What to Do After Bariatric Surgery
The most common bariatric surgeries include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, adjustable gastric band and biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch. These surgeries are performed to help people lose excess weight and reduce the risk of potentially life-threatening weight-related health problems like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
If you or a loved one is considering or has recently undergone bariatric surgery, then you know how important it is to follow your after-care instructions carefully. Not only will they help you heal, but they’ll also help you make important lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life.
Post-bariatric medications and supplements
After bariatric surgery, plan to spend between 2-5 days in the hospital. During this time, your nurses will closely monitor your vitals, pain levels and incision to ensure you are healing well.
When it’s time to leave the hospital, you’ll receive some prescription medications and recommended supplements. Your bariatric surgeon may also recommend an over-the-counter multivitamin in addition to these prescriptions. It is important to take these exactly as instructed to avoid complications or illness. Here is a list of commonly prescribed medications and supplements:
This medication helps reduce the amount of acid in your body, which can lower your risk of ulcers around the staple lines of your procedure (an area prone to ulcers).
This medication will only be prescribed if you have a gallbladder, as it helps prevent the formation of gallstones (common after bariatric surgery).
- Calcium citrate
This supplement helps prevent calcium deficiency and bone disease. Take 500-600 mg three times a day for maximum absorption and to lower your risk of osteoporosis, osteomalacia and hypoparathyroidism.
- Vitamin D
This supplement replenishes a common deficiency after bariatric surgery. Take 400-500 international units (IUs) twice a day with your calcium supplement to promote healing and muscle function.
- Vitamin B12
Take 500 mcg daily to give your body the nutrients it can no longer efficiently get from the protein you eat.
It’s important to check with your doctor before resuming prescription medications or taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g., Advil) to ensure you are getting the right dosage.
Post-bariatric surgery nutrition
You will be placed on a strict diet immediately after bariatric surgery. Here is what it may look like:
- Week 1-2: Clear liquid diet
- Week 3-4: Pureed diet and protein supplements
- Month 3-4: Soft foods diet
- Month 4 and beyond: Balanced meals with small portions
Daily calories should be between 400-900 for at least the first 12 months after bariatric surgery and should not exceed 1,000. You will feel fuller, faster so be sure to pay attention to your body and stop eating when you feel full. This will help you break old eating habits and behavior patterns.
Daily cardio or aerobic activity
Check with your doctor before beginning an exercise routine after bariatric surgery.
Many people are encouraged to begin walking within hours of bariatric surgery. Daily cardio and aerobic activity not only helps speed recovery but also helps keep the weight loss off long term. Start by walking five minutes twice a day and work your way up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise once per day.
As important it is to stay active, it is just as important to stay safe. Strenuous activities are prohibited for 3-6 weeks following surgery. Avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds as well as push and pull motions (e.g., vacuuming) for the first six weeks. It’s also important to avoid sitting or standing in the same place for prolonged periods. Make it a priority to change positions frequently while sitting and walk around or climb stairs instead of standing still. These actions will help improve blood circulation and lower your risk of blood clots in your legs.
Support groups provide support, guidance, companionship and an opportunity to discuss post-surgery issues in a safe place. Your chance of maintaining a healthy weight increases when you have a network of supportive people who can encourage and help you stay on track.
Researchers are still studying the long-term effects of bariatric surgeries including malnutrition, which can lead to anemia, neuropathy and cognitive difficulties. For that reason, Beltre Bariatrics recommends a series of blood tests every three months for the first 12 months following surgery and annual tests after that. We want to be sure you’re getting the nutrients you need to stay strong and healthy.
For more information or to schedule an initial consultation, please call our offices at 321-499-6505. We look forward to helping you live your best life—for the rest of your life.
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