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Weight Loss Surgery Frequently Asked Questions

What can I expect during the first days of weight loss surgery recovery?

  • You should be up and walking shortly after surgery.
  • You might experience:
    • Drowsiness
    • Metallic taste
    • Very dry mouth
Middle age couple walking in a park

Will I feel pain after weight loss surgery?

During initial weight loss surgery recovery, is normal to experience mild to moderate: discomfort (5 or less on a scale of 1 to 10).

  • Please let your nurse know if you experience pain that is not alleviated by your prescribed pain medication.
  • If pain is experienced after you are discharged from the surgery center, please call us at all 806-677-7952 and have your pharmacy number available.
  • Discomfort is most often experienced at the incision site, around the left shoulder, and drinking fluids.

You may continue to have some mild abdominal pain for up to 4 weeks after surgery, especially if twisting or bending certain ways.

How soon can I resume normal activities after weight loss surgery?

  • Return to work when ready – Usually 1 week.
  • No lifting anything over 10 lbs for 3 weeks after surgery.
  • No strenuous exercise for 3 weeks after surgery. Work up to walking 30 minutes a day.
  • When back at work, be sure to get up every hour and walk to help prevent blood clots for the first 4 weeks.
  • You may resume driving as soon as you feel comfortable – As long as you are not taking any pain medications.
  • No baths, hot tubs, or swimming for 7 days after surgery.

What about bathing and incision care after weight loss surgery?

Will I need special medications after weight loss surgery?

What if I experience digestive problems after weight loss surgery?

How long after bariatric surgery will I notice weight loss?

Patient Stories

Terri's weight loss transformation

Meet Terri

What was it like to work with the team, from the start of your journey to

What was life like before bariatric surgery?
I was miserable. I had no energy at all. I got winded without doing much. I couldn’t keep up with my grandchildren and I felt horrible about my appearance which led to more isolation.

What is your life like now? What’s the #1 thing you love being able to do now?
My life is amazing! I feel great and I look pretty good as well (even if I say so myself). I’m down 88 pounds and 10 sizes. I am working on running a 5K now. Before I couldn’t even consider walking one. I have energy and I can keep up with the grandkids now. I feel like life just took a curve and it’s on a much better road now than it was before.

Change Your Story

What can I do to prevent complications and help my body recover after weight loss surgery?

  • Stay hydrated
  • Take your supplements
  • Make healthy food choices! Protein first – protein promotes healing and weight loss, minimum of 60 GRAMS/day
  • Exercise
  • Try to differentiate head hunger from real
  • Change is stressful.
  • Learn new coping strategies that don’t involve eating.
  • Change your eating habits to be successful.

Woman practicing light yoga on a beach

  • When you feel full stop immediately, put your food aside and save it for another meal. If you try to force it down you may stretch your pouch or vomit. Do not eat more than 1 cup of food per meal.
  • Remember do not drink with your meals.
  • Use a medicine cup to learn how to sip versus gulp.
  • You may want to use a teaspoon to keep you from taking too large of bites.
  • Read nutrition labels, stay away from high fats, sugars and sugar alcohols.
  • If food gets stuck, get up and walk and try room temperature pineapple juice in small amounts (1 ounce)  or warm but not hot water. Never attempt to wash food down; this will only make the situation worse.
  • Do not drink out of straws in the beginning. This may cause air bubbles that can cause gas pain or discomfort.

What are signs of potential complications after weight loss surgery?

If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your surgeon immediately. They could be signs of serious complications following bariatric surgery.

  • Bright red blood in your vomit or stools
  • Excessive pain in chest or pain/swelling in legs
  • Difficulty breathing or increased shortness of breath
  • Frequent vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 24 hrs or abdominal pain that persists for more than 4 hrs
  • Inability to keep fluids down and no urination
  • No bowel movements, even after Colace or Milk of Magnesia
  • Uncontrollable pain or severe unusual pain around incisions
  • Increasing redness or milky, malodorous discharge from incisions
  • Fever over 101

What are some common complications after bariatric surgery, and how do I avoid or treat them?

Dumping Syndrome
On rare occasions, Gastric Sleeve patients may experience dumping syndrome. Some signs or dumping can be palpitations or racing heart, a sweaty and clammy feeling, and abdominal pain and or cramping, weakness, fatigue, dizziness and sometimes diarrhea. Dumping syndrome is not dangerous, but it feels awful and once you react to a certain food in this way you do not want to eat that food again. Dumping syndrome is typically associated with foods high in sugar, high in fat, very rich foods, or a meal made up of too many carbohydrates. Dumping syndrome affects each person differently and you may feel any combination of the above signs.

Food Intolerances
Many patients experience food intolerances, especially to red meat, milk and high fiber foods. It is a good idea to keep a food journal with a list of foods that are and are not well tolerated. Food intolerances are usually temporary, so you may try a food again in a couple of months that was not well tolerated the first time.

