Undergoing bariatric surgery is a life changing event, regardless of which procedure you choose. During your recovery from surgery & over the following several months you will be going through many significant changes.
You will be losing a considerable amount of weight & we expect many of your health problems to improve during this process. Certain problems such as diabetes, reflux, & high blood pressure can improve rapidly & it is important for you to follow up frequently with your primary care physician to make the necessary changes to your medications.
Keys to Success
There are three key components to successful bariatric surgery. Surgery is a critical part of the equation, but diet & exercise are extremely important. It is necessary for you to follow the dietary recommendations and to exercise regularly. Without all three components in place we do not expect you to lose a significant amount of weight. Remember surgery is only a tool to make your efforts at diet & exercise more successful.
All of our operations are designed to limit the amount of food that you can eat at one time, this is called restriction. Generally we expect portion sizes to be about ½ – 1 cup per meal depending on which procedure was performed. It is often helpful for patients touse a small plate for meals to help limit portion sizes. Gastric bypass patients also have some degree of malabsorption which requires additional dietary restrictions. Specific guidelines & recommendations are outlined in our diet booklet, which can be downloaded from the website. A registered dietician is also available for reinforcement of appropriate food choices & portion control teaching as needed. These appointments can be scheduled through our office.
We recommend that all of our patients take a good quality multi-vitamin and calcium with vitamin D daily. Some patients may also need additional supplemental vitamins & minerals to maintain healthy levels; we will routinely review your lab work & make necessary adjustments. Protein supplementation is also important for all patients. We recommend that all patients take in at least 60 grams of protein daily through their diet & when necessary protein shakes may be added to achieve proper nourishment. All of the supplement recommendations are listed in the diet booklet.
Since you have been increasing your activity & exercising in preparation for surgery staying active afterward is easier. While you are in the hospital we require you to walk the halls several times each day. This is very important to help prevent blood clots & pneumonia and this also helps speed your recovery. Upon dismissal from the hospital it is important to exercise at least 30 minutes per day. We recommend aerobic exercise such as walking, or the use treadmills or elliptical machines. Lifting is restricted to 10-20 pounds for the first month after surgery.
After that patients may return to full activity unless instructed otherwise. We recommend that patients return to work as soon as possible although light duty activity is maintained for the first month. Over the long term ongoing exercise of at least 30 minutes per day is needed to help achieve & maintain good weight loss.
Patients who have a good support system tend to have an easier transition into a new healthier lifestyle with better weight loss. A support system can consist of friends, relatives, church members, or members of a bariatric support group. There is a group that meets monthly in the greater Little Rock area at Baptist Health Medical Center, for your convenience we have posted the schedule on our site. Baptist Health Support Group Meetings are for both pre and post-op bariatric patients. We do encourage all of our patients to attend support group meetings regularly.
Close follow up begins immediately after surgery & continues for the rest of your life. Weight loss surgery is safe & effective, but without proper follow-up, preventable problems may arise. The follow up schedule is different for each procedure but starts 2-4 weeks after surgery.
For lap band patients more frequent follow up is necessary as we adjust the band. The 1st adjustment is done 4 weeks after surgery, and then every 3-4 weeks as needed to gain the right amount of restriction for you. Every patient is different and there is not a set amount or number of adjustments required. Once you have achieved a good amount of restriction & are losing weight at a healthy pace, the frequency of visits will decrease and continued follow up is more like that of sleeve or bypass.
For gastric sleeve & bypass patients there is nothing to adjust so initial follow up is a little less frequent. Sleeve & bypass patients will come back to the office for their initial post-op visit in 2-3 weeks, if all is well the next appointment will be in 3-6 months with lab work due at the 6 month appointment, and then again at the 1 year mark. After the first year most patients will progress to annual follow up with labs to be drawn at each visit to monitor for any possible vitamin deficiencies.
We cannot stress enough the importance of proper follow up and for our bypass patients the need for routine lab work. Early detection of nutritional deficiencies is key to prevention of potential long term complications. Serious side effects & occasionally permanent damage can result from chronically low levels; however these can be avoided by taking supplements as directed & routine lab to monitor for deficiencies.
At Arkansas Bariatric Surgery we are here help you with each step of your journey. You will be going through many exciting changes after surgery not only with excellent weight loss but also with improvement of many of your health problems. As always, please let us know how we can help you transition to a better life.