Life After Surgery
Weight loss surgery is a major commitment, and being prepared for life after surgery is crucial. We will make sure you are supported every step of the way. Here are some things to consider about what life after surgery might be like.
Fear of Physical Changes
For people who have spent years living with morbid obesity, bariatric surgery sounds like a lifesaver. But, some people are concerned about changing their body. It’s understandable. Your surgeon will reduce the size of your stomach so that you are able to be satisfied with less food and, depending on the procedure, absorb fewer calories and nutrients.
Compare the benefits of bariatric surgery to the risks, and then talk to your doctor about your options.
Be sure to share your concerns with your bariatric surgeon and your bariatric program’s mental health professional. They will be able to provide you with information to help you deal with your concerns.
Bariatric surgery is a lifelong change. Even considering it is a healthy step, because it gives you an opportunity to examine your health and your life.
Bariatric surgery is a major procedure, and recovery doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s postoperative recovery instructions.
Discomfort and Pain
You may think that recovering from bariatric surgery will be a long and painful process, but that’s not usually the case.
Our patients have minimally invasive, or laparoscopic, surgery. Surgeons who use a minimally invasive approach create four to five small incisions.
Compared to open surgery, minimally invasive surgery offers:
- A shorter hospital stay
- Faster recovery
- Less pain
- Less abdominal trauma
- Less scarring
If you’re concerned about pain after surgery, speak with your surgeon. Your surgeon will discuss the pain management medications that he or she will provide you with after the surgery. Some patients are provided with a system that allows them to control their pain medication with the push of a button.
Being out of Commission
As with any major surgery, there will be a recovery period. Recovery periods vary from patient to patient and depend on the type of surgery you have.
Take the time to follow your surgeon’s instructions, and be sure to use this time to practice healthy habits, such as diet and exercise.
Your health is worth the time it takes to fully recover. Try not to rush it. After all, your body will be healing from surgery.
Adjusting to New Habits
Bariatric surgery patients are expected to commit to healthy new habits, such as diet and exercise. You won’t have to become a triathlete or figure out these new habits on your own —just follow your bariatric program’s dietary and exercise instructions. Our comprehensive bariatric program includes healthcare professionals such as:
- Bariatric surgeons
- Program coordinators
Many patients report that during the first 12 to 18 months following surgery, they enjoy a burst of energy and motivation.
During this time, they are making healthy lifestyle changes such as:
- Eating new foods and smaller portions
- Taking multivitamins and calcium supplements daily
- Exercising regularly
These changes can be overwhelming, but they are not impossible to make. Attend a support group—you might draw inspiration from listening to other people’s stories.
How to Cope With Fear of Failure
After years of losing weight and gaining it back, it’s not unusual to blame yourself. However, many healthcare professionals would argue otherwise: The patients were not failures; the weight loss treatments failed them. It’s important to understand what morbid obesity is and how surgery transforms health.
Visit the Learn About Surgery page to read more >
How to Find Support
Many successful bariatric surgery patients say that their support network helped them maintain their new lifestyle changes.
The first step in getting support is talking to your family and friends about bariatric surgery. You might find that they are completely supportive, or you might find that they are not. If they are not supportive, it may be due to fear. They may be concerned about your well-being and may think that bariatric surgery is risky.
If your family or friends are unsupportive, take a few moments to talk to them further. They may only know the myths of bariatric surgery. Explain to them why you are considering bariatric surgery. They may find it helpful to visit our website. Be sure to share the link to our homepage with them.
Consider taking them with you to a support group. That way, they can hear firsthand from bariatric surgery patients and learn about their experiences.
Attending Support Groups
Bariatric programs usually include a support group for patients. Support groups often are run by a psychologist, program coordinator, or dietician. This means that the group is moderated by a health care professional.
Support groups are an excellent resource. You’ll find people who have similar wellness goals, who want to celebrate your successes, and who support you in challenging times. Support groups are devoted to these common experiences, so you can share your feelings in a safe environment.
If you are thinking about bariatric surgery, you may want to scout out a few bariatric programs’ support groups.
Immediately After Surgery
Your time in the hospital right after surgery should be focused on walking and healing. This is the wrong time to try experimenting with food. Eating solid food, or just the wrong foods, could damage your fresh surgery site or make you sick. Don’t have your family bring in food from home.
If you are uncomfortable in bed, don’t just roll over or lay there. Get up and walk. Really, it will help.
The First Few Weeks
Your incisions, both inside and outside, will be healing. Stick to the 10-10-10 diet. Don’t experiment with solid foods. Increase your activity level every day. By the time Dr. Di Stante sees you in the office the week after surgery, we want you walking at least 15 minutes straight without stopping.
If you have a surgical drain in place, the doctor will remove it at your office visit the week after surgery. Don’t stress out over the drain removal. You have already been through the most difficult part of your recovery. Removing the drain is quick and easy.
We will have you meet with the registered dietitian to advance to Phase 2, and then Phase 3 of the 10-10-10 diet. Don’t worry if you need to stay in Phase 1 or 2 longer than 10 days. Everyone is different and the dietitian will help you move forward without causing any problems.
Have questions that you were embarrassed to ask? This is a great time to go to a Support Group. There are many other people who have had your surgery that you can ask anything. They have been where you are now and survived.
Now that your healing is well underway, you should be feeling back to normal. If the surgery is working well, you will not be as hungry as before surgery. Remember to eat until you are satisfied, not until you are full. You should still be working to drink 6-8 glasses of liquid each day (zero calorie liquids) and eating 60 grams of protein daily. This takes some planning and will need to become a part of your daily routine.
Regardless of whether your weight loss procedure is helping you lose weight rapidly, or slowly, exercise is vital to long-term success. You should engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Time spent chasing kids around the house doesn’t count. You need 30 minutes of continuous movement. So, get out and walk, bike, swim, Zumba, or try something new. The key is moving your body every day.
If you are having problems, call us. We are here to help you. We will need to see you in the office every six months for the first two years after surgery, and then once a year after that. We need to make sure that the weight loss surgery is working to the best of it’s ability.
Come to a Support Group and share your experiences. Now that you are comfortable with your surgery and daily routine, you can help someone else. You know, firsthand, that weight loss surgery is a tool to help you change your life. The hard decisions – making healthy food choices and exercising every day – are still yours to make.