Health Care Lifestyle

Bariatric Surgery: What to Expect as You Recover

Senior Woman a little overweight pink shirt

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Bariatric surgery can offer you a new beginning — and a dramatic boost — on your weight-loss journey. But the surgery itself is just one step in the process. For the best long-term results, it’s important to follow your health care team’s instructions as you recover. Here’s what to expect.

Follow-Up Visits

You’ll have many follow-up visits in the months after your surgery. You may see your surgeon, primary care provider, a nurse practitioner or physician assistant, dietician, mental health professional and other specialists. It’s important to keep all these visits to make sure you’re recovering well and losing weight as expected.

Your Diet Plan

Your doctor or nutritionist will give you a nutrition plan to follow after your surgery.

Our expert bariatric surgeon, Christian Birkedal, MD, advises, “You may start with a liquid diet then move on to soft or pureed foods before you can begin eating regular foods. Focus on healthy eating, including fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Protein foods, such as lean meats, fish, dairy, eggs and beans, are important as they provide key nutrients and help you feel full longer. Limit sugary foods, such as candy and baked goods.”

It’s also important to drink enough fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. Aim to drink more than 51 ounces of fluids every day, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.

Vitamins You’ll Need

After bariatric surgery, you’ll need to take vitamins and supplements every day to make sure you’re getting enough of all the nutrients you need. In most cases, your routine will include a multivitamin with iron, folic acid, and copper, as well as vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and calcium supplements. Your doctor may also recommend vitamin A or other vitamins. Don’t integrate new supplements or suddenly stop others without consulting your doctor.

Taking Your Medicine

Bariatric surgery can affect the way your body absorbs medications. According to Dr. Birkedal, “Your doctor will tell you if you need to change the doses of your medications or take them in a different way, such as in a liquid or by crushing them into food.” This may be true forever or only for a limited time right after surgery, depending on your procedure and your medications.

There are also medicines you should not take. Be sure to have that conversation with your doctor.

Staying Active

Being active is an important part of long-term weight control. Your surgeon or exercise specialist can help you come up with a program.

“Most people need at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, whether it’s walking, swimming or taking an exercise class,” says Dr. Birkedal. “You should also incorporate strength training into your workouts two to three times per week.”

Getting Support

Having bariatric surgery is a big step. Getting support — either by talking with an experienced professional or attending a support group — can help get you through any bumps along the way. Check out our page to learn more about our personalized bariatric and metabolic care.

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