Life after Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix. It’s an ongoing journey toward weight loss through lifestyle changes. After surgery, the difference in your body makes it physically easier to adjust your eating and lifestyle habits. Fortunately, you will not have to go through the process alone. A team of professionals will be there to support your efforts. Positive changes in your body, your weight, and your health will occur, but you will need to be patient through the recovery process.
Diet After Bariatric Surgery
The changes made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits that must be followed for successful weight loss in your new life after bariatric surgery. Postsurgery dietary guidelines will vary by bariatric surgeon. You may hear about postsurgery guidelines different from the ones you receive. It is important to remember that these guidelines will be different depending on the surgeon and type of procedure which can be either Lap Band, Gastric Sleeve, or Gastric Bypass surgery. What is most important is that you follow your surgeon’s guidelines. The following are some of the generally accepted dietary guidelines for a healthy diet after bariatric surgery:
- When you start eating solid food, it is important to chew your food thoroughly and eat very slowly. It is important to wait two to three minutes after swallowing before putting the next bite of food in your mouth. You will not be able to digest steaks or other chunks of meat if they are not ground or chewed thoroughly.
- Don’t drink fluids while eating. They will make you feel full before you have eaten enough food. Fluids consumed with meals can cause vomiting and dumping syndrome, and can lead to feeling hungry sooner after a meal.
- Don’t eat desserts and other items with sugar if they have more than 3 to 5 grams per serving size.
- Avoid carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, foods high in fat, and foods that have no nutritional value.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Limit snacking between meals. Eating after bariatric surgery will be much different than before!
Going Back to Work After Bariatric Surgery
Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity will vary according to your physical condition, the nature of the activity and the type of weight loss surgery you had. Most patients return to work and are able to exercise within one to three weeks after their laparoscopic gastric bypass. Patients who have had an open procedure do so about six weeks after surgery.
Birth Control and Pregnancy
It is strongly advised that women of childbearing age use the most effective forms of birth control during the first 16 to 24 months after weight loss surgery. The added demands pregnancy places on your body and the potential for fetal damage make this a most important requirement.
Long-Term Follow-Up after Bariatric Surgery
Although the short-term effects of weight loss surgery are well understood, there are still questions to be answered about the long-term effects on nutrition and body systems. Nutritional deficiencies that occur over the course of many years will need to be studied, and can depend on your diet after bariatric surgery. Over time, you will need periodic checks for anemia (low red blood cell count) and Vitamin B12, folate and iron levels. Follow-up tests will be conducted at least yearly and more often as indicated.
Life After Bariatric Surgery; Support Groups
The widespread use of support groups has provided weight loss surgery patients an excellent opportunity to discuss their various personal and professional issues. Most learn, for example, that weight loss surgery will not immediately resolve existing emotional issues or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have inflicted on their emotional well-being. Our surgeons have support groups in place to assist you with short-term and long-term questions and needs, including the most effective exercise and diets after bariatric surgery. Most bariatric surgeons who frequently perform weight loss surgery will tell you that ongoing post-surgical support helps produce the greatest level of success for their patients in their life after bariatric surgery.