Post-Bariatric Surgery Journey
- POST-OPERATIVE CARE
- MEDICAL TESTS AFTER SURGERY
- POST-OPERATIVE SCHEDULE
- NUTRITION AFTER SURGERY
- SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS
- POST-OPERATIVE FAQ
Congratulations on taking the next step of life after bariatric surgery to a happier, healthier you!
Weight Loss Surgery is not a cure for obesity; it's a tool to help you lose weight. That comes with long-term dedication to your ability to follow your diet, exercise, Bariatric supplements, and lifestyle changes. This is an exciting chapter, and following the next weeks, there will be much new information you'll need to get the most out of your Bariatric Surgery.
You will most likely be in the recovery room when you wake up from surgery. You will be taken to a monitored hospital room once your breathing and vital signs are stable, commonly taking several hours. If there are no complications and the oxygen levels in your bloods are stable, you will move to a regular hospital room the next day.
Patients commonly spend a few days in the hospital post-weight loss surgery. Your surgeon will determine when you're ready to be discharged based on your progress.
Before discharge, you'll be given Bariatric Surgery post-op care dietary and exercise instructions with precautions and information on complications that may warrant contacting your surgeon. If you have any concerns, discuss them with your Bariatric team.
When you return home, take it easy and listen to your body.
You will be healing from your life-changing surgery, and all of the guidelines are to ensure your safety.
Pain Management after Bariatric Surgery
Everyone experiences pain differently. Your experience will be highly individualised and dependent on the type of bariatric surgery you had. After waking up from surgery, you may not experience pain right away, as the numbing medications (anaesthesia) are still in your system.
The pain commonly starts when you move around in bed or get up for the first time. It may be uncomfortable to move at first; however, movement is key to a speedy and strong recovery.
Your surgeon will advise you on when and how often you should proceed immediately after your surgery.
If you are experiencing severe pain to require strong pain medication, you should speak with your surgeon to ensure that there are no complications.
Medical Tests after Bariatric Surgery
The follow up process after Bariatric Surgery is a lifelong commitment. Your blood needs to be checked regularly to ensure your micronutrient levels are maintained within the normal ranges. Blood tests need to be completed within 3, 6 and 12 months after surgery, then every year, or more often if you have a history of deficiency.
For example, if you start to feel something has changed, maybe you are more tired than you feel you should be, it's crucial to investigate early.
Catching up on nutrients that become too low is quite laborious, and your Bariatric Multivitamins are your insurance policy taken every day to prevent it.
The tests involve:
- Complete blood count to evaluate your overall health and detect many diagnoses like anaemia.
- Lipid panel to measure the amount of specific fat molecules and cholesterol.
- Comprehensive metabolic panel to assess liver function, kidney function, and nutrient levels.
- Hemoglobin A1c to calculate your average blood sugar levels.
Post-Operative Follow Up Schedule
Bariatric patients' follow up visits are necessary to help check your weight, screen for nutritional deficiencies and complications in the early stages of your journey to provide the proper treatment. If patients miss regularly scheduled follow up visits and post-surgery blood tests, they may eventually develop nutritional deficiencies.
Follow up after Bariatric Surgery includes having regular blood tests and receiving support such as:
Dietary changes in what you eat and how much you eat
Taking specific Bariatric vitamins and supplements
Taking care of your mental and emotional health
Attaining healthy habits through your journey
How often will I have to follow up appointments?
After Bariatric Surgery, all patients will have to follow up regularly with their surgical and support team. The following is a guide only - and your team will make recommendations that are personalised for your situation. You must complete the ongoing follow up as a priority.
The research on the success of the surgery indicates that those who stick with their dietitian, have regular blood tests, take their daily Bariatric Multivitamin have a greater success rate and experience less regain as time goes on.
Follow up will continue depending on your needs, and your Bariatric team will decide how often you need to have follow up appointments. And which professional they would be most beneficial to be with.
For example, when hunger returns or you exercise more, you would need your dietitians' advice. Still, if you are having trouble with your relationship with yourself and food, you would be more likely to see your psychologist and dietitian in concert. A holistic approach to care is another critical player in your long-term success.
