Returning to work after surgery

Last updated on Wed, 14th Sep 2022

The amount of time off work needed after bariatric surgery seems to vary quite a lot. Some people take only a week off work, and others take 3-4 weeks, and some as long as 6-7 weeks!

It probably depends a lot upon the type of work that a person does. Those with sedentary desk jobs – and particularly those that are currently working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic – may only need a short time. Whereas those that have physically demanding jobs may need significantly longer before they are strong enough to return to work.

The recovery time in terms of pain can be quite quick. I was off the pain medication within 4 days, and able to sit quite comfortably. So in theory I could have been back within a week.

However the post-surgery recovery is not just about the pain from the surgery. It’s about the body trying to adapt to its new much-smaller stomach. The post-operative diets are pretty restrictive, and lots of people struggle to get to grips with their new way of eating. As such many people suffer from:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Abnormal bowel habits
  • Flatulence

It can take time to get used to some of these things, and to feel physically strong enough to work again.

It’s also important not to forget about also the psychological and emotional side of what’s happened. Having surgery is a big event in people’s lives, and it can have a profound effect of their recovery. There may be all kinds of repressed feelings that will need to be worked through. And that’s just as important a part of the healing process as any physical symptoms.

Originally I planned to take 4 weeks off work after surgery, and my employer was being very good at supporting this time off. However I found that I was ready to go back to work after only 3 weeks. I could have even gone back sooner, but I think it was important to take the time to rest and recharge.

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