10 Apr What to Expect After Bariatric Surgery
If you’ve been struggling with weight loss, we understand. And if you’re looking for a way to help speed up the process and provide your body with a fighting chance of becoming healthier, bariatric surgery could be an option for you. In this article, we’re going to discuss what you can expect after bariatric surgery – from recovery times and weight loss expectations to lifetime commitments.
What Is Bariatric Surgery?
We’ve already covered the basics of this in our Bariatric Surgery 101 Pocket Guide article. But for the sake of being thorough, we’ll provide a brief explanation here, too. Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, is a surgical procedure that makes changes to a patient’s digestive system in order to help them lose weight. The people who qualify for bariatric surgery tend to be 100 pounds overweight, have a BMI of over 40, have an obesity-related illness like type II diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension, etc., and who have also not been able to lose weight in supervised attempts for at least six months.
The different types of bariatric surgeries can limit how much food you can ingest, reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients or both.
What to Expect After Bariatric Surgery
Amongst other things, you can expect an amazing change regarding life quality. According to WebMD, “almost all people who get weight loss surgery — 95% — say their quality of life improves”. This is because most of their obesity-related illnesses improve, including heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, and more.
While weight loss surgery can help you feel and look better, it’s important to keep in mind that your health comes first. That’s also why frequent medical checkups to monitor your overall health, which may include lab tests, blood work, and other exams, are necessary after bariatric surgery. But in a nutshell, weight loss surgery can help you improve your body’s ability to perform daily activities, which can have a positive impact on your happiness and life quality.
How Much Weight Can Be Lost?
The short answer is A LOT. People who have undergone bariatric surgery can expect to lose around 60% of their extra weight. This means amazing news for those who had other complications, like diabetes or sleep apnea. So what to expect after bariatric surgery? A huge amount of weight lost, that’s for sure.
Surgery is still surgery, even if it is robotic instead of laparoscopic. But your body will need time to recover. Most people remain in the hospital for around 2-3 days and can head home afterward to continue the recovery process, which can last anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks depending on the individual.
Diet plays a key role in both the recovery process and the lifestyle habits for a successful bariatric surgery. Mayo Clinic states that right after the procedure, “you generally won’t be allowed to eat for one to two days so that your stomach and digestive system can heal.” Immediately after, this period, you will have to stick to a liquids-only diet. After that, you can move on to purées and soft foods, eventually progressing to normality. Depending on what your dietitian and doctor decide, you may have restrictions on which foods you can eat and drink, as well as the overall quantities.
And this dieting will remain with you for life. Think of it as a new way of living and enjoying life, one bite at a time. Also, one key thing is that your body won’t be able to absorb nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin D as well as it did before. Speak to your doctor to determine if you should be taking any supplements in order to avoid malnutrition.
Your body needs to move. A big part of any successful bariatric surgery procedure depends on your ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, which includes a health-conscious diet and exercise. Once your surgeon gives you leave to exercise, you can start with light walks. Once you’re used to it, you can change to other activities that amount to 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day. Bear in mind that you also won’t be able to lift heavy objects for a while – at least until you’re fully healed and your doctor says it’s ok for you to do so.
But the good news is – exercise after weight loss surgery is that it will be easier to do (no more extra pressure on the joints) as well as helping you keep the weight off by burning calories!
Smoking & Alcohol
If you like smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages, we’re sad to say that you will have to say goodbye to both. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, “nicotine use worsens the body’s ability to heal from surgery, and puts patients at risk for heart attack, pneumonia, and blood clots immediately after surgery.” Added to that, drinking alcohol after weight loss surgery can have very serious consequences because alcohol “is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream after surgery”, which means that bariatric surgery patients will have higher levels of alcohol for longer periods of time, which can lead to an increased risk of alcoholism.
Possible Side Effects
Yes. Weight loss surgery can have several side effects (both short and long-term), which may include:
- Dumping syndrome
- Sagging skin
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Acid reflux
- Loss of appetite
- Gas pain & flatulence
- Emotional ups and downs
Serious side effects, like bleeding in the stool or even blood clots, are possible as well. Remember to always contact your doctor and keep a close eye on any symptoms you may be experiencing.
Summing It Up
So what can you expect after bariatric surgery? Well, weight loss surgery can help you reach a healthier lifestyle, make your fitness goals more accessible, and aid in the recovery of obesity-related illnesses. And while it’s proven to yield great results, it’s also a process that requires a lifetime commitment from every patient, so be prepared to be in it for the long run. It’s about your health, after all. Find out more about our robotic bariatric surgery processes or contact us to find out if bariatric surgery is right for you.