BARIATRIC SURGERY TIPS
Tips Before Surgery
Ensuring you are fully prepared and ready for the life changes that are about to occur can make recovery and healing much easier, and can also drastically help with the transition into your new lifestyle and eating habits. It is important to be fully prepared for surgery both physically and mentally.
- Pack loose and comfortable clothing for the hospital. It is going to be very difficult to move and bend your body after the surgery so make sure you have clothes that are easy to get into and will not irate things such as stitches or staples that you may have in your abdomen. Also, Make sure there are extra clothes for your home as well. This means ensuring that your wardrobe is as comfortable for home as it was in the hospital. This can also mean purchasing proper, loose fitting business clothes if you are planning on returning to work within a short period.
- Ensure you have shoes that can easily slip on. Slip on shoes will be much easier than having to bend down and have to Velcro or tie shoes.
- Try to have some “transition” clothing, shoes, etc. These items are usually old clothing that you can no longer fit into but will be perfect as you lose weight. You will start to lose weight dramatically and it is more cost effective to have some older clothing ready than buying new clothes. If you do need to buy new clothes then try charity stores for cheaper alternatives. Only start to buy new clothes once you have stopped losing weight at such a dramatic rate.
- Purchase multivitamins. It is difficult to get nutrition directly after surgery and multivitamins help immensely. Your doctor will be able to tell you which vitamins you will require to meet your specific needs.
- Make sure you have over-the-counter pain medication on hand. After the prescribed pain medication has run out it is important to have regular strength medication, such as Tylenol.
- Stop smoking. Smoking can lead to post-op complications and most doctors will refuse to operate if you still have nicotine in your system. You will normally need to stop smoking 2-4 weeks before surgery.
- Have someone ready to help you out around the house for the first week or two. You may need someone for physical support and/or to do things around the house such as light cleaning, laundry, etc.
- Make a list of things you will need for the first few weeks. This will include clear liquids, clear soups, sugar-free jello, small food containers that are perfect for your new, smaller portions, and protein powder. Make some post-op friendly meals and freeze them into small portions. Remember that they must be high in protein and nutritional value but very low in fat and sugar.
- Get proper nutrition before surgery. Ensure your body is ready for the surgery and the recovery phase — Eat a proper and varied diet will lots of protein and vegetables. This will help get your body in the best possible shape before having gastric bypass surgery.
- Read up on the surgery. Make sure you are well educated on your procedure and know what to expect. Talk to others who have already had a gastric bypass and join a support group. Online support groups, such as RealSelf, can provide support, expert knowledge and anonymity.
Tips for A Better Recovery
The way you eat and drink changes after you have weight loss surgery. The following tips help you to be healthy, successfully lose weight, and maintain weight loss after bariatric surgery:
- Supplement vitamins to ensure you are receiving nutrition. Keeping up a regimen of multivitamins will ensure you remain healthy while eating the reduced amounts of food post op. This will be something you will need to do for the rest of your life, so start as soon as possible and you will get into a routine of taking them.
- Drink at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water every day. This can be hard because of the reduced stomach size. However, your body needs this water and without it you will most likely suffer complications such as hair loss, eyesight problems, dry skin, etc.
- Stay away from anything high in sugar and fat. Foods high in sugar and fat are also very high in calories and you will be required to consume very few calories post-op. High sugar and fatty foods can also bring about dumping syndrome, which causes vomiting and abdominal cramps almost immediately after consuming.
- Never drink large amounts before a meal. It is crucial that your stomach gets filled with nutrient-rich foods at meal time, not liquids. You should not drink anything for at least 40 minutes before a meal and 20-30 minutes after eating.
- Never drink any alcoholic or carbonated drinks. Alcohol and soda are full of empty calories and will upset your stomach. They are also not recommended because of the way your new stomach and small intestine have been structured. Your doctor will explain in detail the consequences of drinking these items and the complications they can cause.
- Consult your Dr. Alejandro Lopez before taking any medication. Many drugs can cause nausea and slow the healing process.
- Exercise. Make sure that as soon as you are able get out and walk you do so. It is easy for muscles to stiffen up, it’s not good to sit and you will shed weight even faster with exercise. Start small with a walk around your yard or neighborhood and build from there. As you lose weight, exercise will become easier and more pleasurable.
- Learn to listen to your body. Only eat when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full. For the first few weeks you will be eating no more than a 1/4 cup of food per meal. Eventually, after a few months you may get up to 1 cup of food per meal. It is not recommended that you eat any more than this. The surgery will leave you unable to eat at some typical meal times so listen to your body; don’t eat just because others are eating.
- Prepare for some small disappointments. At some point your weight will plateau and you will stop losing weight, or you may even begin to regain a few pounds. This is usually because you need to make a further change. You may need to reduce how much food you are eating, re-think the types of food you’re eating or increase how much exercise you’re doing. Don’t panic — You won’t lose something every week. If the plateau or weight gain goes on for more than a few weeks, speak to your doctor and together you will get back on the right track.
- Be realistic. The surgery won’t change your life all on its own. A gastric bypass isn’t the solution, it’s a tool that you must learn to master. You must eat the right foods, exercise and learn what is right for your body.