What to Expect After Bariatric Surgery
Succesful Starting Tips
The first 1-2 weeks after surgery are arguably the most challenging. The transition back into employment and personal routine can be somewhat difficult, so doctors recommend allowing time to gradually create a positive lifestyle change. During this time, diet and exercise should not be taken lightly, as these things will set the stage for the recovery process.
While it will be tempting to experiment with foods that stretch the limits of the recommended diet for the first two weeks, keep in mind that doctors suggest a specific diet in order to limit any risks for complications.
- Focus on hydrating fluids. It is essential to keep water close by at all times. Otherwise, stick with clear liquids only for the first week. Examples include sugar-free juice drinks (though watch out for those that are too acidic), low sodium broths such as chicken or vegetable, herbal teas which are low in caffeine, clear protein drinks, and sugar free popsicles. Once into the second week, full liquids may be permitted. Remember, the main goal is to stay hydrated during this time.
- Protein. Protein is critical in weight loss, and getting the right amount is required during bariatric recovery. The best possible full liquid to enjoy during the second week after surgery is a protein shake. Make a strong effort to increase daily protein intake after from the second week moving forward (60-80 grams).
- Vitamins. Do not begin taking vitamins until the second week after surgery. Once into the second week, take multivitamins daily.
Normally, it is beneficial to adhere to an exercise regimen that pushes boundaries, but it is important to remember that recovery requires patience, and therefore strenuous exercise should not be rushed.
- No heavy housework. Do not attempt to lift objects weighing more than 10 pounds in the first week, or more than 50 during the second week. Do not engage in household chores (mopping, lifting heavy laundry baskets, etc) either during this time.
- Get help from family and friends. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from friends and family for taking care of errands and chores which may be too labor-intensive. They will be there to lend support for as long as necessary.
- Keep exercise light, but frequent. It is important not to engage in intense physical activity. Light exercise is strongly recommended, and walking would be the best example. If walking is not an option, swimming is acceptable, but do not overwork the body. Sexual intercourse is not recommended during the first two weeks of recovery.
Moving Into Next Month
Once week three after surgery begins, more solid foods are allowed to be entered into the diet. These foods start out as soft purees, and then will move into more solid proteins. Exercise regimens can be advanced into more familiar physical activity, within reason.
- No fluids with solid meals. By, combining fluids with solid meals, it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb protein, which is essential to weight loss. It also can cause bloating and abdominal pain. Only consume liquids 30 minute before each solid meal, and no less than 30 minutes after
- Ease into solid foods. Start out week three with light purees that are easily digestible. It is important to wait until the third week after surgery to introduce more solid food into recovery. This begins with foods such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, grits, Cream of Wheat, sugar free pudding or gelatin, cottage cheese or hummus.
- Solid foods. Once it has become easier to consume pureed foods, then eggs, tuna, canned chicken, seedless fruits, soft vegetables (preferably canned) and deli meats may be introduced.
- Don’t skimp on the protein. It will continue to be important to fill your diet with enough protein intake, as protein deficiency may be more likely to occur during the first year of recovery. Signs of protein deficiency include fatigue, muscle loss, muscle cramps and sluggishness.
- No more sugar! With beverages and other sweets, be sure to select items that are a sugar free option. Sugar can aid in weight gain and is linked to diabetes.
- Do not push too hard at first. Entering month two, it should be easier and less painful to embark on a more vigorous exercise regimen. Cuts from surgery should be closed by now, making activities such as swimming and biking available.
- Weights. For those who would like to gain muscle mass, remember not to overstrain the core muscles or lift too much weight in general at first.
- Protein. Remember, protein will continue to be key in weight management, as well as in building and maintaining muscle. Allow room in the diet for 60-80 grams of protein each day (again, fluids should be consumed only 30 minutes before solids and no less than 30 minutes after).
Moving Forward and Maintaining
Bariatric Surgery can provide positive, long lasting results, and how effective the surgery is depends entirely on commitment to staying healthy and keeping off unwanted weight gain.
By committing to a regular regimen of proper diet and exercise, weight management can be an attainable goal and thus provide for a healthy and happy lifestyle.