Weight reduction surgery can be a life-saving procedure for many patients, and it offers numerous benefits. However, like all medical procedures, there are some side effects and some changes that come that require special care. There are several modifications that patients need to make in order for the surgery to be successful over a long period of time. 

If you’re considering any sort of bariatric weight reduction procedure, learn more about the lifestyle changes you will need to implement after the procedure is complete. You can enjoy your life fully and experience greater health and vitality if you’re prepared to make these changes. 


Of course, your surgery will have the most significant impact on your diet. Your digestive system is permanently altered during any type of weight reduction surgery. During short-term recovery, you’ll have strict supplemental and nutritional feeding guidelines. After the initial recovery stage, there will still be some permanent changes.


The main concern after bariatric surgery is getting enough fluids. You will need to drink or receive large amounts of water to help your body absorb what it needs. Some patients may not have been in the habit of drinking large amounts of fluid each day. It takes practice, but it is one of the easiest ways to avoid the complications of kidney stones or constipation. 

You will need at least 64 ounces of water daily to stay hydrated. 


You’ll also need vitamin supplements to make sure you’re getting vital nutrients. Before your bowel is altered, your body takes time to absorb vitamins from your food. With a shorter digestive tract, you cut back on the absorption time, which makes vitamin deficiency a risk. You may need vitamin injections instead of oral supplements, depending on the advice of your doctor. 

Dietary Changes

Permanent changes in diet are also on the horizon, especially in the first few months following the surgery. Normally, rapid weight loss is expected during this time period, and one of the negative side effects can be a loss of muscle mass. To prevent a loss of muscle post-operation, you will need to eat a diet high in protein.

Your doctor will also advise limiting sugar and simple carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice. These foods will slow your progress and can increase inflammation. Also, your doctor may recommend avoiding caffeine, as it can act as a diuretic (aiding dehydration) and because many caffeinated beverages are high in sugar.

Many patients cannot eat at the volume they once did. Their body cannot handle as much food as before. To avoid slipping on your prescribed diet plan and to help your body adjust, schedule your meals. Plan smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. As your digestive system heals, your doctors will place an emphasis on:

  • Lean meats like turkey and fish. These are low in fat and provide the much-needed protein for muscle retention. 
  • Fruits. These provide fiber to help with digestion, and they can satisfy a sweet tooth.
  • Vegetables. Vegetables provide satiety, and they offer fiber, nutrients, and a low caloric density to help with weight loss. 
  • Low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, and eggs. These offer more protein, but they also provide calcium. 

You may find that your family members lose weight as your meals change to suit the requirements of your post-surgery needs. 


Finally, follow advice about alcohol consumption to the letter. Alcohol is not as easily processed by your body after your digestive system has been changed, and the result is that you get drunk much more quickly. You also can put your liver and other organs at risk because of your new low tolerance for alcohol. Many doctors ban all consumption entirely to prevent complications.


Your doctor will likely encourage exercise after you have healed from your surgery. Many patients, however, are new to the world of actively working out, and they may not know where to begin. Excess weight may have prevented them from being able to safely exercise in the past. 

You should begin slowly. Walking is one of the best forms of introductory exercise. Start activity gradually, but eventually, you will want it to be routine. This doesn’t mean you have to run marathons or even join a local gym, but you should aim to get moderate exercise (riding a bike, swimming, or a brisk walk) as you are able to do so.

Focus on improving your functional fitness as well. Functional fitness is about completing your daily tasks without pain or injury. For example, reaching to get a can down from a high shelf should be easy. Functional fitness exercises focus on resistance training, flexibility, breathing, and core strength. 

Not only will you see a marked improvement in your health, but the moderate activity will also help improve muscle strength and your ability to maintain your weight loss.

Find a board certified bariatric surgeon to discuss your surgical weight loss options. Patrick T. Davis, MD, FACS, George B. Lynch, MD, FACS, and James G. McDowell, MD, FACS are accepting new patients and welcome you to schedule a consultation to find out if you’re a good candidate for bariatric weight loss surgery.

For more information on how your lifestyle will need to change after bariatric weight reduction surgery, visit the Metabolic/Bariatric Center at St. Thomas Midtown, or contact us to find the nearest bariatric clinic near you. 

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