Nutrition after Bariatric Surgery
The nutritional requirements after Bariatric Surgery consist of four stages. Your dietitian will determine how long each stage lasts and what you can eat and drink. All stages emphasise the importance of controlling your portions.
When well established, the habit will help with weight loss and prepare you for how you'll eat for the rest of your life.
Your surgeon, dietitian and psychologist will support you throughout your Post-Bariatric Surgery diet plan.
Stage 1: Liquid Diet
Comprises of liquids only for the first 1-2 weeks after surgery, as it helps your stomach heal without being challenged by roughage and food.
Stage 2: Puree Diet
For the next 2-4 weeks after surgery, you'll consist of puréed foods with a pudding-like consistency.
Choose foods that liquefy well, such as:
Stage 3: Soft Food Diet
Your surgeon or dietitian will determine if you are ready to start building soft, easy-to-digest foods into your diet for about 1 month after Bariatric Surgery. It’s essential to eat small bites, chew thoroughly and follow the guidelines given by your team for the timing of the meal.
Practice good portion control!
Suggested food ideas for your soft food diet
Stage 4: Solid Food Diet
After 6-8 weeks after surgery, you will be excited about the reintroduction of solid food. As your stomach is much smaller now, you'll still need to dice your food into small bites. Large pieces of food may cause a blockage, leading to pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Support Group Meetings
At BN Healthy, we understand that breaking your old habits and creating many new healthy habits is not easy.
This is why support groups are crucial to your weight loss journey.
Having support after Bariatric Surgery can help you with the following:
Acceptance and Understanding
Going through a life-changing experience is not easy, especially one that impacts every aspect of your life. Having people who know exactly what you're going through helps a lot.
Weight Loss Surgery support groups are not only about experiences and exchanging information. It's also about emotional support and sharing what you've learned through each stage.
Ongoing Educational Support
Bariatric Surgery support groups provide ongoing education support through diet, exercise, supplements, mental and physical habit changes.
You will gain a lot from other patients who have been there and done that. Learning what to expect in each journey stage can help ease your anxiety and worries.
Motivation and Inspiration
Listening to people's WLS transformation stories can be a source of motivation and inspiration. You can learn about their struggles and wins that can offer you support, tips to stay on track and what to do when you fall off the wagon.
Post-Operative Bariatric Surgery Frequently Asked Questions
When can I start exercising after Bariatric Surgery?
You will take easy, short walks while in the hospital soon after your operation. This helps with the gas used during the surgery and is an important part of your healing process. The key is to start slow and listen to your body and surgeon.
Will I have to exercise after Bariatric Surgery?
Yes, to experience the best life after Bariatric Surgery and keep the weight off - you will need a consistent exercise regime to maximise your health gains.
After surgery, there are three key areas you should focus on when exercising:
Will I feel hungry or deprived after Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric Surgery reduces the size of your stomach and adjusts your hunger hormones for some time. When following your Bariatric diet, you should feel full and not deprived by eating a portion-sized, high protein meal and chewing your food slowly.
Can I eat anything in moderation after Weight Loss Surgery?
After you are in the solid food stage, you may eat most foods that do not cause you discomfort. Although, it's crucial to include high in protein, vitamins and nutrients foods in your meals, such as those recommended by your surgeon and dietitian.
The impact of the weight loss procedure may be significantly reduced if your diet reverts to being high in processed foods, sugary treats and more carbohydrates than protein. The surgery is your "tool"; it will all depend on how you learn to use it.
What are the diet guidelines after Bariatric Surgery?
There are four stages to the Bariatric diet guidelines:
Stage 1: Liquid diet, generally for the first 1-2 weeks after surgery - drinking liquids such as meal replacements, protein shakes and water.
Stage 2: Puree diet from about 2-4 weeks after surgery - eating foods like yoghurt, mashed veggies and soups.
Stage 3: Soft food diet from about 4-6 weeks after surgery - eating scrambled eggs, chopped white meat and cooked veggies.
Stage 4: Solid food diet from 6-8 weeks after surgery - mainly introducing lean meats, beans, vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy products.
The time to progress from one stage to the next differs between individuals. It's crucial to listen to your surgeon and dietitian and not rush to move on before you are ready.
Can I experience weight regain after Bariatric Surgery?
