Question: How long is the recovery period after surgery (when can I go back to work)?
Answer: We request that everyone allow for a two week recovery period. However, depending on the type of surgery, your recovery and your work duties, you may be able to return to work as soon as one week after surgery.
Question: Can I eat normal foods after surgery?
Answer: Yes, you can eat normal foods after surgery. It is important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet that includes lean meats, fruits, vegetables, low-fat and fat-free dairy, and whole grains. However, there may be some foods that you should avoid, such as foods high in sugar and fat. Be aware, you will not be eating all of these foods immediately after surgery.
You must go through a slow diet progression from clear liquids to full liquids to soft foods, and then back to regular consistency foods. This diet progression allows your new stomach pouch to heal and adapt. Patients are usually on liquids for two week, soft foods for two weeks, and then back to regular foods at the fourth week after surgery.
It may take gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy patients a little longer to get back to regular consistency foods, but most people get there by six to eight weeks after surgery. Our goal is to help you get back to regular or "normal" foods, just smaller amounts of them.
Question: Will I be able to eat in restaurants after surgery?
Answer: Bariatric surgery is a tool that helps you to lose weight along with lifestyle changes. Those lifestyle changes include making healthier food choices. We do not expect you to avoid eating out for the rest of your life, but please be mindful when ordering in a restaurant.
Some strategies for eating healthy when in a restaurant include choosing foods that are grilled, baked or steamed instead of sautéed, breaded and fried.
And you should always avoid the free bread and chips provided at the beginning of the meal.
Question: When can I exercise after surgery?
Answer: Post-surgery exercise will help increase your weight loss and also can help your skin retain elasticity. Therefore, you are encouraged to start walking often the day of surgery.
You should wait until your doctor gives you clearance before going back to your pre-operative exercise plan; this often happens at your first post-op visit within two weeks after surgery. Walking and water exercises are great post-surgery work-out options.
Question: Can I continue to drink alcohol after bariatric surgery?
Answer: We recommend that all patients avoid drinking alcohol for the first 12-18 months after surgery and are strongly encouraged to abstain totally.
Alcohol is empty calories, and will limit your weight loss in that precious 12-18 month period when you have the opportunity to get the maximum amount of weight off.
Additionally, due to the changed anatomy of the stomach and intestines and the alterations in digestion, alcohol absorption is much more rapid in gastric bypass patients.
This results in a higher blood alcohol level with a much quicker peak.
Question: Will I lose hair after surgery? How can I prevent it?
Answer: Many patients experience some hair loss or thinning after surgery. This usually occurs from three to seven months after surgery. Consistent intake of protein and vitamins as prescribed is the most important prevention method.
Question: What about the loose skin when I lose weight? Does insurance pay for removing it?
Answer: In general, removal of loose skin after weight loss is considered cosmetic surgery, and most insurers won't cover it. However, some insurers will pay for it if the loose skin is causing medical problems, such as severe rashes or infection. Check with your insurance carrier for details.
Question: Do I need supplements to help avoid long-term problems?
Answer: Yes, it is recommended that bariatric patients select a complete multivitamin supplement that includes at least 18 mg iron, 400 mcg folic acid, and selenium and zinc.
- Bariatric patients need to take this general multivitamin for the rest of their lives.
- Bariatric patients are also instructed to take at least 1,500 mg of calcium in the form of daily supplements.
- The vitamins and calcium supplements must be chewable for the first six weeks after surgery.
- Some patients may require additional supplements, such as iron, folic acid or Vitamin B12; your doctor will let you know if you need those.
- Bariatric patients also use protein supplements, especially in the first few months after surgery, to help meet protein needs, since the amount of food is restricted.
- After the first year or two, all bariatric patients are required to have life-long annual follow-ups and labs done to assess for nutritional deficiencies.
Question: What if I plateau in my weight loss progress?
Answer: Typical reasons for a weight loss plateau or weight regain include:
- Making high calorie food choices
- Eating past the feeling of fullness/large portions
- Drinking calorie-containing beverages
- Drinking fluids with meals
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Unaddressed emotional issues with food.
For those patients with an adjustable gastric band, lack of weight loss or weight regain may be an indication that an adjustment is needed.
We encourage frequent follow-up and can assist you in getting back on track.