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How Weight Loss Surgery Can Change Your Life

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Weight Loss Surgery: What to Expect the First Year

With bariatric surgery, the most dramatic changes happen in the first year. Here's what to expect.

Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery continued...

You'll start walking -- even just five minutes at a time, working up to 30 minutes a day, he says. "That can be a huge deal for some people." If you have arthritis, especially if it's in hips and knees, he advises water aerobics.

  • One to Three Months Post-Surgery. At this point, people start trying "regular food" to see what they can tolerate. The timing depends on the type of weight loss surgery. "Try different foods, to see what will go down easily," says Madan. "If it doesn't, just stay away from it for awhile. Wait a month and try again."

Don't set yourself up for disappointment, says Beverly P., a Memphis patient who lost 200 pounds with gastric bypass surgery. "It takes awhile to train your mind not to want much food. Don't fill up a big dinner plate, use a smaller plate. Eating can still be enjoyable -- but you don't need to eat enough to feed several more people."

  • Six Months Post-Surgery. At six months, you'll have lost a lot of weight. If you've had gastric bypass surgery, you will have lost about 30% to 40% of excess body weight. With gastric banding surgery, you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week -- so by six months, you'll have lost 25 to 50 pounds.
  • Nine Months Post-Surgery. If you had any problems at the six-month visit, your surgeon will want to see you at this milestone, too. Vitamin deficiencies or lack of sufficient weight loss are the typical issues being addressed at this point, says Madan.
  • One Year After Surgery. Between 12 to 18 months after surgery, you will have lost a great deal of weight, says Madan. With gastric bypass surgery, you likely are close to your goal. If you had gastric banding surgery, you should have lost over 100 pounds. If weight loss has lagged, it's important to find the cause -- like eating too many snack foods.

Medical Milestones After Weight Loss Surgery

Follow-up with your surgeon is critical after bariatric surgery, says Madan. "These checkups help to identify nutritional deficiencies and to ensure you're losing weight at a normal pace."

  • With gastric bypass surgery, visits are scheduled for the 3-month, 6-month, and 1-year mark (and possibly at the 9-month mark).
  • With gastric banding surgery, follow-up visits occur more frequently, typically monthly -- especially during the first year, says Madan. "We see patients often to make sure it's not too loose or too tight -- and to make sure they're eating right." If the band is too tight, it can cause vomiting.

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What will be your biggest challenge after surgery?