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Life After 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

Because bariatric surgery permanently changes your gastrointestinal tract, you will have to make permanent changes in your eating habits to maintain good health and successfully lose weight after surgery. You will receive detailed education and counseling from our registered dietitians and other members of the bariatric surgery team in order to help you effectively make these changes. Your diet will progress through four stages after surgery in order to maximize your safety and tolerance of foods. 

Permanent changes you will have to make following bariatric surgery include the following:

The following are some of the generally accepted dietary guidelines for a healthy diet after bariatric surgery:

  • Eat very slowly, taking very small bites and chewing foods thoroughly.
  • Stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full.Include protein with all meals and snacks; aim for 60 to 80 grams of protein every day.
  • Choose foods and beverages with less than 14 grams of sugar and less than 5 grams of fat per serving to avoid empty calories and help prevent dumping syndrome.
  • Don't drink fluids with meals.
  • Stop drinking 30 minutes before eating and wait 30 minutes after eating before having something to drink.
  • Drinking fluids while eating will make you feel full before you have eaten enough protein, can cause vomiting and dumping syndrome, and can cause you to feel hungry sooner after a meal. 
  • Stay hydrated! Aim for 64 ounces of calorie-free, carbonation-free, and caffeine-free fluids a day. Sip fluids throughout the day in order to reach this goal.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Take vitamin and mineral supplements as recommended for your specific surgery.  Keep in mind, these supplements may not be covered by insurance, but without them you could develop micronutrient deficiencies. Eating after bariatric surgery will be much different than before, but our registered dietitians are here to support you as you make these changes.

Eating after bariatric surgery will be much different than before, but our registered dietitians are here to support you as you make these changes.

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.

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.