Any surgery, minor or major, can be a traumatic experience both emotionally and physically. Bariatric surgery is considered to be major surgery. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), patients who fall into the following categories are candidates for bariatric surgery:
- People who have a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 40 or are more than 100 pounds overweight
- Those with a BMI greater than or equal to 35 and also have at least one obesity-related illness, like sleep apnea, type II diabetes, hypertension, a liver disease not due to alcoholism, gastrointestinal ailments and heart disease
- People who have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight over a long period of time
Recovery from major surgery can be very painful and take a lot of time. However, looking forward to the positive results and knowing what to expect will help prepare you for your road to recovery.
After undergoing weight loss surgery, your body will handle food differently than before the surgery. It will be more difficult to absorb certain nutrients, like vitamin D, folate, iron, calcium and vitamin B12. Because of this, doctors will often prescribe vitamin supplements. Bariatric surgery vitamins have been clinically proven to reduce post-surgical deficiencies in bariatric patients and help prevent adverse health conditions that might occur after surgery.
Any Side Effects?
According to WebMD, only about 5% will have serious complications, whereas about 10% might suffer from minor complications after surgery. Possible side effects are:
- Wound infections
- Dumping syndrome (weakness, vomiting and nausea after consuming a lot of sugar)
How Much Weight Will You Lose?
This question is probably the one most patients would like answered. After all, that is the purpose of the procedure. Unfortunately, there is not one single answer for all patients. It depends on many factors, such as how overweight you are to begin with, and the answer will vary from person to person. Your best course of action will be to talk to your doctor about your specific situation to keep your expectations realistic.
How About Pain?
Your first day post-op will probably not be very painful because you will still be receiving IV pain medications. Everyone reacts differently to pain with different tolerance levels, so be sure to communicate with your doctor or nurse and let them know how you are feeling. After your IV is removed and you are sent home from the hospital, your doctor will prescribe pain medications, should you need them to help you feel more comfortable. Your pain should subside with each passing day and be gone by approximately the third-week post-surgery. It will take about 6 weeks to fully recover from your surgery, so be sure to follow the directions provided to you by your doctor regarding diet and activity to avoid any complications.
If you don’t change your lifestyle and eating habits after Bariatric surgery, you will be harming yourself and working against the benefits of the surgery. Think about your life as a new start to a healthier you after surgery. Your appetite will be reduced, as will the size of your stomach. You should eat smaller meals because your new smaller stomach will be unable to hold as much food at one time as before your surgery.
People gain weight for many different reasons, many have bad eating habits and don’t eat the right foods. Your surgeon might recommend seeing a nutritionist who can help you devise a diet plan that works with your lifestyle, includes healthy foods and makes sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. In general, you should eat less sugar and smaller portions.
If you didn’t exercise prior to your surgery, once you have fully recovered, you should start a regular exercise program to burn calories and build muscle mass. Be sure not to start any program without checking with your doctor first. You want to make sure your body has completely healed before starting exercise.
Your goal after Bariatric surgery is to keep the weight off and to be healthier. Besides diet and exercise, there are a few other lifestyle changes you can make that can help you achieve and maintain your goals. Think about taking the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator, and how many calories this one change can help you burn. Why not cook more meals at home rather than eating out? Not only will you save money, you will be able to cook healthier, lower-calorie dishes. It is also important to drink a lot of water every day in between meals.
Deciding to have Bariatric surgery is a huge decision. Make sure you change your lifestyle and mindset to move your life along in the direction of managed weight and better health.