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Weight Loss Surgery FAQs

If you are considering weight loss surgery, then you likely have questions about the procedure, your recovery and what life is like post-surgery. We’ve answered the most common questions we hear below to help you understand what to expect from weight-loss surgery. Then, consider registering for an SSM Health Weight Management Services informational seminar. This free seminar provides a high-level overview of all our weight loss services designed to help you reach your weight loss goals.

Common Questions About Weight Loss Surgery

During the first four weeks after surgery, your diet will be limited to only protein supplements and pureed foods. In the fifth week, you will re-introduce semi-soft foods. After six weeks, you will be able to eat most foods, only eliminating refined sugars and fats. We will recommend a daily calorie total for you depending on your specific needs, usually between 1000 and 1200 calories daily.

We no longer perform intestinal bypass surgery and stomach stapling because of the risk of complications and high failure rate.

Our bariatric team will provide guidance about what and how you should eat post-surgery. In general, you will be on a liquid diet for four weeks following surgery, and then gradually return to eating a normal diet, although in smaller amounts.

Exercise is an important part of success after surgery. Exercise actually begins on the afternoon of bariatric surgery––you will be asked to get out of bed and walk. The goal is to walk further every day after that, including the first few weeks at home. You may be encouraged to begin exercising, limited only by discomfort, about two weeks after surgery. The type of exercise depends on your overall condition. Some patients who have severe knee problems can't walk well, but may be able to swim or bicycle. Many patients begin with low-stress forms of exercise and move on to more demanding activity when they are able.

We generally advise patients to limit their intake of food to 1/4 cup, or 2 ounces, of food at each meal. As time goes on, you will be able to eat more, as instructed by your medical team. Most people can eat approximately 1 cup of food after a year post-surgery.

You should not drive until you have stopped taking any medications your doctor prescribed associated with surgery and can move quickly and alertly. Usually, this takes seven to 14 days after surgery.

You will are asked to walk or stand at the bedside the night of surgery and take several walks the next day and soon after. Upon leaving the hospital, you may be able to care for all your personal needs, but you will need help with shopping and lifting, and with transportation.

Ask your insurance provider to verify coverage for weight loss surgery. Some insurance companies require completion of a medically-supervised diet program before approval.

It is strongly advised that women of childbearing age use the most effective forms of birth control during the first 16 to 24 months after bariatric surgery.

Potential risks are the same as any other major abdominal surgery: infection, leg and lung clots, bowel obstruction and intestinal or stomach leakage.

The guidelines are designed to improve your chance of long-term success in weight loss. If you don’t follow the guidelines, you may not lose the excess weight or maintain your weight loss. In addition, you may experience complications, such as vomiting, diarrhea or malnutrition after surgery.

While recovery time depends on the specific procedure, you can expect to stay in the hospital for one to two days. Depending on your job, you may be able to return to work in one or two weeks after weight-loss surgery, as opposed to the average six weeks for traditional surgery. Outpatient surgery for adjustable gastric banding may be available in your area, check with your provider.

Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity depends on your physical condition, the nature of the activity, and the type of bariatric surgery you had. Many patients return to normal levels of activity within six weeks of surgery.

When you have bariatric surgery, you lose weight as the amount of food energy (calories) you can eat becomes much less than your body needs. Your body makes up the difference by burning unused fat or muscle tissue. Your body tends to burn any unused muscle before it begins to burn the fat it has saved up. Without daily exercise, your body will burn unused muscle, and you will lose muscle mass and strength. Daily aerobic exercise for 20 minutes will tell your body to use your muscles and force it to burn the fat.

When you're losing weight, your body eliminates waste products in your urine. Some of these substances tend to form crystals, which can cause kidney stones. Drinking a lot of water helps your body rid itself of waste efficiently, promoting better weight loss. Water also fills your stomach and helps create a feeling of fullness. If you feel a desire to eat between meals, it may be because you did not drink enough water in the hour before.

Making the decision to have weight loss surgery can feel overwhelming. The caring and compassionate team at SSM Health Weight Management Services will help you consider all of your options - both surgical and non-surgical - so you can feel confident in your choice. Make an appointment today so you can get started on your path to better health.

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