Recovery takes effort. The diet is strict. Your body is trying to heal. Your weight is beginning to adjust. The recovery stage of the process becomes easier once you start to see positive changes. The timing varies by patient. Some patients begin to lose pounds within days of their surgery. For others, a couple of months go by before they see noticeable weight loss. With courage and a circle of support, you will make it through recovery and start to do things like never before.
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Although the steps for recovery are different for everyone, here are some common examples:
Bariatric patients may hear the following, but again, following your doctor's specific orders is always best:
When you are losing weight, there are many waste products to eliminate, mostly in the urine. Some of these substances tend to form crystals, which can cause kidney stones. A high water intake protects you and helps your body rid itself of waste efficiently, promoting better weight loss. Water also fills your stomach and helps create a feeling of fullness. If you feel a desire to eat between meals, it may be because you did not drink enough water in the hour before.
Eating simple sugars (such as sugar, honey, and corn syrup), high-fat foods, or other small-particle foods can cause dumping syndrome in those patients who have had gastric bypass surgery. This occurs when these products, which have a small particle size, are “dumped” from the stomach into the intestine at a rapid rate. Water then is pulled into the intestine from the bloodstream to dilute the sugar load. This flush of water causes symptoms that can include diarrhea, rapid heart rate, hot flashes or sweating and clammy skin, dizziness, or the feeling of needing to lie down. Some individuals experience some or all of these symptoms after eating more than 3 to 5 grams of sugar, alcohol sugar, or greasy foods, while others can handle greater amounts.
It's normal not to have an appetite for the first four to six months after bariatric surgery. Continue to drink liquids, and contact your bariatric surgeon or primary care physician if you are having trouble eating two to three meals a day.
Most pills or capsules are small enough to pass through the new stomach pouch. At first, your doctor may suggest that medications be taken in crushed or liquid form. As a general rule, ask your surgeon before taking whole pills/capsules if they are bigger than a small peanut. Some liquid medications (sorbitol, maltitol, xylitol) may cause dumping syndrome because of their excessive alcohol sugar content.
Most bariatric surgeons recommend a period of four weeks or more without solid foods after bariatric surgery. A liquid diet, followed by semisolid foods, may be recommended for a period of time until necessary healing has occurred. Your surgeon will provide you with specific dietary guidelines.
Best choices include eggs, low-fat cheese, low-fat cottage cheese, tofu, fish, other seafood, chicken (dark meat), turkey (dark meat), lean ground beef, canned low-fat meats (tuna or canned white chicken), and thinly sliced deli meats.
Most experts suggest 30 to 65 grams of protein a day. Check with your surgeon to find the right amount for your type of surgery. Too much protein is not beneficial, as it is used as a calorie source instead of protein for the body. Not having enough protein will result in fatigue. Without protein supplements, the average protein intake is 20 to 30 grams a day from regular food alone. Some programs recommend protein supplements, while other programs do not.
Most patients are able to enjoy spicy foods after the first six months following surgery.
Surgeons provide patients with materials that clearly will describe a suggested diet and dietary expectations. After surgery, health and weight loss depend on following these guidelines. You must do your part by limiting high-calorie foods, avoiding sugar, snacks, and fats, and strictly following the diet set by your surgeon.
When you have bariatric surgery , you lose weight as the amount of food energy (calories) you can eat becomes much less than your body needs. Your body has to make up the difference by burning unused fat or muscle tissue. Your body will tend to burn any unused muscle before it begins to burn the fat it has saved up. Without daily exercise, your body will burn unused muscle, and you will lose muscle mass and strength. Daily aerobic exercise for 20 minutes will tell your body to use your muscles and force it to burn the fat.
Exercise is an important part of success after surgery. Exercise actually begins on the afternoon of bariatric surgery––the patient must be out of bed and walking. The goal is to walk further every day after that, including the first few weeks at home. You may be encouraged to begin exercising, limited only by discomfort, about two weeks after surgery. The type of exercise depends on your overall condition. Some patients who have severe knee problems can't walk well, but may be able to swim or bicycle. Many patients begin with low-stress forms of exercise and move on to more demanding activity when they are able.
Both men and women generally respond well to this surgery. In general, men lose weight slightly faster than women do.
Personal nutrition counseling after surgery is available as needed or as required by your physician.
Although weight loss operations such as the sleeve gastrectomy do not alter your ability to absorb vitamins and nutrients, you will need to supplement with vitamins early on as you get used to your new diet. We will follow your weight loss progress as well as monitor your vitamin and nutritional levels closely.
To ensure success, we recommend that you see us every three months for the first year and twice a year after that.
Support groups give patients an excellent chance to talk about personal and professional issues. Most patients learn, for example, that bariatric surgery will not fix existing emotional issues right away or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have caused to their emotional well-being. We have support groups in place to assist you with short-term and long-term questions and needs. Ongoing support after surgery helps to achieve the greatest level of success for our patients.
All patients are different, but most should start with liquid-only diets. This ensures that the patient’s new stomach is able to heal properly while also allowing the patient to get used to a new kind of quicker sensation of being full. This also limits the potential for adverse reactions like vomiting or stretching the new stomach pouch.
After subsequent determinations by a doctor, the patient can slowly move from a liquid-only diet to semisolid foods, and eventually to solid foods. At this point, the patient should stick to a diet of three meals a day and a single, healthy snack between each meal per day.
Patients should also stay vigilant regarding hydration, drinking plenty of water.
Because the patient’s stomach needs to heal, the general consensus is that a patient should wait about four weeks before consuming solid food after a procedure. This can also help a patient get used to their altered stomach without risking adverse effects.
Foods with saturated fats between 12 and 20 grams per serving are not recommended. Sugars, including those from alcohol, should also be avoided. Additionally, gravy, butter or margarine, mayonnaise, and other ingredients that are high in fat and sugar should not be consumed or used to cook with—these high-fat or high-sugar items can lead to dumping syndrome.
Flavored and/or carbonated beverages are also to be avoided, particularly in between meals. Diet versions should also be off limits. Caffeine consumption should be limited until after the patient is able to consume 64 ounces of liquid in the course of a day.
Aerobic exercise lasting at least 20 minutes is recommended every day. This can include anything from walking to stair climbing. Resistance or weight training is also acceptable for up to four days per week.
Though bariatric surgery does not radically alter the body’s ability to absorb nutrition from consumed food, supplements are usually necessary while patients adjust to a new lifestyle after a surgery. Doctors should monitor patient progress to ensure there are no complications and that proper nutrition is being maintained. For the first year, we recommend that patients visit for follow-ups once every three months for the first year, then once every six months thereafter.