Lactose Intolerance
Lactose is a particular type of sugar found in milk and dairy products. Some of our patients, who did not have problems with milk before surgery, find that after surgery, dairy products cause abdominal cramping and gas. This can be treated by Lactaid, an over-the-counter enzyme supplement. The body also tends to adapt over time and this is less of a problem in most patients 6 months after surgery.

Hair Loss
Most patients notice some increase in hair loss around 3-5 months after surgery. This occurs as part of the body’s response to sudden calorie and protein deprivation just after surgery. It is rare for patients to have thinner hair one year after surgery than they did prior to surgery. In fact, at 18 months after surgery, most patients have fuller and healthier hair because the body’s hormone balance has been significantly improved.

Emotional Volatility
Most patients experience some form of “buyer’s remorse”. This generally occurs within the first 1-2 months after surgery. A depressed mood may also develop due to the loss of the previous relationship with food. The good news is that this is not unusual and should resolve within 3 months after weight loss surgery. If you continue to feel emotionally volatile (tearful or irritable) or depressed, then please see your physician.

Relationship changes
Every relationship in which the patient participates will change substantially as the dramatic weight loss occurs. This change will affect all relationships. The drastic changes put stress on relationships as the patient changes physically and emotionally and it is sometimes necessary to seek outside counseling.

When can I get pregnant after surgery?

It is strongly recommended you wait at least 18 months after surgery before trying to conceive. Approximately 18 months post-op, your body will be fairly stable from a weight and nutrition standpoint. You should also know that fertility usually increases with weight loss so be sure to take extra precautions.

What do I do about constipation?

Constipation can be caused by pain medication or dehydration. If constipation becomes a problem, you may try 30cc (6 teaspoons) of Milk of Magnesia or over-the-counter Miralax (take as directed). You may also need to increase your fluid intake. Constipation can also be relieved through insoluble fiber supplements such as Fiber-con/Benefiber or Metamucil. We recommend starting with about ¼ to ½ the recommended amount. Half a cup of warm prune juice will also help with constipation. Call your doctor’s office if the constipation persists more than 2-3 days.

What do I do if I am feeling nauseous or vomiting? 

Nausea can be expected in the first few weeks after surgery. Watch your eating behavior. Are you eating too much, too fast or foods high in sugar or fat? Are you drinking with your meals? You may also be dealing with food intolerances. If you are feeling nauseous or vomiting wait about two hours until symptoms subside then go back to full liquids again. If vomiting continues for more than a 24-hour period call your doctor.

What do I do about diarrhea?

For the first few weeks after surgery, it is normal to feel cramping or diarrhea. You may take Imodium AD or try some yogurt. However, later on some patients may experience these symptoms due to sugar found in milk products called lactose. If you are lactose intolerant it will cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. Symptoms should be resolved by switching to lactose free products. Call your doctor’s office if the diarrhea persists past 2-3 days.

What do I do about gas?

Gas is very common in the first few weeks after surgery. You can take Gas-X strips, Mylicon Drops, or Simethicone (generic) to help relieve gas pains.

Why do I need to drink so much water?

Proper hydration is critical during recovery from surgery. When food intake is low, it becomes even more important to drink fluids to meet the needs of your body. Dehydration is one of the most common reasons for rehospitalization. It can cause weakness, fatigue, light-headedness, dizziness and constipation. Shrinking cells are buoyed by water, which plumps the skin and leaves it clear, healthy and resilient. Water helps rid the body or waste. During weight loss, the body has a lot more waste to get rid of. You should sip constantly on water between meals—your goal is to get up to 64 ounces of water a  day. In the first few weeks after surgery it is difficult to drink a lot of water but you can add plenty of sugar free Popsicles and ice chips.

Why do I sometimes feel tightness in my chest area after eating? 

This can be caused by eating too fast, not chewing well enough, taking too big of a bite or drinking with meals. Stop what you are doing. Stand up and pace the floor. This may help tightness to go away sooner.

What do I do if I get something stuck in the pouch? 

If you get food stuck in the pouch you will feel an intense pressure or tightness in your diaphragm and your mouth will begin to water. This pressure can sometimes be felt in your upper back. You can drink about 1 ounce  of pineapple juice to help dislodge the food or you can try walking or standing to see if the food will move through the pouch or come back up. If this doesn’t work, try again in an hour or two. If after the second attempt you are not feeling any relief, call your surgeon. Having had food stuck in the pouch can cause the pouch irritation and inflammation. If you have difficulty tolerating solid foods after this, revert back to full liquids for 48 hours then advance to soft foods for 48 hours before trying solids again. If you are unable to tolerate solid foods after this please notify the office. 

Contact Panhandle Weight Loss Center

We hope that these frequently asked questions help you feel more comfortable and prepared for the recovery process after your weight loss surgery. We realize, however, that we can’t possibly anticipate or answer every question patients may have. If you need more information about recovery after bariatric surgery or if you are experiencing any post-surgery complications, please don’t hesitate to contact us.