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Weight Loss Surgery Effects From Head to Toe

Before you get weight loss surgery, you need to know what to expect after you've recovered. The changes won't just be about your weight, and some of them may surprise you.

Weight loss surgery can change just about every aspect of your life, including your eating habits, self-image, and relationships.

Weight Loss

Ask your doctor how much weight you can expect to lose.  The type of weight loss surgery makes a difference. Surgeries that affect digestion, such as gastric bypass, tend to result in faster and greater weight loss than adjustable banding procedures.

Many people find that their weight loss ebbs and flows over months, dropping, then leveling off, and then dropping again. Depending on the procedure, you might keep losing weight for up to 2 or 3 years after surgery.

Eating

Weight loss surgery will radically change how you can eat. Meals that might have seemed tiny in the past will quickly make you full. You'll need to eat small amounts slowly, and chew well.

Doctors usually recommend eating a number of small meals a day, with a special emphasis on foods high in protein. They usually advise against drinking when you eat, because it can wash food out of the stomach too quickly and interfere with your feeling of fullness.

Nutrition

Because you're eating less, you need to focus on choosing the most nutritious foods. Some weight loss surgeries, including gastric bypass, also make it harder for your body to absorb nutrients.

Talk to your doctor or a dietitian for advice on what sorts of foods to eat after weight loss surgery and whether you should take supplements.

Health Benefits

After gastric bypass or certain other types of weight loss surgery, the health benefits often happen right away. For instance, your diabetes might improve dramatically. The same might be true of high blood pressure, arthritis, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and other conditions.

Improved health after adjustable banding procedures may be more gradual. You'll need to schedule regular checkups after surgery, so your doctor can keep a close eye on your health as you recover.

A More Active Life

Keeping the weight off takes work, and becoming more active is key.

If you're not active now, take it easy when you get started, and gradually make it more challenging.  Talk to your doctor about easy ways to begin. You may also benefit from working with a physical therapist or trainer.

Your Appearance

Many people are thrilled to see the changes in how they look as they start losing after weight loss surgery. There are some downsides, too. As your body shrinks, you may find that your skin doesn't shrink as much. It may start to look loose and baggy. Some people choose to have plastic surgery to remove this extra skin.

Your Self-Image

It may take a while to get used to the new you and to adjust to the changes in your lifestyle.  You might also realize how much you relied on food for comfort in the past, something that's just not possible after surgery.

That's normal. Consider talking to a therapist about it. You can also ask your doctor if there are support groups in the area for people who have had weight loss surgery. Meeting people who are going through the same changes helps a lot.

Your Relationships

When you lose a lot of weight, it can affect your relationships. For instance, if you usually socialize while eating and drinking, you may need to think of new ways of meeting up with family and friends that aren't so focused on food.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on August 19, 2014

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