Life After Surgery
The following area of note should be considered after weight loss surgery.
Permanent changes to your diet are required after weight loss surgery due to changes in your gastrointestinal tract. Each surgeon may have different post-surgery dietary recommendations and it is possible to hear of different patients who were given varying dietary suggestions. Not every surgeon will perform exactly the same weight loss surgery and this is an important factor in the variations in dietary recommendations. The most important thing is that you maintain strict adherence to your surgeon’s guidelines. Below are some general recommendations that a weight loss surgery patient may receive.
- For Lap Band patients - When you resume eating solid food, you must chew your food completely. Steaks or other chunks of meat will be indigestible unless chewed or ground thoroughly.
- For Lap Band patients - Abstain from consuming fluids while eating as this will make you feel as though you are full before you have eaten enough food.
- Always eat your protein first and get your recommended grams of protein in every day.
- Eliminate from your diet foods that have sugar listed among the first three ingredients and sweet desserts.
- Eliminate carbonated drinks, milkshakes, high fat foods, high calorie nutritional supplements, and foods high in fiber. Do not drink through a straw.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Do not snack between meals. Eat the recommended number of meals per day and eat until satisfied.
Patients of Dr. Merriman who have questions about eating plans, please contact our office at 318.222.3132 and press extension #6 for our Dietitian, Lisa Stansbury.
Returning to Work
Your physical condition will determine your ability to resume pre-surgery activity levels. It will also be dependent upon the type of surgery you had and the nature of the activity you are participating in. Many patients take about six weeks to return to pre-surgery activity levels. For those who have undergone a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure, normal activities may be able to be resumed within a few weeks. Dr. Merriman will release you for both work and exercise in stages, when medically appropriate for you.
Pregnancy & Birth Control
For the first 16 to 24 months after weight loss surgery, it is highly advisable that women who are of childbearing age take the most effective birth control possible. The additional demands and strains that pregnancy places on the body and the possibility of fetal harm make this a primary requirement. If you become pregnant, please consult with Dr. Merriman immediately.
Long Term Follow-Up
The short term effects of weight loss surgery are more well known than the long term effects. Questions remain about the long term effects of surgery on body systems and nutrition. The nutritional deficiencies that may ensue after many years still need to be examined. Following your surgery, you will need periodic checks on your vitamin retention including tests for anemia (low red blood cell count), folate, iron, and vitamin B12 levels. Please follow instructions from Dr. Merriman on daily vitamin supplementation. The initial three to six months will require regular follow up visits or on an as needed basis. Following that, you will need one every one to two years.
Weight loss surgery patients have an excellent opportunity to talk about their professional and personal issues in the safe and welcoming environment that a support group provides. For example, the majority of support group members learn that weight loss surgery in and of itself will not heal past and present emotional damage. It can’t heal the emotional damage that years of morbid obesity may have inflicted. Ongoing post surgical support is highly recommended by bariatric surgeons who frequently perform weight loss surgery and this support results in the highest levels of success.
For additional information on Surgical Specialists patient support, view the Resources - Postoperative Patient Support section of our website.