After Bariatric Surgery

Most patients do not get anything to eat or drink the day of their bariatric surgery. The morning after surgery, an X-ray may be performed on your upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract to check for leaks. If no leaks are found, you’ll be offered a clear liquid (phase 1) diet for a day.

If you do ok with clear liquids, your diet will progress to thicker liquids (phase 2) for the next two weeks, then soft or pureed foods (phase 3) for 10 weeks. Phase 3 includes “fork-tender meats” and other foods that you could eat if you didn’t have teeth. A regular diet (phase 4) can be started about three months after surgery.

Most patients can go home 1-2 days after surgery. They usually are seen again in 2-3 weeks, then every 3-6 months during the first 1-2 years, then annually after that. Lab tests will be performed every 6-12 months during the first two years then annually after that, if your primary care physician is not already performing your lab tests.

After weight-loss surgery, you’ll need to change how you eat and live for the rest of your life. Below are some guidelines and things you should expect:

  • Right after surgery, you’ll eat about 400 calories a day, but you’ll gradually eat more over the next 12 months.
  • Because you’re eating less, you need to make sure to get enough protein, so you may need to consume special drinks or foods.
  • You should avoid sweet foods and drinks with calories.
  • When you eat, have small amounts. Turn off the TV, sit down, take tiny bites, and chew your food well.
  • Moving and exercising is very important. Try to do fun activities that make you breathe faster, like fast walking, for at least 4 hours every week.
  • You’ll need to take vitamins every day, including a multivitamin with iron, B12, and calcium with vitamin D.
  • It is important that you do not smoke or use tobacco or nicotine products, which increase your risk of death, ulcers, and complications.

We strongly recommend that you avoid taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil), Aleve, and Mobic, as well as pain/headache powders from Goody’s, BC, and Stanback. All of these increase the risk of ulcers and stricture (the narrowing of passages in your body), and this is especially true for patients who’ve had gastric bypass surgery. It is ok to occasionally take Tylenol (acetaminophen), if taken as directed.

Some women who are very overweight struggle with infertility, so losing weight may increase a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. However, we strongly advise against pregnancy during the period of time when patients are losing most of their weight, which is usually within the first year or 18 months after surgery. It’s very important to use birth control during this time.

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