Bariatric Surgery News Stories

Life After Bariatric Surgery

Weight loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, is a powerful tool used to help patients with obesity and weight-related comorbidities build a healthier life.

Washington University bariatric surgeons are partners in their patient’s journey to a healthier lifestyle. Along with a dedicated multidisciplinary team of registered dieticians, mental health professionals, physical therapists, and more, a patient will receive a vast range of support in the time leading up to and for years after their weight loss surgery.

If you are considering weight loss surgery, there are several questions that may come to mind, including thoughts like, “How much weight will I lose after surgery?” or, “How long will it take for me to see results?” The answers to these questions, and more insight into life after bariatric surgery, are provided by our dedicated team of Washington University bariatric surgeons.

How much weight will I lose after bariatric surgery?

The amount of weight you lose will depend on the type of procedure you have and how well you integrate dietary changes and exercise into your lifestyle. Most procedures will improve your overall health as you lose weight, and some procedures can even cure type 2 diabetes or greatly improve your blood sugar. These changes alone can be life-changing and improve your overall health and quality of life.

In sleeve gastrectomy surgery, a surgeon will remove approximately 70% of a patient’s stomach through small incisions. The average excess weight loss for this surgery is 50-60%. For example, if you need to lose 100 pounds, you will lose approximately 50 to 60 pounds after surgery.

In gastric bypass surgery, also called Roux-en-Y, a surgeon will use small incisions to create a small pouch in the stomach and connect the newly created pouch directly into the small intestine. After surgery, food will travel into this small pouch, bypassing most of the stomach and into the first section of the small intestine. This means less food will be absorbed by the digestive tract. The average excess weight loss for gastric bypass surgery is between 60 and 80%.

Duodenal switch surgery combines techniques used within gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures. In this surgery, a surgeon will use small incisions to remove a significant portion of the stomach, limiting the amount of food the stomach is able to store. The small intestine is then rerouted to lessen the digestion of calories and nutrients. Since the stomach is shrunk and only a small portion of the intestine has a chance to digest food before it enters the colon, patients feel full more quickly after eating less food and less food is absorbed by the digestive tract. The average weight loss after duodenal switch surgery is more than 80%.

“The type of surgery you have depends on a variety of factors and should be thoroughly discussed with a member of our team,” says Washington University bariatric surgeon J. Chris Eagon, MD. “Since there are several weight loss surgery options, we believe that surgery should be tailored to each individual patient and their unique needs.”

How soon will I see results after bariatric surgery?

Weight loss tends to be rapid in the first few months after bariatric surgery, and individual results will differ based on a variety of factors including age, starting weight, and overall health. According to the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, Most reports show a 50% or greater excess weight loss after one year. Weight loss generally continues for all the procedures for 18-24 months after surgery. Some weight gain is common about two to five years after surgery.

What dietary restrictions will I have after surgery?

There are several dietary changes that you will have to adhere to after your surgery. If you are undergoing bariatric surgery, you can expect to follow a strict diet immediately following your procedure and several months after. This dietary schedule includes:

  • After surgery until first postoperative visit (normally 2 weeks): Full liquid diet
  • First postoperative visit to Week 4 postop: Pureed diet
  • Week 4 to Week 6: Reintroduce soft foods
  • Week 6 and onward: Reintroducing other healthy foods (salad, uncooked vegetables, other meats) back into the diet,

Patients who undergo weight loss surgery must follow certain lifelong guidelines, including not drinking liquids for 30 minutes before and one hour after eating, avoiding sugar and high fat foods, and other points of interest. These guidelines become easier to follow over time and will help patients maintain their health and improve their outcomes after surgery. A full list of these guidelines are available in the Weight Loss Surgery team’s Patient Journey Guide.

How soon can I return to normal activities after bariatric surgery?

Although bariatric surgery is conducted using minimally invasive, laparoscopic techniques, patients are encouraged to “take it easy” and build up their strength after surgery. Short walks are encouraged to help patients build their stamina, but most strenuous activities, or doing too much too quickly, are discouraged for the first several weeks after surgery. After this recovery period, patients are encouraged to exercise as a way to help maintain their new weight loss and establish a healthy lifestyle. For a full list of activities that should be avoided following your bariatric surgery, view the Weight Loss Surgery team’s Patient Journey Guide.

Why is weight loss surgery considered a “lifelong journey?”

Bariatric surgery can be a life-changing event and requires a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes that may not always be easy.

“Your success after surgery weighs heavily on you, and following guidelines for diet, exercise and lifestyle are important and can be challenging,” says Dr. Eagon. “Our team is here to support you as you navigate the necessary changes to ensure your long-term success.”

A post-operative support group is available for all patients who have undergone weight loss surgery, regardless of whether they had their surgery performed by a Washington University bariatric surgeon. These free, virtual meetings are a great way to learn, meet and share information with other patients and cover nutritional, social, and medical issues related to weight loss surgery.

Since bariatric surgery alters how the body absorbs nutrients or restricts the amount of food a patient can consume, patients who undergo bariatric surgery must take a regimen of vitamins and nutrients to ensure their body is getting exactly what it needs. Patients will also meet with their bariatric surgeon annually beginning 12 months after their initial surgery, in perpetuity.

Who is the Bariatric Surgery Team?

J. Chris Eagon, MD

J. Chris Eagon, MD

Professor of Surgery
Section of Minimally Invasive Surgery
Division of General Surgery

Washington University bariatric surgeons J. Chris Eagon, MD, Shaina Eckhouse, MD, and Francesca Dimou, MD, MS, offer life-changing obesity treatment through minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures, including gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy. The Bariatric Surgery Team consults with patients and performs procedures at the Center for Advanced Medicine and Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.

Prospective patients can visit the team’s website and select a virtual time slot with a Washington University bariatric surgeon that works best for their schedule or complete this online form to hear more about the online seminars from our program coordinators. For additional information, please call (314) 454-7224.

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