Expectations After Weight Loss Surgery
by Anthony Benjamin on Oct 12, 2022
Expectations After Weight Loss Surgery
If you’re scheduled to have weight loss surgery, you are probably already anticipating the results and your new lifestyle changes. But during the first few days of your weight loss surgery recovery, what can you realistically expect? What should you prepare for?
Your recovery will vary depending upon the type of bariatric surgery you had, but there are some similar expectations that span the range of weight-loss surgeries. No matter the procedure, the changes you experience right after surgery and for the first 30 days can be intense as you continue your weight loss journey. (see What to Expect During Your Hospital Stay for immediate postoperative expectations.)
One of the most significant lifestyle changes you will make is to your diet. You will have a nutritional plan to ensure you get enough protein, vitamins, and minerals as well as hydration.
Following your surgery and for most of the first 30 days, you will be on a liquid diet. Then, two to three weeks after surgery, you will start to transition to a soft-food diet. You will have protein drinks and shakes to help you maintain muscle mass. Your protein drinks should also be nutritionally complete to provide your daily recommended vitamins and minerals. If they are not, you should take vitamin and mineral supplements to avoid becoming malnourished. Weight loss surgery changes how your body absorbs nutrients and supplements will ensure that your body is getting what it needs.
Your eating schedule will also be different. You will be able to consume one to two ounces at a time, and the time between meals will be short. Rather than eating three larger meals a day, you will eat five to six smaller meals throughout the day.
To stay hydrated, you will drink six to eight cups of water a day (up to 64 ounces). Because your stomach pouch is smaller, you won’t drink water with your meals or up to 30 minutes after eating. This schedule gives your body time to digest your food.
Adapting to this new way of eating can be challenging for some people. Keeping a diary of your food and liquid intake and making a daily plan can be helpful.
Weight loss surgery can help people lose up to 60% of their excess body weight. Success depends on the type of surgery, your initial body mass index (BMI), and if you stick to the lifestyle changes that support your goals.
During the first few months, weight loss tends to be quick and can average between five to 15 pounds per week. Keep in mind that women tend to lose weight at a slower pace than men.
Reversal of Health-Related Conditions
Many people undergo weight loss surgery to improve conditions that are related to being overweight. High blood pressure, diabetes, and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) may improve quickly after surgery.
Even though you may expect to see a reversal of these health-related conditions, you should still monitor your blood sugar and continue your medication until advised otherwise by your doctor.
The most common complication following weight loss surgery is constipation. Pain medication side effects and dehydration usually cause this condition. Be sure to monitor your fluid intake to ensure that you are meeting your daily goals.
Vomiting is another common complication that patients often suffer during the first 30 days. Overeating, eating too fast, eating the wrong foods, and not chewing food thoroughly before swallowing can cause vomiting. Make sure you are drinking and eating the right amount of food and consider purchasing a food scale to double-check portion sizes.
Dumping syndrome is a side effect that occurs if you eat a high-fat or high-sugar meal (fruit juices and sodas are most often to blame). Rushing through the stomach, the sugary food can cause vomiting, nausea, and weakness.
Due in large part to weight loss procedures being performed laparoscopically, the likelihood of major surgical complications is about 4%, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
If your vomit is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, call your doctor right away. You should also let your doctor know immediately if you have a dark, tarry stool or feel faint, dizzy, or lightheaded. These may be signs of internal bleeding or other serious complications.
Finally, keep an eye on your surgical incisions. Signs of infection include pain, swelling, redness, and discharge. When fighting off an infection, you may also run a fever.
Weight loss surgery changes the way your body absorbs not only food but also medication. Because of this, extended- and delayed-release medicines may not work well after weight loss surgery.
Because your stomach may be sensitive after surgery, the high-dose vitamin supplements can cause vomiting. While some patients can tolerate a quick dissolving capsule right away, most programs suggest patients begin their postoperative vitamin regimen with a chewable form. Chewing the vitamin allows nutrient absorption to begin in your mouth and helps make digestion easier. Remember that vitamins in gummy form are not recommended because they do not have all the vitamins and minerals you need.
You may also find that swallowing pills shortly after surgery is difficult. Give yourself time. Typically, swallowing issues resolve within three to six months after surgery, and patients can resume taking multivitamins and other medications in capsule form.
If you are having a hard time keeping vitamins down, try:
- Different iron strengths. This may mean you have to supplement with another iron-only option.
- Take vitamins with food.
- Take them at night before bed so you sleep through any discomfort.
- Crush and add vitamins to shakes, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.
- Break up the dose if possible and take one-half at a time instead of a whole.
As mentioned earlier, you will need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for the rest of your life. Because you will be consuming less food following surgery and the digestive process has changed, you will be at risk for nutritional deficiencies. Complete bariatric vitamins and mineral supplements are necessary to fill in nutritional gaps to maintain health. You can expect to take the following:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Complete multivitamin
Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin unless your doctor gives you the okay. NSAIDs can cause ulcers or stomach irritation and are linked to a kind of ulcer called “marginal ulcer” after gastric bypass. While they are not usually fatal, marginal ulcers can perforate or bleed.
If you are currently taking medication for high blood pressure or other chronic conditions, you may find that you no longer need them after you lose weight. Don’t discontinue any medications until otherwise advised by your doctor.
Choose ProCare Health for Your Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
At ProCare Health, we are committed to bringing you the best vitamin and mineral supplements on the market. Our once-daily vitamin is specially designed for people who have undergone bariatric surgery. Our multivitamin uses easy to absorb ingredients so you can be confident you are getting the absorption and nutrients needed to stay healthy. Please contact us today with questions, to get a free sample, or to place an order.