Gastric bypass surgery alone will not help one lose weight, but it is a very effective tool to help one achieve significant and permanent weight loss. Overall weight loss success will depend on a total commitment to lifestyle changes including eating smaller portions of healthy food and exercising regularly.
Following gastric bypass surgery, you will not be able to eat too many things right away. The recovery diet will progress from liquids to pureed foods to soft foods over the first three months before you start eating solid foods. The slow food progression is necessary for proper healing after surgery, especially at the surgical sites, and to allow your body to get used to new ways of eating.
The first few days will be limited to drinking small amounts of fluids. This will be liquids such as water, broth, juice, and milk. After a few days, pureed foods will slowly be added to the diet. Pureed food items might include clear broths and soups, low-fat yogurt, Jell-O, and any foods that are blended and do not contain any distinct pieces of food. A pureed diet is generally recommended for at least a few weeks.
Your doctor will monitor your recovery and let you know when your body is ready to progress to soft foods. This light diet will include foods that are tender and easy to chew, such as canned or soft fresh fruit without skins, well-cooked and tender vegetables, scrambled eggs, ground or finely diced meat. Patients are usually on a soft diet for about eight weeks before their doctor gives the okay to begin eating regular meals.
The amount of time it takes to resume pre-surgery levels of activity after gastric bypass surgery will vary based on a patient's physical condition, nature of the activity, and the type of gastric procedure performed. Many patients recover within six to eight weeks of their operation, while it may only be a few weeks for patients who had a less invasive procedure.
Pregnancy places added demands on your body and there is the potential for fetal damage if pregnancy occurs too soon after weight loss surgery. It is strongly advised that women avoid getting pregnant and to use the most effective forms of birth control for the first two years after weight loss surgery if they are of childbearing age and sexually active.
Many of the long-term effects of weight loss surgery on nutrition and body systems are still unknown. The effects of nutritional deficiencies that occur over a period of many years is not certain. Periodic tests will need to be done to check for anemia and to test the level of Vitamin B12, folate and iron in the blood. Follow-up tests are usually scheduled every three to six months or as needed, and then every one to two years.
Most bariatric surgeons will advise their patients to include both nutritional and psychological counseling as part of their weight loss treatment. It is important for the patient to learn new, healthier eating patterns and to include exercise as part of their new lifestyle. Passing a psychological exam is also one of the gastric bypass surgery qualifications. Weight loss support groups are another great place for finding help with weight loss after surgery and for assistance with questions and needs that one might have. Since weight loss surgery cannot erase the emotional pain that was either the cause or result of being morbidly obese, many doctors will want their patients to participate in psychological counseling to help resolve the emotional issues that one has. Patients who receive ongoing post-surgical support show the greatest level of success with weight loss surgery.
Exercise will be an important part of your weight loss program after gastric bypass surgery. As soon as possible after surgery, your surgeon will want you up and walking. You will start out slowly with your exercising and then gradually increase the amount and intensity of your workouts. Exercise not only helps to burn calories, but it builds and preserves muscle tissue. Because you will be on a reduced diet and losing weight rapidly, your body will turn to energy reserves in the body for the fuel it needs to function. Unless you exercise, the body will first burn thru muscle tissue rather than fat tissue to function. Exercise will protect your muscle tissue and help burn fat tissue. Also, if you don't exercise you will have to eat less and less food over time. The recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes of walking each day and 30 minutes of strength and resistance training each week.
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