Life After Bariatric Surgery
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Regardless of the surgical procedure you have, your life after surgery will be drastically different than before. What, when and how you eat will change; your level of activity will change; your social interactions will change; your health will change. Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong lifestyle change; it is not a quick fix then go back to 'normal.'
Recovering from Surgery
Minimally invasive procedures are performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. You can expect to be in the hospital for at least one night, possibly more depending on the procedure and your overall health. You will be up and walking within a few hours of waking up from the procedure; this is important to minimize swelling and get you accustomed to moving. We will send you home with detailed post-operative instructions and will schedule a follow-up appointment for you before you leave the hospital. Most patients are able to return to work within 2 weeks.
You will start your new diet regimen immediately. You will follow a liquid diet for a period of weeks, and gradually adding in pureed and then more solid foods. Your diet regimen will include protein shakes and multivitamins and will start while you are still in the hospital. You will also begin to follow a light exercise program almost immediately.
Your successful weight loss is important to us and our participation in your life is a long term commitment. We will continue to monitor your progress with regular appointments so that we can help keep you on track and make any tweaks necessary to your diet or exercise regimens.
Post-Surgical Diet and Exercise Regimen
Your new eating regimen will begin while you are still in the hospital after your surgery. You will start with a liquid diet and protein supplements for the first few weeks and gradually introduce more solid food. The liquid diet with protein supplementation helps you receive appropriate amounts of nutrition while allowing your stomach to heal after the surgery. As your stomach heals, you can begin to introduce pureed foods followed by soft foods and ultimately small quantities of regular foods.
We will give you a nutrition guide for the specific procedure you undergo that describes in detail what you can consume, in what quantities and in what timeframes. The guide will also show information about reading food labels, choosing your protein supplements and making healthy food choices.
Your post-surgical regimen will include a liquid protein supplement for the rest of your life. Protein is an essential building block of muscle in your body and a natural way to minimize feelings of hunger; people who consume significant amounts of protein feel fuller faster and longer than those who consume large amounts of simple carbohydrates. Because you will be eating less food, it is important to maintain sufficient protein consumption, and liquid protein drinks is the easiest way to accomplish that.
In addition to following the nutrition guidelines, we want you to understand how important moderate exercise is for your weight loss and your ongoing health. Most patients start with walking and light stretching and add in some light weight training and other aerobic exercise over time. As you lose weight, doing exercise becomes easier and your health – especially your heart health – continues to improve.
It is important to remember that this is not a diet or an exercise plan; it has to become your way of life for the rest of your life. Maintaining the food choices and exercise programs dictated will ensure you lose all the weight you need to lose and that you don't regain it by overindulging. Yes, it is possible to regain weight after the surgery and re-stretch your stomach to hold more food. Adhering to the nutritional guidelines for the rest of your life will help you keep the weight off and help maintain the health improvements that the weight loss achieves.
Body Contouring Surgery
Significant and rapid weight loss often leaves the patient with excess skin around the waist, legs, buttocks, breasts, even arms. Body Contouring surgery is an option for those patients to improve comfort, function and appearance. UM Capital Region Health can refer you to board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who specialize in body contouring and skin removal surgery to help patients look their best after losing massive amounts of weight. Because the body contouring surgery is related to bariatric surgery, it is generally covered by insurance.
Your success in your weight loss journey is very important to us. We know how hard it is to be vigilant about maintaining the very difficult diet and exercise regimen that is required to successfully lose the weight and keep it off, especially after bariatric surgery. After the surgery and after you start losing weight, you will feel better about yourself and will want to re-engage with friends and family. Such socialization often revolves around food, and you have to maintain that vigilance while being presented with many food options, some of which will now actually make you ill.
To help you stay on track we offer a regular support group where you can meet, talk and share with other bariatric surgery patients who know EXACTLY what you are going through and feeling. The support group provides a forum to share your experiences – both good and challenging – around how you stick to the diet plan, how you manage newly re-defined social and romantic engagements, how you recognize and process the intense emotions that may crop up around food and stress and much more. This group of people can become your resource for tips and tools as well as your support to navigate this new world and lifestyle.
Call the office or check the events calendar at umcapital.org to see the dates and time of the support group.