Bariatric Surgery: What To Expect Before And After

what to expect before and after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery has been available since the 1970’s and is one of the most effective means of permanent weight loss for people considered to be obese. 85 percent of those who have had a bariatric procedure has kept off their weight for five years or longer. If you or a loved one are considering bariatric surgery, then there are some things you should know. 

What Is Considered To Be The “Safest” Bariatric Surgery?

There was a study done with over 46,000 weight loss surgery patients involved in order to determine which of the three types of surgeries, the bypass, sleeve, or the band, had a better outcome. Overall, the gastric bypass results proved greater weight loss success for both long and short term. However, there were more post-surgery, short-term complications related to the gastric bypass. 

Keep in mind that not all weight loss surgeries are right for everyone, and it’s always best to discuss your options with a doctor who specializes in these types of procedures. 

What Do I Need To Do Before My Bariatric Surgery?*

If you’re getting bariatric surgery, you know there are big lifestyle changes ahead and you’re prepared to face them head on. It’s always a good idea to have your expectations set so you lower your chances of being blindsided. 

  • About one year prior to your scheduled surgery, you will begin nutritional counseling, and incorporate lifestyle changes recommended by your surgeon. For example, if you smoke, you may be asked to quit.
  • There will be dietary guidelines you’ll be expected to follow. This could begin a couple weeks to a couple months before your surgery. You may be on a liquid protein diet, along with no added sugars. Go over the diet with your doctor to make sure you understand it and are able to follow it correctly.
  • There might be a psychological evaluation required, but that will be determined by your doctor. 
  • You may be required to lose a certain amount of weight leading up to your surgery.
  • Start taking your multivitamin so you can be in the habit once you’ve gone through your surgery.
  • In the weeks leading up to surgery, you’ll be instructed on how to manage any health conditions you may have. 
  • You may have to meet with the anesthesiologist who will want to go over your health history. 
  • Some doctors may elect to put you on a blood thinner so you will need to begin taking them as prescribed. 
  • Get your hospital bag ready. Pack your required paperwork and identification, some pajamas, toothbrush and other toiletries. Remember your laptop, and your cell phone.

Follow the instructions you are given, both pre and post operation. These will help your chances of success for both short and long term weight loss, as well as your overall health. 

Foods To Avoid After Bariatric Surgery*

Your taste buds are going to change after your bariatric surgery. Things you used to enjoy may no longer give you the same satisfaction. And, foods you didn’t think you liked may become your go-to comfort foods. 

Right after surgery, and for the few days following, you’ll be on a clear liquid diet of broth, unsweetened fruit juice, and decaf coffee or tea. Once you are tolerating those liquids, you’ll be upgraded to pureed food. That list can contain meats that puree into a good consistency, along with foods like oatmeal, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, soups. You’ll want to add plenty of liquids to these while you’re pureeing. 

Gradually, as you begin to tolerate solid consistency foods, you’ll be able to have a more varied selection. But, there will be certain foods and drinks you’re going to want to steer clear of, particularly foods higher in fat and sugars.

If you can, avoid the following foods:

  • Bread
  • Skin and seeds from fruit and veggies
  • Oils and butter
  • Pasta, rice, and anything made with white flour
  • Packaged foods (think snacks like chips)
  • Fried foods
  • Pop/Soda
  • Foods high in calories
  • Desserts

Don’t get discouraged if your weight loss is slow. It could take a year or two to get to your goal weight. 

Picked for you: Vitamins You Need After Bariatric Surgery

How Fast Do You Lose Weight After Surgery?

Bariatric surgery is not meant to be a quick fix. It’s going to take a lot of hard work the minute you decide this is the path for you. 

The thing about weight loss, with or without bariatric surgery, is that there are quite a few factors playing into it. How rapidly you lose weight depends on things like how heavy you are when you’re starting your weight loss journey, how diligent you are with your diet, and how much you’re up and moving. 

Studies show that those first 30 days post-op, the average weight loss is 5-15 pounds per week. Men do tend to lose weight faster than women, which can be quite annoying. But, expect to lose close to, or around, 20 percent of your excess weight. 

