Mar - Apr 2023

Hydration Lab During the Early Postop Period

By Alan Sherburne, MD


There is no doubt that staying hydrated is important for everyone, but it is especially important for those individuals who have chosen to undergo bariatric surgery. The greatest risk for dehydration is within the early postoperative period. Postoperative nausea, vomiting and dietary intolerance issues can occur and make it difficult during this initial time. In fact, dehydration is a frequent reason for readmission within 30 days after surgery. 


At the time of surgery and while you are recovering in the hospital, your fluids are closely monitored.  Most individuals who spend the night after surgery will have blood work checked the following morning, which would include labs such as basic electrolytes, BUN and creatinine. These labs, in addition to physical examination, can help the team determine if an individual is dehydrated. 


Once you leave the hospital, your physician may or may not choose to check blood work again. It is up to their clinical judgment as to whether or not rechecking labs would help prevent or catch dehydration early. If you are concerned about falling behind on fluids when you go home, you should have a discussion with your provider before leaving the hospital and come up with a plan.


Having a thorough understanding of not only the surgery itself, but also of the surgical follow-up is important and a thorough discussions with your surgical team are important. You should always feel free to ask any questions to any members of your team, including your surgeon, bariatric nurses, midlevel providers and nutritionists. They are all working to ensure you achieve the best outcome you can!


Here are few tips to help you stay hydrated:

  • Drink ample amounts of fluid throughout the day.  Drinking small amounts of liquids frequently may be best initially.
  • Use a timer to help remind you to drink frequently.
  • Keep a log or use an app to track fluid intake.
  • Watch out for signs of dehydration: nausea, lightheadedness, headaches, dark urine, fatigue and being thirsty.