Weight-Loss Surgery: Preparing for Post-Op
For bariatric surgery candidates, the journey to long-awaited weight loss only begins on the operating table. Every post-surgery step is crucial in ensuring patient safety and the procedure’s success.
Technological advances have made weight-loss surgery considerably safer and recovery times faster, so the average bariatric patient will be released anywhere from two to three days after the surgery, depending on the specific procedure they’ve undergone. Most patients are able to return to normal activities within anywhere from one to six weeks.
One of the biggest post-operative changes is mealtime. For the first 6 weeks after surgery, patients are asked to follow a multi-stage diet progression. When they are able to consume solid food again, it will be in much smaller amounts, which means they need to eat more frequently. Many patients are encouraged to take nutritional supplements as well; your dietitian and physician can give you a better idea of what you may need.
Exercise is also part of a post-bariatric surgery lifestyle, at first to aid with recovery (patients should be up and walking within three hours after the procedure) and later as part of a healthy, active lifestyle. Combined with dietary changes, an exercise program can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Experts caution that combatting morbid obesity requires changing bad habits and adopting good ones in addition to surgical intervention.
A final but crucial component is your follow-up visits. Research studies have found that patients who follow up with their physicians on a routine basis do better from a weight loss standpoint than those who don’t keep those appointments. Your first check-in may be a week or two after surgery, followed by appointments at three months, six months, and then annually.
There is a reward for all this diligence. Research shows that patients may lose as much as 60 percent of their excess weight six months after surgery, and 77 percent of their excess weight as early as 12 months after surgery.
Learn more about the Penn Metabolic & Bariatric Program, and sign up for a free weight-loss surgery information session here.