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Life After Bariatric Surgery

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Life After Bariatric Surgery

When diet and exercise are not enough to lose weight and improve obesity-related complications, you may consider bariatric surgery. However, the operation is only the beginning of a new and healthier life. To enjoy the lifelong physical and mental benefits of weight loss surgery, you must actively make an effort every day. 

"Many people are surprised to learn that bariatric surgery isn't a quick fix," said Katie Hanisee, MD, FACS, FASMBS, fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Archbold Bariatric Surgery and Weight Loss Program. "Bariatric surgery is one of many valuable options in your toolbox." 

If bariatric surgery is on your radar, you must commit to a few key lifestyle habits.

Move to Maintain

After bariatric surgery, you will need to begin exercising as soon as possible. You may be up and walking around the same day as your surgery. 

You will work your way up to more intense exercise under the guidance of your care team. You may begin jogging, biking or lifting weights. Whichever activity you perform, the goal is to move for at least 30 minutes every day. Take the time you need to achieve this. With patience and a consistent routine, you can set yourself up for success. 

By exercising regularly, you will continue to lose weight and keep it off. Exercise also encourages a healthy mindset, which makes it easier to make other sensible choices. 

Practice Portion Control 

After bariatric surgery, your stomach is smaller. That's why good nutrition is so important. Because you will be eating less, you want to focus on eating more high quality food. 

You'll be on a special liquid diet for the first few weeks after surgery. Within six weeks, you will begin eating solids. When you do, general dietary guidelines include: 

  • Drink plenty of fluids. Water helps your body heal from surgery. 
  • Power up on protein. This important nutrient preserves your muscle mass and helps with wound healing. Good sources include nuts, beans, eggs, poultry or fish. Generally, you will want to eat between 60 and 100 grams of protein each day. 
  • Take your supplements. Bariatric surgery makes it more difficult for your body to absorb vitamins and minerals. Your healthcare provider can guide you on which supplements to take and how much. 

On top of changing what you eat, you'll need to change how you eat. You will transition from three large meals to six small meals daily. You will also cut out all snacking. Additionally, take at least 30 minutes to eat each meal. 

"After bariatric surgery, eating is a bit more of an event," said Dr. Hanisee. "You have to take small bites, chew more than usual, and avoid drinking anything for an hour before or after meals. It takes effort, but patients insist that the long-term benefits of weight loss are worth it."

Commit to Cleaner Living

If you are a smoker, you must quit before bariatric surgery and stay smoke-free after the procedure. 

You should avoid more than cigarettes during the days and years after your surgery. You must also set a goal to cut back on: 

  • Alcohol 
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Excess carbohydrates, fats and sugar

Don't Forget to Follow Up

After surgery, you will continue checking in with your doctor. The follow-up schedule for bariatric surgery is more intense than most procedures. Long after your incisions heal, you will continue seeing your bariatric team. These regular consultations have a purpose: helping you navigate life after surgery. 

"Bariatric surgery has given many in the South Georgia and North Florida region a second chance at being healthy," Dr. Hanisee said. "Having yearly visits with your bariatric team is the final piece of the puzzle. By keeping these appointments, you have the best chance to lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life." 

Visit to find out which weight loss options are right for you, or call 229.463.0502 to schedule a consultation.