Frequently Asked Questions About Weight Loss Surgery
Patients come to Florida Coast Weight Loss Center from Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and beyond because they trust that each member of our team is here to support them. We hope that the answers to these frequently asked questions will help you feel more confident and informed as you embark on our weight loss journey.
What should I expect in the days immediately following weight loss surgery?
During the first few days of your recovery, you should try to start walking as soon as possible after surgery.
It’s common to experience:
- Dry mouth
- Metallic taste
Will I be in pain following weight loss surgery?
During the initial recovery period following weight loss surgery, you can expect to experience mild to moderate discomfort. On a scale of 1 to 10, this would fall into the range of 5 or less. It’s common to experience discomfort at or near the incision site, on the left shoulder, and when drinking fluids.
- If you are experiencing pain that your prescribed pain medication does not alleviate please let your nurse practitioner know.
- If you are still experiencing pain after being discharged from our surgery center, call our office at (386) 585-4895 with the number of your preferred pharmacy.
How soon after weight loss surgery can I resume my normal activities?
- We advise patients to return to work when they feel ready. This is typically around 5-7 days following surgery.
- Do not lift anything over 10 lbs for at least three weeks following surgery.
- Avoid strenuous exercise or activities that raise your heart rate for at least three weeks following surgery.
- Begin slowly by working your way up to 30 minutes of walking a day.
- When you do return to work, make sure to get up and walk around once every hour for the first four weeks to prevent blood clots.
- You can start driving as soon you’re ready as long as you are no longer taking any narcotic pain medications.
- Avoid hot tubs, baths, and swimming for 14 days following surgery.
Will I have digestive problems following bariatric surgery?
- Belching or productive burps can be caused by not thoroughly chewing your food, eating too quickly, or taking bites that are too large.
- If food becomes stuck from insufficient chewing, you may experience excessive saliva production in the mouth, which is called frothing or sliming.
How long after weight loss surgery will I see visible weight loss?
- Every patient is different; some patients see noticeable weight loss soon after surgery, while for others it’s a few months before they see noticeable weight loss.
- Track your progress by doing bi-weekly weigh-ins and recording.
- Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see weekly weight loss quickly, you will experience weight loss as your body adjusts to new metabolic changes.
- Remember that even when your weight plateaus, you are still losing inches.
- Weight plateaus or stalls are a normal part of the process and should be expected. Don’t become overly focused on the scale.
How can I help my body recover and prevent complications after bariatric surgery?
- Staying hydrated is critical
- Remember to take any supplements prescribed
- Stick to a healthy protein-heavy diet; protein promotes weight loss and healing, so make sure you consume at least 60 GRAMS per day
- Adopt an exercise routine
- Learn to differentiate real hunger from head hunger
- Find coping strategies for stress that don’t involve eating
- Stop eating immediately when you feel full, and don’t eat more than one cup of food at each meal
- Eating more than one cup of food per meal may cause you to vomit
- Do not drink with your meals.
- Teach yourself to sip versus gulp liquids using a medicine cup
- Try eating with a teaspoon to help you refrain from taking bites that are too big
- Always look at nutrition labels and make sure to avoid sugars, carbohydrates, and alcohols with high sugar content
- If you experience food getting stuck in your throat, try walking around and sipping a small amount of warm water or pineapple juice at room temperature
- Do not try to wash food down with copious amounts of liquid; this will make it worse
- Do use straws to drink during the first several months of your recovery this can lead to air bubbles that cause discomfort or gas pains
What are the signs of potential complications after weight loss surgery?
Contact your bariatric surgeon immediately if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, as it could indicate a serious complication:
- Fever over 101 degrees F
- Vomit or stools containing bright red blood
- Excessive chest pain
- Swelling and/or pain in the legs
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Frequent diarrhea or vomiting that lasts more than 24 hours
- Increasing abdominal pain that lasts longer than 4 hrs
- Inability to keep fluids down with no urination
- No bowel movement, even after using a stool softener like Milk of Magnesia or Colace
- Unusual, severe, or uncontrollable pain near incisions
- Milky, red, or malodorous discharge from surgical incisions
Are there any common complications after weight loss surgery, and if so, how can I avoid and/or treat them?
Dumping Syndrome has essentially been eliminated with the newer procedures performed today. It is commonly seen with the Gastric Bypass as the valve at the exit of the stomach (pylorus) is bypassed. With procedures like the sleeve gastrectomy and duodenal switch, the pyloric valve is left intact, preventing the development of dumping syndrome. In rare occasions, gastric emptying can be rapid enough to create a similar set of symptoms. Signs can include a racing heart, heart palpitations, abdominal cramping and/or pain, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, a clammy or sweaty feeling, and diarrhea. Foods that have a high sugar content, foods prepared with industrialized cooking oils (i.e. vegetable oil), or meals that contain too many carbohydrates can trigger these symptoms.
It’s common to experience temporary food intolerances following weight loss surgery, especially to milk, red meat, and foods with high fiber content. We recommend keeping a food journal and listing foods that are not well tolerated. Because food intolerances are typically temporary, any foods not well tolerated the first time you try them can be tried again in several months.
