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Your Hospital Packing List: What to Bring and Not Bring

Paperwork and Documentation

  • Photo ID.
  • Credit card, checkbook, and/or cash.
  • List of contacts.
  • List of questions and notebook to take notes.
  • Insurance card, letter of reimbursement acceptance, or any other paperwork.
  • A list of your medications.
  • Passport or passport card
  • Visa

Bring a photo ID and any money you will need. You may not need any if you are going to a local hospital and your insurance covers your surgery. You may need a lot if you are self-pay and payment is due at the time of service. Bring money for any incidentals, such as a taxi ride home or to the airport. Bring any insurance paperwork you have if your insurance is helping to cover your surgery. Also bring a list of contacts such as family and friends that you can call if you need help. Include your doctor on the list. You or your surgeon may need to ask about medical conditions or medications that you are on.

You need to bring the proper documentation if you are going outside the country for your bariatric surgery. At the least, you need a passport or passport card, and to be on the safe side, you should be sure it expires at least 6 months after your scheduled return date. You may need a visa for some countries, although not for Mexico if you are American.


  • Slippers or socks with non-slip rubber soles or grips.
  • Loose-fitting clothes to wear home.
  • A change of underwear.

You will wear the hospital’s gown, but should bring something loose-fitting to wear when you are discharged. Be sure the waist is very loose and the outfit is easy to slip on since you will be in some pain and will not be very agile after surgery! A gown or dress can be best. Non-slip slippers or socks will let you walk around when you can without needing to put on shoes and without risking falling when you are tired and weak.

Do not take expensive clothes, tight fitting clothes, or accessories.


  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap or body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.
  • Lip balm and lotion or Vaseline.
  • Hair ties.
  • Baby wipes

Just take the basics. Keep your teeth clean, and take what you need for a shower, if you have time to take one. You might feel very dry after surgery. Lip balm can keep your lips from getting too chapped, while lotion can keep your skin moisturized. A scrunchie or elastic hair band can keep your hair out of your face if you have long hair, and baby wipes can help you freshen up without much effort.

Go light with your toiletries. Do not bother taking makeup since you will not have time to put it on, and you probably will not have the energy, either!

Electronics and Entertainment

  • Phone and charger.
  • Book or eReader with books on it.
  • Crossword puzzles or other paper or electronic games.
  • Movies.

Do not forget your charger for each device!

Time will probably pass very quickly in the hospital and you may not have a chance to get to any of your entertainment. You may also be too tired or distracted to focus on it.

Food and Drink

  • Tea bags and water enhancers.
  • Protein powders and shakes.
  • Water bottle.
  • Protein blender bottle.

Your first priority after weight loss surgery will be to stay hydrated. Water can taste funny, so you might want to pack some water enhancer powder or flavor drops. Decaffeinated herbal tea bags are easy to pack, too. Just make sure you let the tea cool before you sip it so it does not hurt your surgery scar. A water bottle and protein blender bottle can be useful for the trip home.

You do not need to take any solid food since you will not be eating it for several days to weeks after weight loss surgery.

For Your Health and Comfort

  • Pillow.
  • Medications.
  • Ear plugs and face mask.
  • CPAP machine.
  • Gas-X.
  • Throat lozenges.

A pillow on your lap can make your ride home much more comfortable. It can also help you sleep better in the hospital if you are fussy. Ask the hospital about which medications to bring, whether you should bring your own CPAP machine, and how they feel about you using GAS-X to combat your post-op flatulence.

Do Not Bring

  • Jewelry.
  • Irreplaceable keepsakes, such as photos.

A simple rule of thumb is if you do not need it and do not want to lose it, do not take it. This goes for pricey items, such as designer handbags and jewelry, and for anything irreplaceable, such as family photos.

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