Getting Ready for Gastric Band Surgery
Once you’ve made the decision to have gastric banding, there is a period of time during which you must complete paper work, visit with Dr. Bagnato and other members of the weight loss surgery team, and organize your insurance or financing for bariatric surgery.
This is an ideal time to prepare yourself for surgery, and for life after surgery, in the months and weeks leading up to your procedure.
Dietary and Lifestyle Preparations
It’s important to take steps to change your diet and certain lifestyle habits even before you undergo weight loss surgery. Making changes now will not only prepare you for losing weight after surgery, it can also decrease your risk for complications during surgery.
- Start Sugar Busters diet: Removing glucose from your diet will help shrink your liver, making your stomach more visible and accessible during surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with guidelines for this diet.
- Switch to calorie-free, non-carbonated beverages: After surgery, it will be important that you not sabotage your weight loss efforts with too many “liquid calories.” The sooner you start making the switch, the better.
- Eat plenty of protein: A high-protein diet will help you begin to lose weight and heal more quickly after surgery.
- Practice your new eating habits: After surgery, you won’t be able to eat and drink at the same time, and you’ll need to wait at least 30 minutes after your meal before drinking. You’ll also need to learn to eat more slowly, so practice taking at least 20 minutes to finish a plate of food and chewing each bite at least 20 times.
- Be conscious of when you eat: Avoid mindless munching that occurs in the car or in front of the TV. Constant grazing after surgery could interfere with your weight loss efforts, so it’s helpful to get into the practice of eating separate, portion-controlled meals.
- Start exercising: As you lose weight, you’ll be able to increase your amount of daily physical activity. Before surgery, you can prepare yourself for this lifestyle change by walking or swimming. You don’t have to push yourself beyond what you’re physically capable of or comfortable with in order to benefit from exercise.
- Give up caffeine: You’ll probably be advised to give up caffeine—especially in the form of soft drinks—after surgery. Slowly removing caffeine from your diet before surgery can prevent withdrawal symptoms after your procedure.
- If you smoke, quit. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk for complications during and after surgery.
- Take a daily multivitamin: A vitamin that contains iron will help prepare your body for surgery and recovery.
Showing that you can take these steps before surgery will demonstrate your commitment to the process. It will also decrease your risk for complications during and after surgery and make the long-term changes easier. Most people also notice some weight loss before having surgery because of the prep work required.
Mental and Emotional Preparations
You are going to be experiencing significant life changes. While you’ll be enjoying the benefits of weight loss soon, it’s also important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for the more challenging aspects of undergoing gastric banding.
- Understand the procedure, including risks and benefits: Your surgeon will probably require you to attend an informational seminar before scheduling your surgery. You may also have access to reading materials or online information. Educate yourself about what will happen during surgery, what complications you might encounter, and what changes you’ll need to make after surgery.
- Talk to your friends and family: Enlist the help of the people closest to you by talking to them about the details of the surgery and the changes you’ll be expected to make afterward. Your family and friends can be a great source of support and encouragement before and after surgery. It’s especially helpful for the people who live with you to be aware of the dietary changes you’ll need to make.
- Build a support system of experts: In addition to talking to friends and family, consider taking advantage of medical professionals and bariatric support groups. Talk to other people who have undergone gastric banding. Find out about nutritionists or fitness experts that can help you with changes before and after surgery. Your surgical center should be able to direct you to these resources.
Before having surgery, you’ll meet with several healthcare professionals to ensure that you’re fully prepared for surgery.
- Initial meeting with surgeon: Your surgeon will talk to you about your weight loss history, individual risks, and the details of your procedure. You should feel free to ask your surgeon about their experience with gastric banding, their complication rates, and the support that will be provided to you before and after surgery.
- Meetings with nutritionist/dietitian: Learn about the diet you’ll be expected to follow before and after surgery. You can also get help with creating a shopping list of the foods you should have on hand when you first come home from surgery.
- Medical tests: in addition to giving a complete medical history, you’ll need to have an x-ray taken and get blood work done at some point before your surgery. Your surgeon may require additional testing, including an upper endoscopy or EKG, depending on your medical history and specific risks.
Final Preparations Before Surgery
Before your surgery, make arrangements for someone to accompany you to and from the hospital. You won’t be able to eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your operation, but you’ll want to stock your home with some post-op essentials, including ice chips, clear broths, fruit juice, and sugar-free popsicles. On the day of your surgery, be sure to bring comfortable, loose-fitting clothes, flat-soled shoes, and a small pillow to protect your stomach from the seatbelt on your drive home. If you’ll be spending the night in the hospital, you’ll also want to bring basic toiletries and pajamas.