How Quickly Can I Return to Work After Weight Loss Surgery?

Posted by Patrick Domkowski on Tue, Nov 06, 2012

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding bariatric surgery is, “how long before I can get back to my normal routine.” We know that it is important to take time for our health, but the unfortunate truth is that we need to know exactly how long it will take to recover so that we can return to work.

As you know, there are different bariatric surgery options, and the recovery time varies depending on the procedure and the person. Remember that there is no set recovery time -- everyone is different. However, a study conducted by the University of Nevada School of Medicine shows the average recovery times for different bariatric surgeries. The statistics are shown in the graph below.

recovery time graph

The three most popular bariatric surgeries include open gastric bypass, laparoscopic gastric bypass, and lap band surgery. On the graph above the “return to normal activity” bar is the time it took most people to return to work. If your job requires more physical activity you may have to wait a little longer. The “full recovery” bar is the amount of days it took on average for people to be able to do more strenuous activities such as lifting and working out. Remember that even though you are fully recovered your doctor will give you a specific diet that you must follow even after recovery.

Both open and laparoscopic gastric bypass surgeries have about a 2 to 3 week recovery period before most people return to work. The difference in these two surgeries is the way they are performed. Open surgery is completed by making one large incision on your abdominal area. Laparoscopic surgery instead uses five or six very small incisions to complete the surgery. This causes laparoscopic surgery patients to have significantly less scarring than open surgery patients. There is also a micro-laparoscopic surgery option that leaves such small incisions that it is many times you cannot even find the scar after it is healed. Very few doctors are certified in this micro-laparoscopic surgery (also called the STARR Treatment), but it is proving to have an even shorter recovery time than traditional laparoscopic surgery.

The surgery with the shortest recovery time is lap band surgery. On average, lap band surgery patients return to work in one week and are fully recovered in just two weeks. As stated earlier, it does change from patient to patient, but overall, lap band surgery consistently shows shorter recovery times. With lap band surgery, you will have to visit your doctor for scheduled adjustments to the band, but these are quick and painless.

Overall, when it comes to returning back to work after bariatric surgery, it can take anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. If you are looking for the shortest turnaround time, lap band surgery may be a good fit for you. It is important to talk to a doctor to see which surgery is right for you and your situation. Remember that the benefits of the weight loss surgery can also make you more productive in your job in the future, so be sure to figure that into your decision.


Tags: Cost of Weight Loss Surgery

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