Hospital team

It’s normal to feel nervous and overwhelmed when you’re preparing for bariatric surgery. To become more at ease, start to pack essentials for the hospital in advance — and prepare for the first few weeks at home.

Here’s a checklist of the must-haves to pack and stock up on before your surgery.

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Things to Buy When Preparing for Bariatric Surgery

Although you’ll be up and walking shortly after bariatric surgery, you won’t feel like going into the supermarket or pharmacy. That’s why it’s a good idea to stock up on foods, supplements, vitamins, and any medicines your doctor recommends.

For the first two weeks after weight loss surgery, you’ll follow a liquid diet. Clear broth is a good option, so consider buying a well-insulated sports bottle to keep it hot for a longer time.

Stock up on a variety of foods and beverages for both a clear and limited full liquid diet. You’ll want foods that are hydrating and low in sugar and fat, so they won’t bother your stomach. You may be surprised by your range of options, since a liquid diet means any foods that aren’t solid at room temperature.

Good choices include:

  • A variety of clear broths (chicken, beef, vegetable).
  • Zero calorie sports drinks. Look for beverages with 10 or fewer calories per 8 oz.
  • Sugar-free fruit drinks. Look for beverages with 10 or fewer calories per 8 oz.
  • Sugar-free popsicles and gelatins.
  • Skim (fat free) milk, unsweetened soy milk, and your favorite protein powder.
  • Protein shakes that are 200 or fewer calories, contain at least 20 grams of protein, and have 10 or fewer grams of carbohydrates.
  • Fat-free yogurt with no added sugar (avoid those with chunks of fruit or mix-ins). Greek and Skyr yogurt will have the highest protein content.

While you’re at the supermarket, pick up a few very soft foods. Your doctor will let you know when to add these to your diet. Some of these foods are nonperishable and convenient to have on hand if you don’t feel like shopping:

  • Eggs.
  • Canned chicken and tuna.
  • Low fat or fat free ricotta or cottage cheese.

Don’t forget to ask your health care provider for a list of recommended vitamins and any other supplements. Also, review any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you take or might need while recovering. Ask if you’ll need a liquid form, and make sure to order and restock refills before your surgery.

What to Pack for the Hospital

Most people only stay in the hospital for 1 to 3 days. Even though it’s a short time, bringing along some personal items can make you feel more comfortable. It’s helpful to start packing your bag early. You can always add things as the day gets closer.

When preparing for bariatric surgery, you might find these items nice to have at the hospital:

  • A comfortable, zip-up sweatshirt in case you’re cold, and elastic waist or loose-fitting sweatpants to wear going home.
  • Slippers, flip flops, or socks with grippers to walk around after your surgery.
  • A loose pair of gym shorts to wear under your hospital gown while walking.
  • Lip balm and a small bottle of mouthwash to soothe dry lips and refresh your mouth. Dry mouth is common because you can’t eat or drink for a while before and after surgery.
  • An eye mask and earplugs to block out noise and light when you’re sleeping. Hospitals never sleep!
  • Headphones, a phone charger, and your phone. Download some relaxing music, a meditation app, or your favorite podcasts.
  • Your CPAP machine, hearing aids, eyeglasses, and any medical devices you use.
  • Your insurance card and identification. Leave money, jewelry, and other valuables home.

Be sure to take advantage of UPMC’s bariatric support groups before and after your surgery. It’s a great place to find support and connect with others to share experiences and helpful information. Being better prepared will help ease your mind.

About UPMC Bariatric Services

UPMC Bariatric Services is here to help if you’re struggling with obesity and want to lose weight. We offer both surgical and non-surgical weight loss plans and can help you find the right path for a weight loss journey. We offer our services at UPMC locations throughout western Pennsylvania and New York. We hold accreditation from the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, the highest standard in the country.