Life After Bariatric Surgery
Tuesday, 6 August 2019 | Paul
Seeking medical help with your weight loss journey is too often branded as taking the easy way out, when this couldn't be farther from the truth. The decision to have bariatric surgery comes with a life-long commitment to doing everything in your power to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy body. It's a big step in any person's life, and one that should never be taken lightly.
This article isn't here to decide for you, but we have done our best to answer all the most common questions you might be struggling with, helping you to make an informed decision. Below you will find six steps that will guide you through the process, including a brief overview of what bariatric surgery is, what you can expect from it, how long it will take you to fully recover, and what you can do to make the most of this experience.
What Is Bariatric Surgery?
If you've already had the surgery, or are decided that you will have it in the near future, you're probably all too familiar with the process, so feel free to skip this part. However, if you're only considering taking this important step in your life, it's always a good idea to go over the basics one more time.
Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery or metabolic surgery, is used as a treatment for people who meet certain criteria. According to the NHS, these include:
Types of Bariatric Surgery
There are many different types of weight loss surgery, and the right one for your depends on your specific situation. The three most common types include:
Recovery After Bariatric Surgery
After bariatric surgery, you can expect to leave the hospital after one to three days, and start to return to your normal activities four to six weeks later. Your doctor or dietitian will provide you with an exact plan with recommended food and water intakes that you need to follow.
What Can I Eat Right After the Surgery?
This depends on your specific situation, buy typically you will be required to follow a plan similar to this:
Your new, healthy diet should include a high protein intake, between 60g and 80g daily. The body needs additional protein during rapid weight loss to maintain your muscle mass, as well as maintain a healthy metabolism. You will also be required to take vitamin and mineral supplements, most notably multivitamin, vitamin D, calcium, iron and vitamin B12, to compensate for vitamin malabsorption caused by the operation.
How Much Water Will I Need?
Dehydration is the most common reason for re-admission to the hospital. When recovering from this surgery, you may feel nauseous, which can quickly lead to forgetting to drink plenty of fluids.
You should be drinking at least 1.8 litres of fluid, preferably water, per day. The best sign to tell if you're properly hydrated is if you're making clean, light-coloured urine five to 10 times per day.
Do I Need to Avoid Caffeine?
It's a good idea to avoid caffeine for the first 30 days after surgery, while your stomach is still extra sensitive. After that, you can resume your coffee habit, but remember to avoid sugary, high-calorie options.
Do I Need to Avoid Alcohol?
The absorption of alcohol changes with gastric bypass and gastric sleeve surgery, because an enzyme in the stomach that usually begins to digest alcohol is absent or greatly reduced. This is why alcohol may be absorbed more quickly, and also more potent.
Moreover, alcohol is high in calories, but has no nutritional value, which means that it will work against your weight loss goal. For all those reasons, it's recommended to avoid alcohol after bariatric surgery.
Can an Abdominal Binder Help with My Recovery?
Adopting a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are the best ways to ensure a quick and successful recovery from bariatric surgery. However, wearing an abdominal binder can make your recovery more pleasant, and even help with your weight loss process. An abdominal binder can:
Below you can find our top picks for abdominal binders that are perfect for recovery after bariatric surgery.
Deep Abdominal Binder
This abdominal binder is 23cm (9") deep and offers strong but comfortable support for your lower back, middle back and abdomen. It is available in a broad range of sizes, suitable for waist circumference from 22 inches (56cm), and all the way up to 43 inches (109cm).
It features a wraparound design with simple anterior touch-and-close fastening, fully bound edges and a soft padded front panel. Moreover, the high-quality elastic materials ensure excellent breathability and comfort even if you wear the support for longer periods of time.
Thermoskin Abdominal Belt
The Thermoskin Abdominal Binder provides gentle compression and support for abdominal injury and post-op recovery. It was designed to provide pain relief for rib and abdomen-related injuries, as it can support your surgical incision, relieve pain, reduce swelling, and get you moving.
Moreover, it's supplied in a universal size that should fit most users. It's made from nylon and rubber, which ensures the belt contours perfectly to the shape of you mid-section
Abdominal Binder Support
Similar to the Deep Abdominal Binder, this Abdominal Binder Support offers strong yet comfortable support for your lower back and abdomen. It is only 16.5cm (6.5") deep, which makes it a bit more comfortable to wear.
The extra support and compression this binder provides can not only help with discomfort when recovering from surgery, but also reduce swelling, help the incision site, and even hold in your hanging skin once you've lost weight. It's available in a very broad range of sizes, suitable for waist circumference from 22 inches (56cm), and all the way up to 48 inches (122cm).
What Results Can I Realistically Expect After Weight Loss Surgery?
The main reason behind your decision to have bariatric surgery is probably to lose weight; and you will. The exact amount of weight you will lose depends on various factors, including your current weight and the type of surgery you get.
On average people lose about 40 - 60% of their extra weight, most of which drops in the first three to six months after surgery. Moreover, you are likely to experience an improvement of any weight-related conditions you may have, such as type 2 diabetes or sleep apnoea. It's important to talk to your doctor about your expectation, so that you know what is and isn't feasible.
Will My Diet Change Permanently?
In order to keep the weight off long-term, it's important that you make permanent changes to your diet. This includes standard recommendations of eating plenty of lean protein, complex carbs, fresh fruits and vegetables, and most importantly, to avoid processed foods rich in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Moreover, you will also be required to make a lifelong habit of taking daily vitamin and mineral supplements.
It's possible that your food preferences will change after surgery, and that your body will no longer be able to handle certain foods that you once enjoyed. Having new preferences is not a negative thing, and can lead to more weight loss.
How Much Exercise Is Recommended?
While physical activity is very important for long-term weight management, you need to start gradually when your body is still recovering. Once you feel strong enough to start exercising, aim to do activities that are intense enough to leave you feeling out of breath and make your heart beat faster for at least 150 minutes a week, or 20 minutes a day.
This should include aerobic, resistance and flexibility exercises. It's best to pick activities that you enjoy, as this will make it easier to stick with your new lifestyle.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As with every life-altering procedure, bariatric surgery comes with its own set of side effects. Some of the most common post-op risks include acid reflux, chronic nausea or vomiting, infection, and inability to eat certain foods. Longer-term risks include low blood sugar, dumping syndrome, malnutrition, ulcers, bowel obstruction, hernia, and excess skin.