What to Expect After Bariatric Surgery

Find out how fast you lose weight after weight loss surgery

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The best time to find out what to expect after bariatric surgery is before you go under the knife. That way, your life after weight loss surgery is easier and more predictable. Get basic answers to your questions about bariatric surgery here and then talk to your doctor about how your weight loss after surgery and other changes may occur.

FAQs About Life After Bariatric Surgery

How fast will I lose weight after gastric bypass or bariatric surgery?

How fast you lose weight after surgery depends on the type of weight loss surgery you've had and how well you are able to follow the eating and exercise guidelines provided by your physician. 

According to the National Institutes of Health, you're likely to lose 10-20 pounds per month in the first few months after surgery. But The rate at which you lose weight after bariatric surgery will slow down over time. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons says that you may lose as much as 60% of your excess weight in the first six months after surgery, and 77% of your excess in the first year. 

Some reports have shown that patients who undergo sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass may lose weight faster than patients who undergo lap band surgery. And dieters who are on a liquid or pureed diet are likely to lose weight faster than those who return to solid foods. 

How much weight will I lose after weight loss surgery?

Weight loss after bariatric surgery will vary depending on the patient. Patients who undergo a bariatric procedure can lose a significant percentage of their excess body weight. But the success of the procedure will depend on how well you are able to maintain a healthy post-surgery diet and exercise regime

Recent reports suggest that patients may lose up to 60% of their extra body weight (not total body weight) in the first six months after surgery. Twelve months after surgery, that number jumps to 77%. At the five-year mark, patients maintain an average of 50% of their excess weight loss.

By the two-year mark, you will probably lose most of your weight and you may even gain some weight after that.  Studies have shown that patients often gain a small amount of weight by the fifth year. 

Will I be healthier after weight loss surgery?

In many cases, bariatric surgery resolves or improves weight-related medical conditions. Gastric bypass resolves type 2 diabetes in nearly 90% of patients, and gastric banding resolves that same condition in over 70% of patients. Sleep apnea is resolved in more than 85% of patients and almost half of the patients who undergo weight loss surgery see an improvement in their risk level for heart disease.

What will life be like after bariatric surgery?

The answer to this question may depend on your expectations prior to surgery.

Many patients experience an improved quality of life if they lose the amount of weight that they had hoped to lose. Other factors include whether or not they experience complications from surgery, and whether or not the surgery resolves medical issues that were related to their weight.

Talking about expectations should be an important part of your pre-surgery process. Bariatric surgeons often see that relationships with friends and family change after surgery. In many cases, lifestyle adjustment and psychological changes can be the hardest part of recovery.

What are the side effects of weight loss surgery?

It isn't uncommon for patients who undergo surgery to experience some side effects in the weeks, months or even years following the procedure. These might include:

Some studies have also found that people who undergo surgery may be at greater risk for alcohol abuse following surgery. The ASBMS recommends that you avoid alcohol after surgery.

Each surgery has its own list of risks and benefits. Talk to your surgeon about the specific procedure you've chosen to get a complete list of possible side effects that you may experience.

Will I need plastic surgery to get rid of excess skin?

Patients are often concerned about what will happen to their bodies when they lose weight quickly. How your body adapts to weight loss depends on the amount of weight you have to lose in the first place and on other factors, including your age. In some cases, exercise may help prevent or limit excess skin after surgery.

Your bariatric surgeon will be able to give you a better idea of how your procedure will affect the shape of your body and the potential for excess skin. If plastic surgery becomes necessary, he will be able to recommend a surgeon and talk to you about risks and benefits of undergoing additional surgeries.

Making the decision to undergo bariatric surgery is a complicated process. Understanding what to expect after surgery will help you to decide whether or not the procedure is right for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get as much information as possible.

Sources:

Joshua B. Alley, M.D., F.A.C.S., Stephen J. Fenton, M.D., F.A.C.S., Michael C. Harnisch, M.D, Donovan N. Tapper, M.D, Jason M. Pfluke, M.D., Richard M. Peterson, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S. "Quality of life after sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric banding."Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases March 5, 2011.

Access to Care. Morbid Obesity & Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Fact Sheet. American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Accessed: July 12, 2012. http://asmbs.org/

American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Accessed: July 12, 2012. http://asmbs.org/

Managing the Severely Obese Patient: An Integrated Approach. Allergan Lap Band System. Continued Medical Education Course. July, 2011

Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Fact Sheet American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery. Accessed: July 12, 2012. http://asmbs.org/

Nguyen, Ninh T., MD, former President, American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Interview. July 16, 2012

Weight Control Information Network. Bariatric Surgery for Severe Obesity. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Accessed: July 12, 2012. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/gastric.htm

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