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Making Bariatric Surgery Work for You

After bariatric surgery, success is in your hands. The changes you make need to be lifelong commitments. Follow any instructions you are given on nutrition and activity. Be aware that how you see yourself and how others see you may change. Turn to those close to you for support. They can help you adjust to your new life.

What to expect as you lose weight

Most likely, you will lose weight steadily for the first 6 to 12 months after surgery. The most rapid weight loss often happens during the first 6 months after surgery. Most people lose over half their excess weight in the first year and a half. After that, you may gain a small amount of weight back. This is normal. Set realistic and meaningful goals for weight loss. Most likely, you won’t reach your ideal weight. But you’ll reach a healthier weight.

Changing your eating habits

To stay healthy, you may be given guidelines such as:

  • Choose high-protein foods to help prevent nutritional problems.

  • Eat slowly. Take small bites. Chew each bite well before swallowing it.

  • Stop eating when you feel satisfied. Try not to reach that full feeling. Doing so can stretch the bariatric surgical procedure and allow you to eat more. 

  • If you want to snack between scheduled meals, talk with your dietitian about healthy snack choices.

  • Drink sugar-free liquids, such as water. Drink them between (not with) meals. Wait at least 30 to 60 minutes after meals before drinking liquids.

  • Take vitamins as directed.

  • Don't eat fibrous foods, such as celery, string beans, and unprocessed meat.

  • Don't drink alcohol and carbonated drinks.

Having an active lifestyle

These tips can help you succeed:

  • Choose a form of regular exercise you enjoy. It can be as simple as daily walking. Walking is a popular choice for people who have had bariatric surgery. But, don't swim until your incisions heal.

  • Exercise at your own pace. Start slow and increase the time and intensity as you heal. Don't lift weights, or do sit-ups or pull-ups, or any exercise that strains your abdominal muscles until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

  • Ask a friend to join you.

  • Keep a record of your exercise activity in a calendar or notebook. Some people find this a good way to track their progress and stay motivated.

Finding support

See your bariatric surgery team on a regular basis, especially during the first year after surgery. 

You might talk to:

  • Friends and family members.

  • Other bariatric surgery patients. Often they know just what you’re going through. You may find other people through a support group at your bariatric surgery program. Or there may be a group in your local community. There are also online communities such as BariatricPal.

  • A mental health professional. If you spoke to one before surgery, you might seek him or her out again. Special counseling or classes may be helpful.


  • American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Obesity Education Initiative

Online Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Godsey
Online Medical Reviewer: Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2019
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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