Life After Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a life-changing event for patients. Below are several things you might have questions about following surgery:
The modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits that must be adhered to for successful weight loss. Post-surgery dietary guidelines will vary by patients and surgeon. You may hear of other patients who are given different guidelines following their weight loss surgery.
It is important to remember that every surgeon does not perform the exact same weight loss 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 weight loss surgery patient may encounter:
- When you start eating solid food it is essential that you chew thoroughly. You will not be able to eat 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 consumed enough food.
- 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 high-fiber foods.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Limit snacking between meals.
Going Back to Work
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. Many patients return to full pre-surgery levels of activity within six 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 required 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 critical requirement. If you do become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, notify your bariatric surgeon or obstetrician right away.
Long-Term Follow Up
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. Over time, you will need periodic checks for anemia (low red blood cell count), B12, folate and iron levels. Follow-up tests will initially be conducted every three to six months or as needed, and then every year for your lifetime.
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. Most surgeons have support groups in place to assist you with short-term and long-term questions and needs. 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.