Life after surgery

Pretty young woman with arms raised

Bariatric surgery is an effective treatment for obesity and related diseases. But you have to do your part, too. Understanding and actively engaging in a lifestyle that supports achieving and maintaining a healthier weight is vital for success. Staying connected with your bariatric team is just as important.

Diet:

The modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits that must be adhered to for successful weight loss. Postsurgery dietary guidelines will vary by surgeon. You may hear of other patients who are given different guidelines following their bariatric surgery. It is important to remember that every surgeon does not perform the same bariatric surgery procedure and that the dietary guidelines will be different for each surgeon and each type of procedure. What is most important is that you adhere strictly to your surgeon’s recommended guidelines.

The following are some of the generally accepted dietary guidelines a bariatric surgery patientmay encounter:

  • When eating solid food, it is essential that you chew thoroughly. You will not be able to eat chunks of meat if they are not ground or chewed thoroughly.

  • Do not drink fluids while eating.

  • Omit desserts and other items with sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients.

  • Omit carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, high-fat foods and foods with high fiber content.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Limit snacking between meals.

Going back to work:

Your ability to resume presurgery levels of activity will vary according to your physical condition, the nature of the activity and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many patients return to full presurgery levels of activity within 6 weeks of their procedure. Patients who have had a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure may be able to return to these activities within a few weeks.

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 bariatric 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:

Although the short-term effects of bariatric surgery are well understood, there are still questions to be answered about the longer-term effects on nutrition and body systems.

Nutritional deficiencies that occur over the course of many years will need to be monitored. 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 initially be conducted every 3 to 6 months or as needed and then every 1 to 2 years. Follow-up care is recommended for life.

Support groups:

The widespread use of support groups has provided bariatric surgery patients with an excellent opportunity to discuss their various personal or other issues. Most learn, for example, that bariatric surgery will not immediately resolve existing emotional issues or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have had on their emotional well-being.

Most surgeons have support groups in place to assist you with short-term and long-term questions and needs. Bariatric surgeons who frequently perform bariatric surgery will tell you that ongoing postsurgical support helps produce the greatest level of success for their patients.

 

# # # #