Yes, a few bariatric patients can regain their weight, but the majority lose significant weight and keep it off by staying consistent with their diet, exercise, and supplements. More than 95% of patients will successfully lose half of their extra body weight or more after surgery for weight loss.*
Herman KM, Carver TE, Christou NV, Andersen RE. Keeping the weight off: Physical activity, sitting time, and weight loss maintenance in bariatric surgery patients 2 to 16 years postsurgery. Obesity Surgery. 2014;24(7):1064-72.
Will I lose my hair after Weight Loss Surgery?
Hair loss after Bariatric Surgery is common between three to six months but is almost always temporary. It's a common side effect of the procedure due to your body's many different adaptations to the surgery (or the shock to the system). Hair loss that prevails longer than the initial six months is likely due to the lower intake and reduced absorption of Protein, Iron, Biotin, Zinc, Vitamin B12, and healthy fats.
A specific Bariatric nutrient formula (when taken as directed every day) can promote healthy hair, skin and nails, preventing hair loss or stopping it from continuing.
When can I go back to work after Weight Loss Surgery?
Your surgeon will be best equipped to determine your return to work date as they know what procedure you had, your recovery status, and any related health problems you have. However, most patients without any complications return to work one or two weeks after their surgery; this can also depend on the type of work you do every day.
Will I need to get plastic surgery after Weight Loss Surgery?
Getting plastic surgery is a personal choice. Some patients may choose to have plastic surgery to remove loose skin after Weight Loss Surgery. Generally, loose skin is well-hidden by compression garments. Many patients wear shapewear garments, which can be found in our shapewear range.
VITAMINS AND MEDICATIONS
Will I have to take vitamins after Bariatric Surgery?
Yes, you will need to take a specific Bariatric Multivitamin every day for life - the surgery profoundly affects how your body absorbs some nutrients. You have a much smaller capacity for food overall, but many nutrients cannot behave in the same way as before surgery. Supplementation with specialty vitamins and minerals will protect you from long-term deficiency.
Depending on your regular blood tests, you may need higher doses of specific stand-alone vitamins or minerals, especially B12, Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D.
Why do I need a Bariatric formulated Multivitamin after surgery?
Standard off the shelf or chemist vitamin brands are designed to meet the nutritional needs of the general population. As a Bariatric patient, your body requires a much higher level of micronutrients that off the shelf brands will not meet, even if you take extra servings.
Bariatric formulated multivitamins like our BN Multivitamins allow your body to function to its full potential help prevent malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, and the impacts on your health if left unchecked.
What nutrition deficiencies can I develop if I don't take my Bariatric Multivitamins?
Weight Loss Surgery changes the absorption of vitamins and minerals in your body. Nutritional deficiencies in protein, vitamins and minerals can negatively affect your health, such as:
- Nutritionally related hair loss
- Low immunity
- Bone and muscle loss
- Loss of nerve function (involving your senses such as taste, smell and touch)
Some of these problems may cause irreversible impacts on your nervous system and brain, so you must supplement every day and have your blood checked regularly.
Luckily, nutrient deficiencies following Bariatric Surgery can be simply preventable with a broad and healthful diet and taking specific Bariatric supplements of vitamins, minerals and protein. These healthy problems commonly occur in patients who do not regularly check their blood work. Be sure you stay in touch with your Bariatric team for the best results!
When can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
After bariatric surgery, your body experiences significant changes and nutrient disruptions, which can cause issues for a developing baby. Women who have had weight loss surgery should wait 12-18 months before getting pregnant. You will reach a stable weight to reduce the possibility of maternal and fetal malnutrition, providing your baby with essential nutrients for healthy development and a healthy life overall.
More research shows that the mother's health whilst pregnant leaves a large imprint on the child's health, right throughout their lifespan.
Am I able to breastfeed after Weight Loss Surgery?
Breastfeeding is still a possibility after bariatric surgery; however, if you have insufficient nutrients levels in your body, your breast milk will lack essential nutrients for the baby. Nature's way of building healthy babies is to give whatever the baby needs to thrive - at the cost of the mother's health if there isn't enough to go around. Ask your doctor to check your bloodwork to ensure you are absorbing essential nutrients, including Vitamin B12, Iron, and Protein.