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.
Here's what you might expect:
- First visit: scheduled 1-2 weeks after surgery.
- Second visit: scheduled 4-6 weeks after surgery, moving forward to a more solid diet.
- Quarterly visits: scheduled at approximately three month intervals for the first year after surgery.
- Biannual visits: scheduled at 6-12 month breaks after the first year.
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.
|Additional types of liquid include|
|Thin soup and broth|
|Sugar-free gelatin and ice pops|
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:
|White fish (cod & tilapia)||Green beans||Bananas|
|Poached white meat |
(chicken breast & turkey breast)
|Slow cooked beef||Pears|
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
|Protein Sources||Grains / Starches||Fruit / Vegetables|
|All fish and shellfish||Unsweetened cereals softened in skim milk||Canned fruit (in own juices or water-packed)|
|Chopped white meat (chicken breast & turkey breast)||Baked potatoes, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin||Soft, fresh fruit without skins (apples, pears, peaches)|
|Low fat deli lunchmeats||Boiled pasta, noodles, or white rice||Bananas|
|Sliced / grated low-fat cheese||Cooked or canned vegetables|
|Hard-boiled / poached eggs|
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.
|Consume three balanced meals each day containing nutrient-rich foods, such as|
|Lean meat, poultry, pork, and fish|
|Low-fat dairy products|
|Low-fat starches and whole grains|
|Vegetables and fruits|
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.