smoke, it’s very important to quit at least 6 to 8 weeks before weight loss surgery. Smoking puts additional stress on the heart and interferes with lung function. Here are a few of the myriad reasons to quit smoking before surgery:
- It can interfere with recovery. In order for your body to heal from surgery, the blood brings oxygen to the affected area. Inhaling cigarette smoke instead of air decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood supply, which means that less is available to help your body recover.
- It can disqualify you from surgery. Continuing to smoke indicates to some doctors that you’re not ready to commit to the healthy lifestyle required after weight loss surgery.
- It can irritate your stomach pouch. Smoking can cause ulcers to develop on the stomach pouch after surgery.
- It makes the surgery itself more dangerous. A study conducted recently by the American Society of Anesthesiologists showed that patients who smoked within 24 hours of going under general anesthesia were 20 times more likely to experience an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart during surgery.
Think of proper breathing as one of the first stages of your journey toward better health. More than likely, exercising your lungs will feel rejuvenating.