Health Care and Diet after Bariatric Surgery
Following bariatric surgery, you will need medical follow up to minimize the risks of rapid weight reduction. These risks can include gallstones, malnutrition, dehydration, gout, vitamin deficiencies and electrolyte disturbances.
Follow-up may also be needed for medical conditions caused by obesity that you had before surgery, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, reflux esophagitis, arthritis, and heart disease. As these problems improve with weight loss, your treatments may be modified. For example, you may need to adjust medications used to reduce blood sugar for diabetes control.
Avoiding Malnutrition – Dietary Recommendations
Weight-loss surgery alters your stomach and possibly also your intestines, changing how you digest the food you eat. This can increase your risks for malnutrition unless you carefully follow your post-surgical instructions and make changes to your way of eating.
The risks to your health post surgery include:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies: Vitamins B1, B6, B12, D, A, K, folic acid, iron
- Protein malnutrition
- Weakening of your bones (osteoporosis and osteomalacia) raising the risk of fractures
- Dumping syndrome, a severe reaction to certain foods you eat
- Daily multivitamin
- Daily vitamin B-12
- Daily calcium and vitamin D
- Three small, nutritious meals daily
- No snacking
- Eating slowly
- Drinking water liberally during the day but NOT with meals
- Annual nutritional/metabolic evaluation (or more often if your regular blood tests are abnormal)
Regular Medical Checkups – For Life
Be prepared to have regular medical checkups, including laboratory blood work, at least annually for the rest of your life. As indicated above, these checkups can help uncover serious problems with malnutrition which may be developing silently, without symptoms.
Once your weight has stabilized, you should also have a bone mineral density test (DEXA scan), and then repeat the scan at least every 4 years even if your bone density is still normal.