How quickly can I return to work after weight loss surgery?

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Most of us recognise how important it is to take time to heal properly after our weight-loss surgery, but the unfortunate truth is that we also need to know how long it takes to recover so that we can inform family, friends and employers.

Many of us will need to put in place some childcare or help at home and maybe stage it in some way, and some will also have to give employers a guideline as to when they might be able to return to work.

In general, most patients return to work in 1-4 weeks, depending upon procedure. That said, recovery times do vary enormously upon procedure as well as between individuals. It’s important to remember that there is no set recovery time – everyone is different. There is also a big difference between return to normal activity and full recovery.

As a guideline, both open and laparoscopic gastric bypass and sleeve surgery patients have about a 2-3 week recovery period, (although some can take as long as 6 weeks) before they can return to work. Open surgery patients generally take longer. The difference in how these two surgeries are performed explains this. 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 procedure. This causes laparoscopic surgery patients to have significant less scaring then open surgery patients and consequently in some cases a speedier recovery time.

The procedure 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.

Hospital stays times often reflect this too – lap band patients with just 1-2 days and bypass/sleeve patients 2-4 days.

What must be factored in is the kind of work that you do – if your job is very physical and involves strenuous activities, such as lifting, then your ability to be back on the job may take longer than someone with a ‘desk’ job.

Most employers do want you back in the workplace as soon as possible, even if you can’t perform ALL your duties right away. Negotiation of duties and a flexible return (say part-time to begin with) may well be the way forward and keep everyone happy. Shorter days, lighter duties, part-time work and rest periods can be discussed between both parties for the best scenario.

What should be remembered is that you are bound to have low energy for a while after surgery and so your safety (and the safety of others) is extremely important during this time. Don’t underplay your need for a decent and considered recovery time, it’s better to be realistic and honest with your employer at the outset to prevent disputes and upset further down the line.

Just remember that the benefits of bariatric surgery can make you more productive in your job in the future so it is in everyone’s interest that your recovery time is sympathetically but responsibly taken into consideration.

About Ramsay Health Care Weight Loss Surgery Services

Ramsay Health Care is a leading provider of weight loss surgery in the UK. Highly qualified and experienced bariatric surgeons, who have undergone intensive specialist training in their speciality, perform a full range of weight loss procedures within Ramsay Hospitals. A 3 year aftercare programme to assist with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes throughout a patient’s weight loss journey is provided by a multidisciplinary team of nutritionists, clinical behaviourists and physiotherapists.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the aftercare process or require more information from one of our specialists.

This blog is provided by in collaboration with Ramsay Health Care UK.
Please note that all copy above is © and does not reflect views opinions of Ramsay Health Care UK unless explicitly stated. This information does not replace advice from medical professionals.

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