Lifestyle Changes After Weight Loss Surgery: Diet, Exercise, Followup, Medications and Mental Health Support

Lifestyle Changes After Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is a transformative decision that reshapes your body and improves your lifestyle. Read on as we shed light on types of weight loss surgery procedures and the lifestyle changes that come with them. We will also discuss weight loss surgery recovery time and some benefits of this transformative procedure.  

Types of weight loss surgery procedures

Weight loss or bariatric surgery in Dubai offers different procedures to help individuals lose significant amounts of weight.  

A common weight loss surgery procedure is the gastric sleeve procedure. In this surgery, a part of the stomach is completely removed, reducing its size and capacity for food intake.  It also involves the part of the stomach which secretes a hormone called Ghrelin which is responsible for hunger.  Removal of the part promotes early satiety unless hunger.

Gastric bypass surgery is wherein the stomach is divided into a smaller upper and a larger lower pouch and the food is rerouted directly into a part of the intestine bypassing majority of the stomach and a predetermined length of the small intestine. This helps limit to promote an element of malabsorption in addition to limiting food intake. There are different types of bypass procedure depending on the length of small intestine that is being bypass and the type/number of joints involved in the operation

Each type of weight loss program has its benefits and considerations; that is where you will need expert guidance. Dr. Balaji is an expert who can guide you through choosing the best weight loss surgery by discussing your goals and preferences.

Recovery after weight loss surgery – Immediate and Intermediate phases

Hospital stay

Expect to be mobilized/walking on the same day after surgery and starting to drink small amounts of water/liquids.  Intravenous fluids is likely to be discontinued the day after surgery when you are drinking more.

Discharge usually happens on the day of surgery if felt appropriate and safe in most of the planned bariatric surgical procedures.

Gastric Sleeve: Hospital stays are usually 1-2 days. Patients can resume light activities within 1-2 weeks, and it might take 4-6 weeks to fully recover.

Gastric Bypass: Patients typically stay in the hospital for 1-2 days and need about 7-10 days before resuming light activities. Full recovery might take 4-6 weeks.

Discharge medications

You will be discharged with a combination of medications which would include the following

  • Pain killers
  • Antiemetics
  • Laxatives
  • Anti acid medications
  • Multivitamin tablets, iron tablets and vitamin-D tablets

Weight loss diet Post-Surgery

You will be advised to have a liquid diet in the 1st week of surgery and then proceed to a puréed food diet for 2- or three weeks following the 1st week. You will gradually include soft foods and conventional foods in your diet. You will most likely eat ordinary foods in 6-8 weeks (about one and a half months).

At first, you will feel highly complete, frequently after only a few bites of solid food. This is because the stomach pouch or gastric sleeve will only hold a tiny amount of food shortly after surgery. Even if your pouch or sleeve is more prominent, it may only carry approximately less than 1 cup (240 milliliters) of chewed food. A regular stomach can hold up to 4 cups (1 liter) of chewed food.

  • Each bite should be chewed slowly and thoroughly, up to 20 or 30 times when consuming solid food.  
  • Food must be smooth or puréed before swallowing. A well-rounded diet should include nutrient-dense foods such as lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats.
  • The aperture of your new stomach pouch will be tiny. Food that is not adequately chewed can clog this opening, causing you to vomit or experience pain under your breastbone.
  • Avoid drinking water during mealtime
  • Encourage adequate fluid intake and protein intake which is very important in the 1st few days to months after surgery.

Other important aspects to be followed by all patients after bariatric surgery – Life long

Will you still need to count your calories post-weight loss surgery? 

Weight loss surgery can help you learn to eat less. But surgery is merely a tool. You must still make appropriate food selections. You will still need to avoid high-calorie foods. Your provider or nutritionist will probably inform you:

  • Avoid eating foods high in sugar, carbs and fat.
  • Avoid drinking fluids high in calories or containing sugar, fructose, or corn syrup.
  • Do not consume carbonated beverages (drinks with bubbles).
  • Do not consume alcohol. It is high in calories and low in nutritional value.

Lifelong medications

It was very important that you have lifelong supplementation after bariatric surgery with the following medications

  • Multivitamin tablets (specially formulated for patient’s after bariatric surgery or double dose of standard multivitamin tablets which can be purchased over the counter in any pharmacy)
  • Iron tablets once a day
  • Vitamin-D tablets on a maintenance basis for life
  • B12 injections or B12 tablets to be taken lifelong
  • Anti-acid medications (proton pump inhibitor) will be advised for a variable length of time after bariatric surgery depending on the type and the presence of gastroesophageal reflux which may necessitate long-term treatment.

