Life After Surgery

During both types of obesity surgery the size of the stomach is reduced to the size of an egg or even the size of a thumb. Typically, its capacity is 3-4 tablespoons of food. This stomach reduction drastically reduces the quantity of food which can be consumed in one sitting. During bypass surgery the digestive tract below the stomach is also altered. After leaving the small stomach pouch, food is re-routed to bypass some of the small intestine. Because the food passes along a much shorter length of small intestine, and comes into contact with smaller amounts of digestive enzymes, fewer calories and nutrients are absorbed.

The modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits. You may hear of other patients being 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 type of procedure. What is most important is that you strictly adhere 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 foods with high fiber content.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit snacking between meals.

For specific menu plans you may view/download our (stage 3) post-operative menu plans PDF Icon

Maintaining good eating and exercise habits is essential for long-term success after weight loss surgery. Ongoing postoperative support is an essential component of our program. We offer the following types of ongoing support to help you stay motivated and on track with your weight loss:

Physician Follow-up

You will be scheduled to see the doctor frequently while you are losing weight. LAP-BAND@reg; patients are seen at 26 week intervals, and gastric bypass patients are seen at 1/3/6 weeks, 3/6/9/12 months and then yearly.

Dietitian Follow-up

During your physician follow-up appointments you can also see our dietitian who will assess your eating habits and help you to stay on the right track. If you have dietary related questions feel free to call the office at any time and ask to speak to the Registered Dietitian.

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. Together you and your surgeon will determine the best course for you.

Birth Control & Pregnancy

It is strongly advised 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 most important requirement.

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) and Vitamin B12, folate and iron levels. Follow-up visits will initially be scheduled every three to six months and/or as needed, and then every one to two years.

Support Groups

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 programs 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.

To see list of local support groups and when and where each meets go to our Local Support Groups page.