Wondering what you can expect post-bariatric surgery? Here are 7 things to prepare for.
Today’s bariatric surgeries come with better results and shorter recovery periods. At the same time, the first few weeks and months after your surgery is incredibly important for both the surgery’s success and your overall health.
Your life will change in ways that you might not expect. And it’s important for you to notice those changes and follow your doctor’s instructions to ensure you stay healthy as you recover.
Here are seven things you need to know about life post-bariatric surgery:
1. Follow a Liquid Protein Diet for the First One to Two Weeks
As you might expect, eating after gastric bypass surgery is very different from your life pre-op. The difference isn’t only in your average portion size. It would help if you also gave your stomach a chance to heal without any stretching caused by food.
For the first two weeks after your gastric bypass weight loss surgery, you’ll stick to a liquid or soft diet.
The first 24-48 hours will include almost only clear liquids to keep you hydrated. After that, you can move on to broths, skim milk, and unsweetened juices. You can also have decaf coffee or tea: we’ll talk more about the need to avoid caffeine later.
As you begin to heal and better tolerate different types of liquids, you can move on to soft foods.
2. Stick to Soft Foods for the First Month
For the next month, you need to stick to relatively soft foods with a heavy emphasis on liquids.
Anything you eat should be a pureed consistency, either when you make it or after you chew it. Keep it simple by choosing foods that work well at that consistency, like scrambled eggs, cooked vegetables, cream soups, and lean ground meat.
How you eat is as important as what you eat in these cases.
You need to time your meals and your water intake well to avoid getting sick. We’ll talk about hydration in #4. You will also get your soft foods in small serving sizes, eating four to six tablespoons of food three to six times daily.
It doesn’t sound like much, but you will eat slowly. It should take you half an hour to finish it to ensure you digest it properly. If you don’t you risk dumping syndrome, which can cause nausea, dizziness, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea.
3. Take Your Supplements as Directed
Your medical provider will very likely recommend that you supplement your diet as you heal. Your limited diet and calories will mean that you could face serious nutritional shortages that impact all your bodily functions.
In most cases, your doctor will recommend:
- Multivitamin (with iron)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Calcium Citrate
They will also give you a daily schedule for taking said vitamins. Following the schedule is important because it will maximize absorption and prevent you from feeling sick.
4. Stay Hydrated
It’s imperative to avoid dehydration for the first few months after your surgery (as well as just in general). Your recommended fluid intake is 64 ounces a day.
However, if you want to be specific, divide your weight by two. The result is the number of ounces of water you need each day.
While many of us tend to schedule our water intake at mealtimes, you need to avoid this after surgery. You shouldn’t drink water half an hour before or after you eat. So, you need to be sipping all day.
Hydration is critical to recovery, so set timers and alarms if you’re not used to drinking all day.
5. Skip Caffeine for the First 30 Days
As mentioned above, you can have tea and coffee, but you need to stick to the decaf varieties. Why?
Caffeine leads to dehydration, which you need to avoid in the months after your surgery. It can also act as an appetite stimulant, which also isn’t ideal as you recover.
6. Get Back to the Gym Slowly
There are two reasons to wait to hit the gym.
First, your post-bariatric surgery diet will include limited calories. You will get enough to function and move, but you won’t have expendable calories for cardio.
Second, you need to let your abdomen and your incisions heal. You shouldn’t put any undue pressure on your abdomen or lower back to avoid complications.
Your doctor will instruct you on when and how to get back to the gym after surgery. In most cases, you’ll start by walking 10 minutes a day and then 20 minutes a day.
Once you have the all-clear from your health provider (usually once you’re eating 800 calories a day), you can exercise as normal – or start a fitness plan for the first time. Remember that exercise is good for your body and mind, so there’s no time like the present to find an activity you enjoy that also gets your heart rate up.
7. Watch Your Fertility
Many people find that they see spikes in their fertility after losing a substantial amount of weight.
If you’re a female in her child-bearing years, keep an eye on your fertility and ovulation schedule, if you’re sexually active. Although getting pregnant after gastric bypass is safe, doctors tend to prefer that you wait until your weight stabilizes before actively trying to get pregnant (around 18 months post-op).
Are You Ready for Life Post Bariatric Surgery?
Bariatric surgery is safer and more common than ever, but it’s still an invasive operation. To keep you healthy and ensure a short recovery, your doctor will provide you with strict instructions to follow after your operation.
Following every aspect of your post-bariatric surgery protocol is important for both healing and weight loss. Without it, you could find yourself experiencing undesirable or even dangerous complications. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about any aspect of your recovery plan.
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