When it comes to bariatric surgery, you may be surprised to learn that the procedure itself is often the easiest part of the process. It’s what comes next that will require work, discipline, and a willingness to change old habits to adapt to a new lifestyle.
Bariatric surgery recovery will be challenging, but it comes with its rewards. From changes in sexual activity to fluctuations in weight and energy levels, you’re in for a few pleasant (and a few not so pleasant) surprises.
What to Expect During Bariatric Surgery Recovery
Thankfully, the rewards of bariatric surgery almost always outweigh the downsides. Here’s what you should come to expect during bariatric surgery recovery.
Some patients believe that once they have bariatric surgery, their obesity will be “cured forever,” and that all of their problems will suddenly disappear. Unfortunately, that isn’t how the process works. Bariatric surgery isn’t a magic bullet that will cure all of your woes.
One of the challenges of bariatric surgery recovery is the psychological hurdles that will inevitably come your way. Many patients become depressed as they struggle to accept the realities of living with a new body (and the challenges that come with maintaining that body).
Maybe you thought you would lose more weight from the surgery. Perhaps there are family members who aren’t supportive of your transformation. Whatever the reason, expect to go through a roller coaster of emotions during the recovery process.
Thankfully, there are ways to help you deal with the emotional challenges that may present themselves in your life post-surgery.
First and foremost, set realistic expectations for yourself. For example, don’t expect weight loss solutions to suddenly improve your love life (it may improve your sex life, however, but more on that later).
It also helps to surround yourself with a supportive circle of friends and family, while cutting out the people who aren’t willing to offer the emotional support you need to make it through the bariatric surgery recovery period.
Dealing with the emotional hurdles of surgery isn’t easy, but with realistic expectations and loving support, you can make it through.
The question many of you are likely burning to ask is whether or not bariatric surgery has a positive effect on your sex life. The answer is a resounding, yes! Studies show that significant weight gain can wreak havoc on your libido.
Unhealthy levels of body fat can cause issues like erectile dysfunction and shortness of breath during intercourse. However, losing a significant amount of weight can increase the male sex hormone testosterone, which could lead to improved performance in the bedroom.
The same goes for women. A study conducted in 2005 followed 106 female bariatric patients for two years. The results revealed that nearly all of the patients experienced a boost in sexual functionality. This included an increase in arousal, satisfaction, lubrication, and desire.
Having to Adapt to Social Situations
No matter where you are in the world, social interactions often revolve around food in one way or another. From visiting grandma (who will inevitably try to fatten you up) to hanging out with friends or coworkers at the local bar, food is an integral part of building connections with other people.
Many post-surgery patients believe their social days are over because they’re limited by the types of foods they can eat. No one wants to be that person everyone else has to accommodate, after all.
The best way to navigate social situations as a bariatric patient is to get a little creative. In situations where you’re going out to eat, don’t be afraid to take leftovers home with you. You shouldn’t feel pressured to finish everything on your plate.
Ask your surgeon or bariatric dietitian for a Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) ID card that accommodates bariatric surgery patient’s reduced stomach size and volume. This special card allows you to order off the children or senior menu, take half of your meal home and may provide discounted prices for buffets.
Even after bariatric surgery, it’s possible to gain back the weight you’ve lost if you fall back into old habits. Surgery is only the beginning of your journey. Exercise and healthy eating must become a part of your new lifestyle. Don’t forget that surgery is a tool!
That being said, that doesn’t mean you have to completely give up the foods you’ve come to love over the years. There’s nothing wrong with indulging from time to time. For example, eating a bite of cheesecake for reaching your monthly weight loss goal is a great way to motivate yourself. Just be mindful of portion sizes!
Will the transition to a new lifestyle be easy? Not by a long shot. But with discipline and a willingness to improve your health, you will eventually learn to love the brand new you.
Certain types of bariatric surgeries, like gastric bypass surgery, may alter your body in a way that makes it more difficult to absorb certain types of vitamins and minerals. As a result, you’re more susceptible to experiencing nutritional deficiencies.
You will be informed of this risk well before your procedure is scheduled, giving you plenty of time to consider all your weight loss surgery options. If you decide this route is the best option for you, be aware that you may have to take nutritional supplements after surgery.
These supplements may include:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
- Complete multivitamins
- Irons and Vitamin C
- Calcium with Vitamin D
For proper guidance on the nutritional supplements, you will need during your bariatric surgery recovery, speak with your bariatric surgeon and a trained registered dietitian.
Fluctuating Energy Levels
Bariatric surgery patients may experience a significant dip in energy following their procedure. Eventually, you should be back to your old self, but it’s not uncommon for patients to experience low energy for quite some time during your bariatric surgery recovery.
As such, learn to take it easy during the recovery period. You’re probably going to feel tired as your body heals, so get plenty of rest. Many patients try to push themselves too hard following surgery, attempting to go back to work or get back to their old routine without giving their bodies the time needed to heal properly. Predictably, this only causes more harm than good.
Furthermore, you will be prescribed an all-liquid diet post-surgery until you’re ready to consume more solid food items. That means you won’t be consuming many calories, which in turn equals even lower energy levels.
Don’t worry, as you transition to solid foods again, and if you give your body plenty of time to rest and heal, your energy levels will eventually recover.
There’s a lot to take into consideration during bariatric surgery recovery. From navigating social situations to fluctuating energy levels, bariatric surgery recovery is no cakewalk. However, the benefits of living a long and healthy life to spend with family and friends makes the effort worth it.
If you’re considering bariatric surgery, reach out to Olde Del Mar Surgical today. We can help you answer any questions you have about pre- and post-bariatric surgery.