Life after Weight Loss Surgery - What to Expect

Ramsay Health Care UK | 10/06/2015

Life after Weight Loss Surgery

life-after-wls
If you’re considering having weight loss surgery it’s best to think of your surgery as just one tool in your tool bag to help you lose weight. You’ll also need to be committed to a specific and restricted diet, an exercise plan, to changing your behaviour and making lifestyle changes. It won’t all be plane sailing and there are some profound life changes and emotional effects for you to be aware of and to think about before you embark on this lifelong journey.

Diet

As your body recovers from surgery, it’s essential that you follow the specific eating guidelines given to you by your multi-disciplinary team. Post-surgery dietary guidelines will vary depending on the type of weight loss procedure you choose to have.

Immediately following weight loss surgery you will not be able to eat at all. Your recovery diet will slowly progress from clear liquids to full liquids, pureed food, soft foods, and then you will finally be able to start eating solid foods. You may be recommended to take vitamin and mineral supplements on a daily basis to prevent nutrient deficiencies. After weight loss surgery the difference in your body will make it physically easier to adjust your eating habits.

Here are some guidelines for a healthy diet when you start eating solid food:

• Aim for three small meals a day.
• Eat the protein foods first as these are the most important.
• Choose healthy, low fat/sugar solid dry textured foods that will fill you up quicker and for longer.
• All meals should be eaten slowly and food should be thoroughly chewed. Aim for about 15 chews per bite so that the food turns to mush and 25 minutes for each meal.
• Stop eating when you feel full or tightness in your chest, even if you haven't finished your meal.
• Don’t eat and drink at the same time. This can flush food out of your stomach pouch and make you feel less full or it can overfill your pouch leading to vomiting and stretching.
• Limit snacking between meals.
• Avoid carbonated drinks and drink alcohol in moderation

Exercise

Exercise is essential for bariatric patients to achieve long term success in their goals to lose weight and maintain their desired weight whilst living a healthy lifestyle.

After your weight loss surgery you will be encouraged to be on your feet and walking about as soon as possible. Try and go for several short walks each day and increase the intensity and distance as it feels comfortable.

Working with your multi disciplinary team you can develop a program that takes into consideration your personal exercise preferences, ability and your goals for weight loss and a healthy active lifestyle. Low impact exercise such as swimming, cycling and walking are ideal for bariatric patients. It’s important that you choose exercise that you enjoy, and do it regularly. As you lose weight you may choose some toning exercise, combining weight resistance exercise with light weights, to help tighten excess skin.

Read our blog post: Exercise After Weight Loss Surgery - 7 Things You Need Top Know

Cosmetic issues

Losing a great deal of weight following weight loss surgery changes the shape and contour of your body. You may be left with excess skin around your abdomen, thighs, buttocks, breasts, upper arms, face and neck. You might consider cosmetic surgery to improve your body’s appearance and also for medical reasons.

If you choose cosmetic surgery your cosmetic surgeon will work with you and make recommendations about the best options to address your problematic areas.

Tummy tuck, apronectomy, thigh lift, lower body lift, breast surgery, arm lift and facelift are some of the most common cosmetic procedures after the weight loss surgery.

It’s recommended that you wait at least 18 months following your weight loss surgery before having cosmetic surgery to allow your skin to shrink as much as possible and your weight loss to stabilise.

Read our blog post: Cosmetic surgery after weight loss surgery

Health problems

As you lose weight quickly over the first 3 to 6 months, you may feel tired or cold at times. You may also have body aches, dry skin and hair loss or thinning.

These problems should go away as your body gets used to the weight loss and your weight becomes stable. It’s important that you keep to the diet recommendations made by your bariatric surgeon to ensure you’re getting enough protein and are not suffering from any nutritional deficiencies as a result of your new diet.

Emotional adjustments

Having weight-loss surgery causes a ripple effect and many areas of your life will change. You will often experience changes in your emotional state such as anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Anxiety after weight loss surgery may result as you try to embrace an entirely new way of eating and a newly emerging body. You may go through a phase where you have difficulty realising the new you and you may ask yourself “who is that thin person?”

Your new smaller body may give you added confidence and this can affect many areas of your life including your career, relationships in your marriage and friendships and your spirituality. Alternatively losing a massive amount of weight can make you feel vulnerable and afraid. You may like to “blend in” with the crowd, but all of a sudden you are now the focus of attention with people watching what you eat and asking how much weight you’ve lost and this can make you feel uncomfortable.

You may become sad or depressed after having weight-loss surgery. The reality of life after surgery may not exactly match your hopes or expectations before surgery. You may be surprised that you still hold certain habits, feelings, attitudes, or worries. You may have thought you would no longer miss food after surgery, and the urge to eat high-calorie foods would be gone. You may miss certain social rituals such as sharing food with friends or family, eating certain foods, or eating out with friends.

You may go through phases where you long for food. This is also known as “food grief.” It is as if we long for our “friend” of food. We turn to food in times of celebration, sadness, for reward and for comfort. When you can no longer turn to food to fill the void then you must find other ways.

Insomnia affects some people after weight loss surgery, although we don’t know why.

Sensory changes

Sensory changes such as changes in appetite, taste and smell often occur for weight loss surgery patients. These are not all negative, and can lead to more weight loss among patients.

Support Groups


The widespread use of support groups has provided weight loss surgery patients with an excellent opportunity to discuss their various personal and professional issues. In addition to holding you accountable for your actions, support groups give you an outlet to discuss matters and situations with people who are going through the same experience¹.

Alternatively you may consider joining an online support group to help you lose and maintain your weight.

Read more weight loss surgery blog posts to find answers to the most common questions including: cosmetic surgery after weight loss surgery, pros and cons of gastric balloon and gastric sleeve, how to choose a weight loss surgeon, exercise after weight loss surgery etc.

About Ramsay Health Care weight loss surgery

Ramsay Health Care is a leading provider of weight loss surgery in the UK. Our highly qualified and experienced bariatric surgeons will discuss with you the best weight loss options for your individual needs.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss bariatric surgery in more detail.

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References

¹ http://www.bariatric-surgery-source.com/life-after-weight-loss-surgery.html

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