Managing Pain after Weight Loss Surgery
As you recover from your weight loss operation, you should expect to experience small to moderate amounts of discomfort. Being prepared for that discomfort and implementing a plan to manage pain will enhance your recovery period in the days following your bariatric surgery.
Communicate Any Discomfort
Communicating with your surgical team is paramount after weight loss surgery. Everyone’s tolerance for pain is different, so it’s often hard for your bariatric surgeon or nurse to determine how you will react in comparison with other bariatric patients. While a moderate amount of discomfort should be expected after weight loss surgery, if something hurts you need to make your surgical team aware of it.
We use a scale of 0 to 10 to evaluate pain levels, with 0 being no pain at all and 10 being the worst pain possible. Decide where on this scale the pain would fall and alert your surgical care team. Another way to communicate your pain is with simple descriptive terms like mild, moderate and severe.
The type and amount of pain medication administered to you will depend on personal factors related to your health and will be determined by your bariatric surgeon. As you experience pain it’s wise to alert your physician before it becomes unbearable. Pain medication is more efficient if you take it before the pain intensifies, so if you feel that you will need pain medication it is better to alert someone early on.
Pain medication is addictive, and so it’s only dispersed in small quantities that will alleviate pain without prompting dependency. Some patients are reluctant to take any pain medication out of a fear of dependency, but research shows that risk of addiction is very low when medication is administered properly and for a medical purpose like surgical recovery.
Aspirin free over-the-counter pain medications are also able to alleviate less severe pain, but before taking any medications make sure to get clearance from Dr. Taylor.
Alternative Techniques to Manage Pain
There is a possibility that discomfort will persist for several weeks after your surgical date. To effectively manage pain while you focus on recovery and transition back to work, there are a number of alternative pain management techniques you can employ, such as:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Light physical activity, such as walking across the room or doing low-impact aerobic movements with your arms and legs.
- Soaking in a tub or pool
- Massage or aromatherapy
These are just a few alternative pain management techniques that could potentially lessen the experience of post-operative pain. For more information on managing pain after bariatric surgery, talk with Dr. Taylor.