What Are The Possible Side Effects?

As with any other type of surgery, it’s very possible to experience side effects from bariatric surgery. Some are specific to the type of surgery, while others would be side effects from having surgery in general. It’s important to discuss this in further detail with your surgeon. 

Potential side effects of bariatric surgery are:

  • Anesthesia related
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Stomach obstructions
  • Failure to lose weight
  • Weight gain

Long term risks of bariatric surgery include:

  • Dumping syndrome
  • Hernias
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Vomiting/diarrhea
  • Malnutrition

And, each type of surgery has its own set of risks involved. 

Gastric bypass

  • Iron and vitamin deficiency
  • Gallstones due to rapid weight loss
  • Internal bleeding around the surgical wound
  • Leakage
  • Skin separation

Gastric Sleeve

Many of the same surgical side effects of bypass would also be related to the sleeve. With the gastric sleeve, you’ll run the risk of blood clots, and perforation of your stomach or intestines. 

To lower the chances of side effects, it’s always recommended to follow your doctor’s directions to the letter. Quitting smoking, and upping your exercise are best practice prior to surgery, as well. 

Gastric Band

Common side effects of the gastric band include: 

  • Issues with the band slipping or moving
  • Blood clotting
  • Changes in bowel function
  • GERD
  • This procedure has the highest rate of patients needing a second operation

And many of the general side effects of bariatric surgeries already mentioned. 

What Is Dumping Syndrome?

You’ve had part of your stomach removed, or surgically altered in order to lose weight. It will take awhile for your body to figure out what to do with the food you’re putting into it. Initially, when you are eating certain kinds of foods, it will increase your chance of dumping syndrome. This is not a life threatening condition, it’s just can be exceptionally uncomfortable. 

Dumping syndrome signs can begin 30-60 minutes after you’ve eaten. You may feel:

  • Very full, even if you’ve hardly touched your food.
  • Cramping and pain in your abdomen
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Explosive diarrhea
  • Hot and cold sweats
  • Elevated heartbeat

Dumping syndrome is caused by your food rapidly “dumping” into your intestine. You can try to prevent this uncomfortable situation from happening by avoiding sugary foods and sweets, dairy, and alcohol. Don’t drink liquids 30 minutes before or after you eat a meal. 

Some more actions you can take to lessen the chances of dumping syndrome are*:

  • Eat a few small meals or snacks spread out over your day
  • You should eat smaller portions, like one ounce of protein or ¼ of fruit or veggies
  • Make sure you cut your food into small pieces and chew thoroughly
  • When you start to feel full, stop eating

Call your doctor if you are experiencing extreme dumping syndrome symptoms, or if you’re concerned about some of the other symptoms you’re having.

Why Does My Sense Of Taste Change After Bariatric Procedure?

One of the most common post-op complaints is the taste changes and food sensitivities. A 2014 study out of the Stanford University School of Medicine had discovered that bariatric patients with a decreased sense of taste lost more weight three months post operation than those who didn’t. Not only does there become a new sensitivity to taste, but more patients noticed aversions to foods they had once enjoyed. 

Sense of taste and smell are affected in more than 73 percent of bariatric patients. No cause and effect has yet been determined. 

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Bariatric Surgery?

Because gastric bypass is done laparoscopically, it shortens recovery time. If there are no complications resulting from your procedure, you can expect to stay in the hospital for two to five days. And, within 3-5 weeks, you can resume normal activities. 

After your surgery, it is normal to feel more tired and nauseated. It is also within the normal range to find yourself vomiting. If those symptoms fail to subside, contact your doctor.

Staying on top of your nutrition is going to be an important factor in your success. Also, your vitamins are imperative to staying healthy. And always follow your doctor’s directions.*


With our 2-pod Bariatric vitamin system, you just need to add your own calcium supplement and you’ll be ASMBS compliant. 


Learn how Tespo can help you with your vitamin compliance.




*Disclaimer: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that you consult with a health care professional before using any dietary supplement. Many supplements contain ingredients that have strong biological effects, and such products may not be safe in all people.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.