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Life After Weight Loss Surgery: Best Practices to Maintain Long-Term Weight Loss


By Dr. Dieter Pohl

Most people falsely believe that weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a simple one-step process. They think weight-loss surgeries consist of going to the hospital, having the surgery, then shedding weight immediately without changing their lifestyle. These beliefs are false—the success of any weight-loss surgery depends highly on the after care. If you are considering weight-loss surgery, you may be wondering: what must I do after weight-loss surgery to ensure successful weight loss.

For you—the patient—to experience long-term weight loss, you must understand that surgery is only a tool to help lose weight and maintain weight loss. Do your part; follow the recommendations that the surgical team gives you, while also participating in activities to help long-lasting weight loss. You may wonder, what activities help long-lasting weight loss? Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure successful long-term weight loss after surgery:

Seek Support

You shouldn’t have to take on the monumental journey of weight loss on your own. Luckily, Roger Williams Medical Center makes sure that you don’t have to. Roger Williams Medical Center offers resources like support groups available during different weeks, days, times, and locations to ensure the needs of each patient are met. These support groups will help you overcome the sadness you may face post-weight-loss surgery and break old habits and attitudes. Remember, reality after surgery does not always equal expectations before surgery so it helps to talk to people who have been where you are.

Nutrition After Weight-Loss Surgery

As we talked about earlier, weight-loss surgery is not the easy-way-out, but a tool that along with hard work, diet, portion sizes, and exercises will help you maintain long-term weight loss. For the first 2-3 weeks, you will be unable to consume solid foods, so you will be on a liquid food diet. Then as you start to eat solid foods, you will notice that you feel full much quicker. Make sure that you do not overeat, and that all food is chewed slowly and completely—you may feel pain with foods like bread, pasta, rice, raw vegetables, and meats if you do not. If you continue to eat when full, you risk stretching the stomach and reducing potential weight loss.

In addition, after weight-loss surgery, foods that are high in fats, sugar, carbohydrates, and calories must be avoided. Drinks high in calories and sugar, fructose, or corn syrup, along with alcohol and carbonated drinks should also be removed from your diet. However, changing your diet will not be enough when it comes to nutrients. With weight-loss surgery, it becomes harder for the body to absorb certain nutrients, so you must take supplements including Iron, Vitamin B12, Folate, Calcium, and Vitamin D.

Change Your Lifestyle

Along with a change in nutrition, a change in lifestyle aids in long-term weight loss after weight-loss surgery. A change in lifestyle should consist of eating small, frequent meals (6 small meals instead of 3 large meals), committing to good nutrition—as discussed in the previous section—and exercising. Snacking should be removed from your lifestyle as it would limit weight loss by stretching the stomach. Lastly, but equally as important, you should consume about 8 glasses of water a day, with small sips and without using straws because they bring excess air into the stomach.

Choosing weight-loss surgery is a potentially life-changing decision. You can expect to lose weight and possibly improve weight-related medical conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, Sleep Apnea, or Hypertension. We encourage you to contact us if you have any questions by calling 401-521-6310 or attending one of our support group sessions.

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