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Post-Bariatric Surgery Guide

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A bariatric procedure can significantly help in a patient’s weight-loss journey. However, there are several guidelines to keep in mind to help ensure a smooth recovery period and set the stage for healthy lifestyle changes. At Richmond University Medical Center in Staten Island, New York, the team ensures each patient knows what to expect after surgery and provides comprehensive support. Learn more about the common guidelines advised to patients recovering from bariatric surgery.

Diet and nutrition after Bariatric and Metabolic Surgery

The average post-surgical diet moves slowly through several phases as advised by the surgeon. Nutrition is important for every patient. Directly after surgery, patients are required to follow a special diet as recommended by the medical team. Patients typically begin with liquids and then gradually incorporate soft foods and solid foods into meals. The average post-surgical diet moves through several phases:

Liquid Phase

Patients typically need to maintain a liquid diet for 2 weeks after surgery. At first, only clear liquids are recommended such as clear/water based/sugar-free/milk-free/caffeine-free protein drinks, water, sugar-free carbonation free drinks, diluted/un-sweetened fruit juice, beef/chicken/vegetable broth, jell-o, and sugar free ice pops, for about 1 week before full liquids.

Puree Phase

Once it is shown that liquids are tolerated, patients may be able to handle strained or pureed foods. These meals should be free of any small solids, having the consistency of smooth, thick liquids. To achieve the desired flavor and consistency, foods can be combined with many of the above liquids. Common pureed food choices include:

  • Lean, ground meat, such as turkey or chicken
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Strained soups
  • Yogurt
  • Some fruits

Soft Food Phase

With clearance from their physician, patients may incorporate soft foods into their diet. The typical recommendation is between three and five small meals per day. Several foods may be added during this stage of the post-bariatric diet, such as:

  • Flaked fish
  • Well-cooked vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Beans and Legumes Chicken and turkey

Solid Food Phase

Patients may begin to incorporate solid foods into their diet about eight weeks after surgery. With each meal totaling about 1 to 1-1/2 c of food, patients may begin with three meals per day.  Remember protein first and follow with veggies and a small amount of whole grain carbohydrates. You want to avoid:

  • Foods high in saturated fats
  • Carbonated beverages
  • Slider/snack foods like chips and pretzels
  • Fried food
  • Food high in sugar

Please note: The dietary recommendations for patients may vary depending on an individual’s needs and health status. A physician will provide specific guidance after surgery.

Key Dietary Guidelines for Recovery

While moving through dietary phases during the recovery period, the slow incorporation of new foods helps ease each transition. Patients should also eat every meal slowly, chew thoroughly, and stop eating when they feel full. Additional guidance may be provided, including:


Patients should pay special attention to their fluid intake, aiming to drink 64 oz of fluid and per day. They should take small sips slowly, and avoid gulping or the use of a straw. Adequate hydration is important for bariatric surgery patients in many ways, including easing and preventing the following ailments:

  • Nausea
  • Potential kidney problems
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

Maintaining a Well-Balanced Diet

Patients should strive for delicious, well-balanced meals that contain protein, starch, fruit/vegetable, and healthy fat, each in the right portion sizes. Receiving enough lean protein is a key component. Depending on the patient, it is typically recommended to take in between 60 and 100 grams of protein per day. Focusing on protein-rich foods can help combat weakness and muscle loss. Ideal sources of protein for post-bariatric surgery patients include:

  • Fish
  • Lean meats, such as turkey or chicken breast
  • Low-fat deli meats
  • Eggs or egg substitutes
  • Soups

Vitamins and Supplements

It is recommended that patients take vitamin and mineral supplements daily for life after bariatric and metabolic surgery. Vitamin and mineral supplements help ensure patients receive the nutrition their bodies need to heal, avoid nutritional deficiencies and thrive in the long term. Along with a multivitamin, the recommended supplements may include:

  • Vitamin B-12
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D
  • Iron
  • Folic acid

While some patients may be able tPatients will be monitored at follow-up appointments and through routine blood testing.o take these supplements in pill form, others may prefer chewable or liquid options.

Shakes and Liquid Diet

A few weeks after surgery, it may be recommended that patients begin using protein supplements to ensure adequate nutrition intake. This is also helpful for patients having trouble meeting protein recommendations through everyday meals. Flavored and non-flavored protein powders are available and easily incorporate in a blender with the following:

  • Yogurt
  • Fruit
  • Soups
  • Sugar-free juices

In many cases, protein supplements are typically recommended over meal replacements for their low carbohydrate and fat content.

Exercise after Bariatric Surgery

While bariatric surgery can help with weight loss, regular physical activity is still an important part of maintaining a healthy body. A well-rounded exercise program has several benefits, including:

  • Heart health
  • Bone health
  • Calorie burn
  • Blood sugar control
  • Muscle development and toning
  • Improved metabolic rate
  • Balanced moods and stress relief

Walking is often recommended as an initial starting point during the early recovery period. Patients may begin by taking brisk, short walks each day. Over time, they may increase the duration of this activity and incorporate other exercises as recommended by their physician. It is typically suggested to wait at least six weeks after surgery to begin strength training, and other more strenuous exercises, to help give the body adequate time to heal.

Pregnancy following Bariatric Surgery

Women who wish to become pregnant after bariatric surgery can do so safely and healthfully under the guidance of a physician. Studies show that most women are at lower risk for obesity-reacted conditions after weight-loss surgery, such as:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Blood pressure issues
  • Newborns larger than gestational age

Medical professionals typically advise women to avoid pregnancy for  2 years after surgery as the necessary nutrient increase is not recommended after the procedure. Additionally, this timeline gives patients ample opportunity to adapt to their new lifestyle, achieve a solid nutritional foundation, and reach a healthy weight.

Post-Bariatric Surgery Complications

As with any medical procedure, complications may arise after bariatric weight-loss surgery. These may include:

  • New symptoms: It is common for patients to experience symptoms such as appetite changes, constipation, and dehydration while recovering from surgery. Immediately after the procedure, patients may also experience post-op nausea and vomiting.
  • Dumping syndrome: When food passes into the small intestine too quickly, dumping syndrome occurs. Also known as rapid gastric emptying, this condition can be managed with the help of a physician. It is often characterized by any of the following symptoms:
    • Abdominal cramps
    • Nausea/vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Feeling bloated
    • Flushing/sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Rapid heart rate
  • Mental health issues: Some patients may experience feelings of depression and isolation after surgery. It is common for the effects of weight-loss surgery to go beyond the physical, and lead to mild depression. The important thing for patients to remember is that support is available at Richmond University Medical Center.

Bariatric Surgery Follow-Up Support and Monitoring

The patient’s relationship with Richmond University Medical Center continues well after surgery. Follow-up appointments and education are important parts of post-surgical care. These appointments allow the physician to monitor weight-loss progress and detect any issues that arise early. They are also an opportunity for patients to ask questions and gain additional support during their weight-loss journey. For more information about the recommended post-bariatric surgery guidelines, contact us today in Staten Island, NY.