Lactose is a type of sugar found in dairy products. Some patients who did not have an intolerance to dairy before surgery find that dairy products cause gas and abdominal cramping after surgery. Lactaid is an over-the-counter (OTC) enzyme supplement that can help treat symptoms of lactose intolerance. For most patients, this lactose intolerance resolves itself by six months post surgery as the body adapts over time.
Many patients find that there is an increase in hair loss roughly 3-5 months following weight loss surgery. Hair loss is one of the ways the body responds to sudden protein and calorie deprivation following surgery. This type of hair loss is temporary and patients rarely still experience hair loss one year following surgery. Most patients report healthier and fuller hair 18 months after surgery due to improved hormone balance. There are supplemental options available to help during occasional transition periods. Please call the office for more information (386) 585-4895.
It’s normal to experience “buyer’s remorse” or depression in the first month or two following weight loss surgery due to the loss of or change in your previous relationship with food. This feeling typically resolves within three months of bariatric surgery as you begin to establish new thought patterns and habits around food and eating. If emotional volatility continues and you feel depressed, irritable, or tearful it’s important to inform your physician.
It’s normal for relationships to change as significant weight loss occurs. The physical and emotional changes weight loss surgery patients are going through can place stress on relationships and it can often be beneficial to seek counseling to help you and your loved ones navigate these changes.
How soon can I get pregnant after weight loss surgery?
We strongly advise bariatric patients to wait to conceive for at least 18 months following surgery. At this time your weight and nutrition will be stable enough to carry a child healthily. Fertility generally increases following significant weight loss so take precautions if you want to avoid becoming pregnant. It is important to emphasize that weight loss surgery does not create any problems with future pregnancies.
How can I alleviate constipation?
Constipation after weight loss surgery may be caused by various factors such as dehydration or pain medication. If you are struggling with constipation we recommend increasing your fluid intake and trying half a cup of warm prune juice, or an OTC stool softener like Miralax or Milk of Magnesia as directed. Alternative remedies for constipation include insoluble fiber supplements like Benefiber, Fiber-con, and Metamucil. When using a fiber supplement, we suggest starting with ¼ to ½ of the recommended dosage. If constipation persists for longer than 2-3 days, call your doctor’s office.
What can I do to combat nausea or vomiting?
Nausea is normal and to be expected immediately following weight loss surgery. Being aware of your behavior around eating can help as well as keeping a food diary to track how you respond to certain foods. If you have transitioned to soft or regular foods and are experiencing nausea or vomiting, wait until your symptoms subside then return to a liquid diet again for a few days. Call your doctor if vomiting and/or nausea persists for more than 24 hours.
How can I treat diarrhea?
It’s normal to experience stomach cramping and diarrhea in the first several weeks after weight loss surgery. Often eating some yogurt will help, as will the OTC medication Imodium AD. Some patients develop these symptoms later on in their recovery due to lactose intolerance. Symptoms of lactose intolerance can usually be resolved by consuming lactose-free foods. If diarrhea lasts longer than 2-3 days, call your doctor.
How can I treat gas?
Gas and bloating are very common immediately following bariatric surgery. This gas primarily exists around the stomach and intestine and is best relieved with walking. OTC medications including Mylicon Drops, Gas-X strips, and Simethicone (generic) may be of limited benefit in relieving gas pains.
Do I really have to drink that much water?
Hydration is critical for optimal recovery after weight loss surgery. Your food and calorie intake will be lower than usual so it is important to drink more fluids to meet your body’s requirements. In fact, rehospitalization is often due to dehydration and it can cause symptoms like constipation, fatigue, weakness, light-headedness, and dizziness. While the body is losing weight, there is more waste to eliminate and water significantly helps waste elimination. We recommend getting in the habit of constantly sipping water in between meals with the goal of drinking 64 ounces of water each day. IV hydration services are available through our office and may provide significant benefit in certain situations. Please call the office for more information.
Is it normal to feel a sensation of tightness in my chest after I eat?
A feeling of tightness in the chest can be caused by a variety of factors, such as not taking the time to chew properly, taking big bites of food, eating too fast, or drinking liquids with meals. If you are experiencing tightness in your chest, stop eating, stand up and start walking around the room. Often, this simple action can help alleviate the feeling of tightness.
What should I do if food gets stuck in my pouch?
You’ll know if food is stuck in the pouch if your mouth begins to water and you feel intense tightness or pressure in your diaphragm and/or upper back. Drinking 1 ounce of room temperature pineapple juice can help, as can standing or walking. If none of these things works to dislodge the food, wait an hour or two and try again. Call your doctor if you’re still not feeling relief after the second attempt as food that remains stuck in the pouch can cause inflammation and irritation. If you experience an episode of food getting stuck in the pouch and then have trouble tolerating solid foods go back to a liquid diet for the next 48 hours, then start on soft foods for the next 48 hours and then try solid foods again. Please call your doctor if you are still unable to tolerate solid foods at this point.
Contact Florida Coast Weight Loss Center
We’re confident that providing you with more information about weight loss surgery and recovering from weight loss surgery will help you feel more prepared for your weight loss journey. If you have additional questions that are not covered here, would like additional information about bariatric surgery options at our practice near Orlando, Jacksonville, and Daytona Beach, or if you are experiencing post-surgery complications, please contact us today.
The surgeons at Florida Coast Weight Loss Center have either authored or reviewed and approved this content.