Weight Loss Surgery Recovery Times
The process leading up to a weight loss surgery is generally long and involved, with many visits to surgeons, nutritionists and even psychologists before the actual surgery is performed. While it is easy to think of bariatric surgery as a magical solution for weight management, it is important to remember that the real work begins once a patient comes home from the hospital.
Depending on the type of surgery or procedure performed, doctors usually recommend taking 3-8 weeks off from work to fully recover. Immediately after the surgery, patients must adhere to a liquid diet for their first two to three weeks at home. After this initial phase you will meet with your nutritionist or surgeon, and they will explain how to reintroduce soft and solid foods slowly over the course of two to three months.
A soft foods diet allows your system to acclimate to more complex foods without putting too much strain on the new stomach yet. At this point, it is important to focus on consuming lots of high-protein foods. These include eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, soft fish, beans and soft cheeses. Most bread, rice, pasta, stringy cheese, peanut butter and anything sticky should be avoided as the stomach continues to heal. Raw vegetables, popcorn, tough meat and anything high in fat can be a problem for a new stomach pouch, potentially getting stuck or causing severe discomfort or pain.
During this time (3-5 weeks post-surgery) patients can return to most of their normal activities, including working and light exercise. Most surgeons will recommend a daily walking regimen to both help with the recovery process and promote additional weight loss. People who adopt an exercise routine early on are less likely to regain weight down the road.
Approximately 10-12 weeks after your surgery, solid and “regular” foods can be eaten again. The first few weeks of a solid food diet should incorporate lean meats, low-fat dairy, fruits and vegetables as the new stomach will tolerate them. Because the stomach will now only hold a few ounces of food at a time, it is important to get a variety of nutrients in each meal. For optimum success, focus on high-quality foods and avoid junk or snack foods high in fat and sugar.
Weight loss after a bariatric surgery will be most dramatic for the first 6-12 months, and can continue for the next 1-4 years. The length of time during which weight continues to be lost is based largely on the new eating and exercise habits of the patient. Following your surgeon’s advice as closely as possible will ensure that you lose as much excess weight as possible. Though the initial recovery period lasts only a few weeks, the eating and exercise changes required will be lifelong.
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment to see one of our surgeons, call our office at (516) 616-5500 or fill out our contact form to start a conversation now.