Gastric Banding–Surgery Information

by Christine on April 12th, 2010

filed under Gastric Banding Surgery, General Information

This blog post is a continuation of the last two gastric-banding surgery posts that I have written. Please read from the original posting first and then read this one in order to view them in chronological order! This posting describes the surgery prep and the gastric banding surgery itself.

Surgery Prep and Surgery Time!
Prior to surgery I was given very strict instructions for the three days leading up to the surgery. For starters — no eating, clear liquids only. (I suppose they didn’t mean vodka, either. Bummer.) Secondly, strict instructions to use antibacterial Dial soap instead of the smelly yummy body wash stuff I usually wear. And finally….

Laxatives! Seriously, there’s about a million laxatives they ask you to buy at the pharmacy. You have to do one enema a day in the evening for the three days leading up to surgery. Plus, they tell you to buy suppositories and Milk of Magnesia. My doc also told me to buy a few vitamins: B-12, B-complex, and Calcium+D.  (Milk of Magnesia is absolutely vile, by the way.)

Surgery Time
(I’m writing this a year after surgery so I’ll try hard to remember everything that happened)

On the day of the surgery I went into the hospital bright and early. My surgery was supposed to happen at 10 a.m. so I was there at 6 a.m. or something. I went into a changing room and got my awful hospital robe on. My husband was able to come in with me. I sat in the waiting room for a long, LONG time….three or four hours. A nurse came in to take my blood pressure and the usual vitals. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. I was required to take out all my jewelry (including earrings, tongue ring if I had one, nose ring, etc.) I didn’t want to take out my nose ring because it’s a pain in the ass to put back in, and the anesthesiologist was nice and let me leave it in.

I sat there for AGES reading a book and being nervous. The waiting time was really really hard! I couldn’t eat or drink anything for 24 hours beforehand, and I was SUPER thirsty.

FINALLY they were ready for me. I brought in head phones (I highly recommend this on the day of surgery) and listened to some Enya as they wheeled me into the operating room. I had my music up loud and I shut my eyes really tight because the bright-white lights of the room made me really nervous. There were like 10 doctors in the room and there was all this noise and I felt like crying! One doctor put the mask over my nose and told me to count backwards from 10. I think I made it to eight and then BOOM I was out.

(Really, having the headphones is such a good idea. It helped a LOT with the anxiety.)

Immediately after surgery I woke up in the recovery room. My husband was there by my side. I remember the waking up process was really hard, and I felt panicky, like it was hard to breathe. Having my husband there at my side was really nice. A nurse came by to talk to me and take my blood pressure, and then I was left to try to wake up.

I think they left me there for 2 hours or so. The recovery room was completely empty, and I think it was like 5 p.m. by the time I left the hospital. My husband talked to me and read to me a little bit. I was SOOOO THIRSTY and he held a cup of water and let me sip from it. (The nurse said I could have some.) I was so out of it that I may have drooled some on myself!

Finally my husband asked if I could go home because I was kind of abandoned by the nursing staff. I swear they were like, “Oh, what her? Oh yeah sure she can go home.” Like duh?

It was absolutely, 100% necessary that someone drove me home. I was absolutely in no shape to drive. I remember the bumps hurt my stomach, and I was crying by the time I got home. Getting in and out of the truck was hell on my stomach. My hubby said that I looked “Really really tired.”

When I got home I curled up in bed and hardly left for three or four days. The first couple of hours was uncomfortable, but the pain pills were mostly working. However, by the middle of the night the pain pills wore off, and oh man was I in pain!

Not only did my stomach hurt, but my back and shoulders hurt like in pure agony. I was warned that this would happen: laparoscopic procedures such as Lap-Band surgery involve inflating the abdomen with carbon dioxide, so the surgeon can see inside more easily. This inflation may result in shoulder pain. This pain occurs because the carbon dioxide injected into the body cavity presses on the nerves of the diaphragm, and these irritated nerves carry their pain message up into the shoulder area. I cried and cried, and my poor husband was distraught!

The next day was Saturday, and it became evident that my pain medications were not working. My husband got an on-call doctor to prescribe me new painkillers, but those didn’t work well either.

The shoulder pain abated after about three days, but the abdominal pain stayed for a week or more. My doctors attached the port site to my abdominal muscles, and it felt like they detached my abs when they sewed my port site to them. (That’s not actually the case, but that’s what it felt like.) Any activity that involved using my abs (sitting up out of bed, laying down into bed, putting on my shoes or even my pants) hurt like a bitch. This eventually just turned into a dull pain, and eventually subsided completely.

The incision sites never hurt at all.

For the next week after surgery I could have nothing but water. No caffeine, no soda, nothing. I was allowed to slowly start adding some juice to the water….first really really diluted juices, gradually making the juice stronger and stronger. I was living off of diluted apple juice, white grape juice, and dark grape juice. When I added juice, the flavor seemed so strong and delicious to me!  I believe that this liquid fasting period is to allow the band to “settle” on the stomach without inflaming it.

In all I received about five or six incisions from the surgery. They are in approximately these locations. All the incisions are surprisingly small, just a few milimeters in size. I’ll post some pics of my incisions sometime when I get to it!

The incisions are in locations that YES in a bikini you would notice. They are so small it’s surprising though. And let’s be honest — if you’re overweight to the point that you need gastric banding surgery, then are you really thinking that bikinis are in your future? (If yes, then perhaps you need to re-evaluate your goals so that they are more realistic.)

Tomorrow’s post will describe what follow-up doctor’s visits were like, as well as the saline injections (“fills”) are like.  This next part is the area where I encountered problems in the whole surgery experience, so stand by!!!

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  • Katie

    Dude, that sounds so brutal! I had no idea the recovery would be so hard. I guess it’s better than getting your stomach clipped permanently, though, right?

    You’re doing so well now!

  • Katie

    Dude, that sounds so brutal! I had no idea the recovery would be so hard. I guess it’s better than getting your stomach clipped permanently, though, right?

    You’re doing so well now!