For people who have spent years living with morbid obesity, bariatric surgery can transform their lives. However, it’s important to be prepared for all aspects of the weight loss program. Surgery changes your body by creating a smaller stomach pouch. Learn more about the different types of bariatric procedures.
A typical comprehensive bariatric program will consist of a combination of the following healthcare professionals: a program coordinator, psychologist, dietitian, exercise physiologist, and other healthcare professionals. Each expert is dedicated to providing support for bariatric patients both before and after surgery. Check with your program to find out about support groups that can be helpful in adjusting to new daily habits.
Most doctors recommend that women wait at least one year after the surgery before a pregnancy. Approximately one year postoperatively, your body should be fairly stable (from a weight and nutrition standpoint), and you should be able to carry a normally nourished fetus. Consult your surgeon as you plan for pregnancy.
Many people think bariatric surgery will be followed by a long and painful recovery period. However, most patients report experiencing only discomfort and soreness rather than pain. Recovery does, however, vary from patient to patient. Click here for more information about recovering from bariatric surgery.
As with any major surgery, there will be a recovery period. Remember that this is a necessary step, and the better care you take during recovery, the more quickly you’ll return to normal activity.
Recovery time varies from patient to patient.
- One study found laparoscopic gastric bypass patients spent an average of two days in the hospital and were able to return to work after 21 days.
For people suffering from morbid obesity, bariatric surgery can be a powerful tool. For the surgery to be effective long term, it must be used properly. Through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and a healthy food plan, many patients are able to make a long-term change for better health.
Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix. It’s an ongoing journey toward transforming your health through lifestyle changes. After surgery, you will feel satisfied and fuller with less food. Positive changes in your body, your weight, and your health will occur, if you maintain the diet and exercise routines recommended by your bariatric program.
After the initial recovery period, most patients are instructed to eat 1/4 cup, or 2 ounces, of food per meal. As time goes on, you can eat more (as instructed by your medical team). Most people can eat approximately 1 cup of food per meal (with 4 ounces of protein) a year or more post-surgery.
Your ability to resume presurgery levels of activity depends on your physical condition, the nature of the activity, and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many patients return to normal levels of activity within three to six weeks of surgery.
Exercise is an important part of success after surgery. You may be encouraged to begin exercising, limited only by discomfort, about two weeks after surgery. The type of exercise depends on your overall condition, but the long-term goal is to get 30 minutes of exercise three or more days each week.
Most pills or capsules are small enough to pass through the new stomach pouch. At first, your doctor may suggest that medications be taken in crushed or liquid form. As a general rule, ask your surgeon before taking any medication.
Eating simple sugars (such as sugar, honey, and corn syrup) or high-fat foods can cause dumping syndrome in patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. This occurs when these products, which have a small particle size, are “dumped” from the stomach into the intestine at a rapid rate. Water is pulled into the intestine from the bloodstream to dilute the sugar load. This flush of water causes symptoms that can include diarrhea, rapid heart rate, hot flashes or sweating and clammy skin, and dizziness.
Band patients need to work with their surgeons to have their band adjusted several times during the first 12 to 18 months after surgery. Bypass patients typically see their surgeons for three to five follow-up appointments the first year, then once per year thereafter. Over time, gastric bypass patients will need regular checks for anemia (low red blood cell count) and vitamin B12, folate, and iron levels.
Support groups give patients an excellent opportunity to talk about personal issues. Most patients learn, for example, that bariatric surgery will not resolve personal relationship issues. Most bariatric surgeons who frequently perform bariatric surgery will tell you that ongoing support after surgery helps to achieve the greatest level of success for their patients. Patients help keep each other motivated, celebrate small victories together, and provide perspective on the everyday successes and challenges that patients generally experience.