BARIATRIC AND METABOLIC SURGERY RECOVERY EXPECTATIONS
Recovering from bariatric and metabolic surgery generally takes at least 2 to 8 weeks.
The exact amount of time needed depends not only on which procedure you chose, but also your own body’s natural healing process.
Be sure to follow your bariatric and metabolic team’s diet and recovery plan carefully. Your safety and success depends upon it. Their guidance and recommendations are in your best interest and will help you recover as quickly as possible.
We put together a sample recovery plan to give you a general idea of what to expect during your recovery. This plan may differ from your actual plan, which will be tailored to your specific needs.
Recovery in the first 2 weeks
- Immediately after bariatric and metabolic surgery you will start with a clear liquid diet and slowly progress to a full liquid diet.
- You'll be encouraged to slowly sip at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, noncarbonated fluids each day to stay hydrated.
- You will need to avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages.
- You will be told to take walks and stay mobile. Pneumonia and blood clots are two risks for anyone who has had surgery.
- You will need to use caution when bending at the waist and picking up heavy objects.
- Your healthcare team will advise you when you can return to work depending on your employment, the required physical activity, and your progress.
Bariatric and metabolic surgery pain
- A few days after any type of abdominal surgery, many people have pain that radiates to the shoulder and neck. This is normal. The pain should go away in a few days. However, if the pain persists, consult your physician.
Recovery from 3 to 6 weeks
- You will begin eating soft foods and progress toward solid foods, around 1 month after surgery.
- If you feel nauseated or regurgitate when you start eating soft foods, you will go back to a liquid diet and wait a few more days before trying soft foods again. If you have abdominal pain that lasts more than 3 hours, you will need to contact your surgeon right away.
- The solid foods you can incorporate will be protein-rich, such as lean meat, eggs, and low-fat dairy products (yogurt or cheese), as well as starches and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- You will avoid raw vegetables, fruits with skin, nuts, popcorn, tough meats, stringy foods, and crusty bread, like bagels and pretzels. If you have a gastric band, including these foods in your diet after bariatric and metabolic surgery may block your stoma (the small opening between the upper and lower stomach pouches).
- You will avoid high-sugar, high-fat, or high-calorie foods because they can cause dumping syndrome, which is as unpleasant as it sounds.
- You will drink at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, noncarbonated fluids each day to stay hydrated.
- You will avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol, and high-calorie drinks like milkshakes, smoothies, and specialty coffee drinks.
- If you are a gastric bypass patient, you must supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin and calcium because your body will absorb fewer nutrients after surgery.
- You will continue walking and add aerobic exercises such as cycling, jogging, and swimming.
- Your abdominal muscles will be healing, so lift with caution and do not perform any abdominal exercises unless your healthcare team allows it.
- Many patients have their first adjustment after eating solid foods for 1 week. If you are losing 1 to 2 pounds a week and feel satisfied with an appropriate portion of food, you may not need an adjustment. Your doctor will determine when you need an adjustment.
Weight loss expectations
Many people find that the weight comes off quickly during the first few months after bariatric surgery. However, the pace of weight loss will likely slow down. Don't be discouraged if you're not losing weight as fast as you had hoped. With the right tools, habits, and support, you can get there.
Set small, achievable goals
Establishing a healthy lifestyle takes time. You may not be able to start an exercise regimen immediately and you may not always make the best food choices. That's okay. You’ve already taken the biggest step towards a healthier you. Create goals around exercise, weight loss, and food choices that are meaningful to you. Read more about setting yourself up for success and celebrating achievements.