Recovering from bariatric surgery takes time and patience. Learn what to expect after recovering from bariatric surgery.
One to Two Days Post-op
At this time, your bariatric surgeon will be monitoring your progress by seeing how well you tolerate low-sugar, non-carbonated liquids such as water, tea, broth, or diluted juices.3 Sugar-free gelatin is another option.
Post -op Diet
Your bariatric program will provide you with specific information about what to eat after surgery, but here are some generally accepted guidelines to give you an idea of what to expect.
- Your stomach will be very small, and so will your portions. You should only eat a few tablespoonfuls at a time.
- Use a cup to drink. Avoid sipping from a bottle or straw—you could swallow too much air and get gas.
- Many patients are able to consume about 16 to 24 ounces, roughly two to three glasses, of protein shake each day.
- Sugar-Free Foods Artificial sweeteners such as Splenda®, Equal®, and Sweet’N Low® are calorie-free alternatives to sugar.3Most bariatric surgery patients are able to tolerate artificial sweeteners in moderation.
- Hydrating is critical
- Sip a minimum of 64 ounces of water each day
- Sip calorie-free liquids frequently—when not eating
- Do not drink while eating
- Stop drinking on half hour before eating.
- Wait at least one hour after eating to begin drinking again.
Getting enough nutrients is key to your diet. With limited ability to absorb nutrients and calories, we recommend taking a multivitamin and chewable calcium citrate supplements every day.
Healthy protein sources
- Lean meats
- Eggs, especially the whites
- Dairy products
- Protein shakes or supplements
- Plain chicken broth: no noodles or bits of chicken
- Lean meats or poultry pureed in a blender
- Scrambled or soft-boiled eggs
- Low-fat or skim milk
- Low-fat yogurt
- Low-fat frozen yogurt
- Beans: split pea soup or fat-free refried beans
- Unsweetened applesauce
- Mashed ripe bananas
- Diet frozen juice bars
- Eat slowly. Plan on spending about 30 minutes eating a meal
- Chew thoroughly so your food is ground into a smooth consistency and able to pass through your stomach
- Cut up meat to the size of a pencil eraser before eating
- Stop eating before you feel full
Post-op: One to Two Days
Your surgical team will likely have you up and walking or doing other leg exercises as soon after surgery as possible. Walking and leg exercises after surgery help patients avoid deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that can form in veins.
Post-op: First Few Weeks
Bariatric programs generally recommend that patients start exercise as soon after surgery as possible. You will need to discuss specific details with your surgeon, but most patients are able to walk for at least a few minutes each day. It’s a low-impact activity and a great introduction to exercising.
Patients with a very high Body Mass Index (BMI) (70 or higher) frequently cannot walk for more than a minute or two at a time. However, the average bariatric surgery patient has a much lower BMI and is able to tolerate walking for a bit longer. Regardless of yourBMI, be patient and work at your own pace.
Tips for the First Few Weeks
- Consult your bariatric program about your exercise plans.
- If you’re unsure how to start exercising, begin by walking for five minutes, five times each week.
- Gradually increase the amount of time you spend exercising by adding a few minutes each week.
- Do not accept fatigue as an excuse to not be physically active.If you experience significant fatigue, you may want to discuss it with your surgeon.
Post-op Diet: One Month to Lifetime
If you tolerate the pureed diet well, your bariatric team will likely recommend that you begin to incorporate solid soft foods at week six.
You should slowly incorporate small amounts of new foods—a few tablespoons rather than a half-cup. Everyone encounters problems with some foods; it’s perfectly normal. If you do have a poor reaction to a certain food, you always can try it again in a week or so.
Hydration Is Still Important
Hydration will continue to be important. Hydrate with more than 64 ounces of water, calorie-free or very-low-calorie drinks, and diet frozen juice bars. Beverages such as fruit juices contain calories, which will slow down your weight loss or cause you to lose less weight than you could.
Proteins and Nutrients
You still need 75 grams of protein each day. This translates to about 4 ounces of lean meat, three times each day which is not possible with your limited stomach capacity, so protein supplements are typically necessary.
Typically around the three month stage you will be able to switch from chewable multivitamins to those in pill form.
When it comes to calcium, calcium citrate is the best-absorbed calcium. Some calcium supplements contain vitamin D and magnesium to aid in absorption.
Your surgeon may prescribe iron supplements as well.
Tips to Follow
- Incorporate new foods in small amounts.
- Avoid foods and beverages high in fat and/or sugar.
- Chew your food thoroughly.
- Eat slowly.
- If your stomach feels irritated, let it recover by consuming liquids in place of the next meal or two.
Examples of Healthy Lifetime Foods
- Protein shakes or supplements
- Lean ground beef, chicken, turkey, or pork
- Cottage cheese
- Low-fat cheese
- Soft pasta
- Cooked or canned fruits and vegetables (avoid starchy vegetables such as corn)
- Whole-grain cereals and breads
- Post-op Physical Activity
- Regular exercise, next to following your bariatric program’s dietary guidelines, is an important factor when it comes to optimizing your health outcomes and quality of life after bariatric surgery. Check out the following information for what to expect and for helpful tips.