Life after surgery is the where the motivation, commitment and dedication plays an important part in the long-term success of weight loss surgery. The following identifies areas that will be important for patients to follow after their procedures.
Maximizing Your Weight Loss
Success after Bariatric Surgery - LAP-BAND®, REALIZE® Band or Gastric Bypass surgery is dependent upon maintaining good eating and exercise habits after surgery. Think of the operation as a tool to help you to lose weight. To work well, the tool needs to be used appropriately. The modifications made to your gastrointestinal tract will require permanent changes in your eating habits that must be adhered to for successful weight loss. Below are general dietary guidelines, the surgeons at the New Jersey Bariatric Center will provide a more detailed dietary program post-surgery.
- Eat proteins first. Exercise regularly.
- 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.
- No Liquid Calories. Omit carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, high-fat foods and foods with high fiber content.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Limit snacking between meals.
- You will need to change your eating habits that have developed over decades. Using measuring spoons and measuring cups with each meal can help develop good habits.
Note: Post-surgery dietary guidelines will vary by surgeon. You may hear of other patients who are 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 surgeon and each type of procedure. What is most important is that you adhere strictly to your surgeon's recommended guidelines.
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 New Jersey Bariatric Center 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 work within two weeks.
Birth Control & Pregnancy
Patients should not get pregnant for 18 months after surgery. 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. Pregnancy is safe following the stabilization of weight after 18 months.
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), Vitamin B12, folate and iron levels. Follow-up tests will initially be conducted every three to six months or as needed, and then every one to two years.
Exercise on a regular basis is necessary lifestyle change after surgery. Exercise includes a sense of well being, increase overall energy, and minimizes muscle breakdown. Walking daily until you can walk thirty minutes without stopping is mandatory after surgery.
Patient Responsibilities and Expectations
Successful long-term weight loss depends on your dedication to a new lifestyle. You must commit to regular follow-up visits and support group meetings after surgery. Your rate of weight loss will vary based on your commitment to make life-changing modifications to eating and exercise routine.