Follow-up after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery on its own is just a tool help you follow a strict dietary and lifestyle process and make appropriate changes in unhealthy and focused manner which will give you a long-term success with regular follow-up.

Annual blood tests are compulsory to keep an eye on the vitamin levels, liver function tests, minerals, blood counts, iron stores etc.

It was very unfortunate to see patients who have had no follow-up with either the dietitian or the physician and not had supplementation, regular follow-up, blood tests etc who land up in trouble when it can be too late to make any changes and significant and permanent, life-threatening preventable complications ensue which can occasionally endanger life.

Alcohol intake and Smoking after bariatric surgery

It was very important that you stop smoking prior to bariatric surgery and continue not to smoke after bariatric surgery.  This is more so important after any form of gastric bypass.

Smoking is usually called the “bane (curse) of any bariatric surgical procedure for adequate success

Smoking disturbs healthy healing healing, reduces blood supply and encourages the formation of ulcer at any anastomosis (joints between bowel stomach) which can be a significant threat and obstacle to good recovery.

Nicotine in any form is to be avoided (cigarettes, nicotine containing vape, patches, gum etc)

Alcohol intake should be carefully monitored and restricted as bariatric surgery can occasionally be a reason for addiction to alcohol and increased intake as an alternative to reduced solid intake.  There have been studies which document increased alcohol addiction if not supervised after bariatric surgery.

It is also important that you avoid nonsteroidal medications (NSAIDs) after bariatric surgery as they can promote the formation of a marginal ulcer.

Contraception of the bariatric surgery

It is understood that hormonal contraception is less effective after bariatric surgery and mechanical methods are advised.

Pregnancy after bariatric surgery

The general route advised after bariatric surgery is to not encourage pregnancy in the 1st 18 months to 2 years after surgery as this would compromise the nutritional needs of the mother and the baby and could lead to problems during and after childbirth.

It was also important that additional supplementation might be necessary during pregnancy after 18 months and the obstetric physician is made aware of the need and the history of bariatric surgery in any patient.

Incorporating Exercise into Your Routine

After weight loss surgery, incorporating exercise into your routine is crucial to keep the weight off. Exercise is recommended and can assist in maintaining weight loss in the long term.

Patients who have undergone weight loss surgery report feeling more energized and wanting to exercise. Walking often, beginning within a few hours of surgery, can help people recover more quickly.  


Each patient is unique and should consult with their surgeon before beginning rigorous exercise; nevertheless, the aim should be 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day. When exercise becomes a habit, it might also help you maintain your weight loss.

Importance of Mental Health Support ​

  • Mental health support is essential for individuals to navigate this transformative process.
  • It’s common to experience various emotions post-surgery, such as anxiety, frustration, or even body image concerns.  
  • Seeking professional guidance from therapists or support groups can provide valuable tools to cope with these feelings effectively.
  • A positive mindset and self-care are essential to maintaining overall well-being during your weight loss program.  

Benefits of Lifestyle Changes Post-Surgery

After undergoing weight loss surgery, lifestyle changes are crucial for long-term success. These changes not only help in maintaining a healthy weight but also improve overall well-being.

One of the critical benefits of post-surgery lifestyle changes is better management of chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

By adopting a balanced diet plan rich in nutrients and low in processed foods, patients can support their body’s healing process and maintain optimal health.

Incorporating regular exercise into daily routines helps boost metabolism, increase energy levels, and enhance mood.

Moreover, mental health support plays a significant role in adjusting to new dietary habits and physical activities post-surgery.

With dedication and commitment to these lifestyle changes, individuals can maintain an improved quality of life after weight loss surgery.

Consult Dr. Balaji for further guidance in your weight loss program

Weight loss surgery is just the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s essential to make sustainable changes in your diet, exercise routine, and mental health support for long-term success.

If you ever feel overwhelmed or unsure about how to proceed with your weight loss program after surgery, don’t hesitate to consult Dr. Balaji for further guidance.  

You can navigate challenges and stay motivated toward better health and well-being with the proper support and resources.  

Embrace these lifestyle changes post-surgery with determination and positivity – the results will transform your body and improve your overall quality of life.

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