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by Alicia Lam Taracido
Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, involves a wide variety of procedures designed to reduce the volume of fat in a person's body. For some, one method is called G astric Bypass Surgery. The method that is used is often dependent on the patient's required degree of weight loss and medical history. Patients normally take at least a couple of weeks to a month to recover completely from the effects of bariatric surgery.
In the immediate aftermath of bariatric surgery, patients often spend a couple of days recovering in the hospital and longer if any unforeseen complications develop. The patient's vitals are monitored closely and the patient is normally encouraged to perform a couple of simple exercises to help reduce the possibility of complications. It is not uncommon to experience post-surgery symptoms such as nausea, pain, vomiting, flatulence, and other symptoms after surgery. If you feel like you are experiencing anything for a prolonged period of time, consult your doctors and nurses.
You will need to follow a rigorous diet and exercise schedule in the immediate aftermath of your surgery. Your doctor will provide you with a comprehensive liquid diet plan to follow for at least 4-8 weeks before you can start eating solid foods again. Patients are expected to commit to healthy habits in order to reap the benefits of their surgery and if possible, lose even more excess weight.
Most patients visit their doctors on a bi-weekly basis right after the surgery for checkups. Your instructions will be based on your personal requirements. The time between appointments will gradually increase and become an annual affair after the first year.
During the first couple of days after surgery, you should do no more than light walking for short periods. You won't have any energy as your body will be adjusting to your new diet. You will be resting for most of this period.
During the first few weeks after surgery, feeling a little weak and getting tired easily is quite normal. Hence, your exercise regimen should be limited to light activities such as short walks. You will need to be physically active to speed up the recovery process, but be careful of over exertion. Avoid any forms of strenuous exercise. Patients are normally advised to walk at least three times a day for no more than ten minutes at a time. Going to the gym is not advised at this stage, but check with your surgeon to see if it’s possible.
After the first 2-3 weeks, your surgeon will normally approve of increased physical activity based on your fitness levels. Most patients find water aerobics to be an excellent option as it is a good form of cardiovascular exercise while being easy on your weight-bearing joints. Low-impact aerobic exercises are normally good during this stage.
After 2-3 months, you will normally be allowed to intensify your exercise routine, but heavy lifting will mostly be a no go. You can normally start jogging at this stage and increase the amount of aerobic exercises. Most surgeons typically advise patients to avoid weight lifting for at least six months after surgery.
Following a specific diet is often the most crucial aspect of your recovery. You will not be able to eat any solid foods for at least four weeks, but most patients begin eating solids only after 6-8 weeks.
You will not be able to eat for the first couple of days after surgery and you probably won't feel like eating anyway. Your initial dietary requirements may be as low as one ounce at first. For the first couple of weeks, your liquid food should be mostly water-like. Adding powdered protein to this mixture is of utmost importance. Your body needs at least 80mg of proteins per day and this is harder to maintain during the first two weeks after surgery, but important regardless. In this period, patients are typically advised to sup a few ounces of their meals on an hourly basis instead of drinking all at once, as the body will be unable to handle it. Your blender will become your best friend at this point.
Starting from the third week onwards, your liquids can thicker but even small solid bits are a complete no go. Avoid carbonated drinks and caffeine like the plague. Consumption of caffeine is one of the number one causes for readmission of patients. You will normally be advised to consume meals no larger three ounces at least four times a day. You will also feel full very quickly. The common foods at this point involve pureed meats, finely grounded fresh fruits, yogurt smoothies, and cream soups.
Doctors normally give patients the go ahead to eat solid foods about two months after the surgery. Patients are unable to tolerate spicy and crunch foods immediately after starting solids. You will have to eat food that is completely cooked, and avoid anything raw as raw foods may be too much for your system. Consult your doctor and devise a proper dietary plan.
Adjusting to a completely new lifestyle after surgery can be a difficult process both emotionally and physically. Consider joining a bariatric support group in order to aid your recovery and improve your mental well-being. Numerous patients have reported that their quality of life improved after joining support groups. You will be able to voice your views and the difficulties you face in a safe environment where people will really understand what you are talking about.
Recovery is a long and arduous process so it is essential that you remain mentally strong. Remember that surgery is not a quick fix, but the first step in the entire weight loss process. There's a reason why doctors and hospitals drone on about making lifestyle changes after the surgery in order to see enhanced results. Without a fixed diet and exercise regimen you are unlikely to see any significant changes in the months following your surgery. The patients who experience the most success are the ones who have committed completely to the idea of lifestyle adjustment.