Life After Weight Loss Surgery: All Aspects

Life after weight loss surgery will be a 180 degree turn from what you are used to. Despite what some people may think, bariatric surgery is not an “easy way out”.

But even though it can be difficult at times, most patients say it was the best decision they have ever made.

Recovering from Bariatric Surgery

Surgery recovery will involve careful attention to your surgeon's instructions, including a special diet that will allow your stomach to heal properly.

You're also likely to face some challenges while your body gets used to the changes.

See our Bariatric Surgery Recovery page to learn what to expect.

Weight & Health in Your Life After Weight Loss Surgery

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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Depending on which types of bariatric surgery you are considering, a successful procedure will cause you to lose anywhere from 50% to 90% of your excess weight. By completely eliminating obesity discrimination and improving your quality of life, your mental health will be better than ever.

Improvements to your physical health can be equally as impressive.

The following conditions have been shown to get better or completely go away following bariatric surgery1...

Obesity Health Problems % of Bariatric Surgery Patients
Asthma
82% improved or resolved
Cardiovascular disease
82% risk reduction
Death
89% reduction in 5-year death rate
Depression
55% improved or resolved
Diabetes (type 2)
83% resolved
Dyslipidemia hypercholesterolemia
63% resolved
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
72 to 98% resolved
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
52 to 92% resolved
Metabolic syndrome
80% resolved
Migraines 57% resolved
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
90% improved steatosis; 37% resolution of inflammation; 20% resolution of fibrosis on repeat biopsy
Orthopedic problems or degenerative joint disease
41 to 76% resolved
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
78% resolution of hirsuitism; 100% resolution of menstrual dysfunction
Pseudotumor cerebri
96% resolved
Sleep apnea
74 to 98% resolved
Stress urinary incontinence
44 to 88% resolved
Venous stasis disease 95% resolved
NOTE: Results vary greatly by procedure. See the Buchwald, et al meta analysis paper for a procedure-based and much more thorough analysis.

"Bariatric surgery may be the only cure for many obesity health problems."

In actuality, bariatric surgery may be the only cure for many of these.

See our Obesity Health Problems page for more about the above conditions.

Despite all of these positive outcomes, you'll need to develop permanent long-term habits in order to maintain your weight and health goals. And it is next to certain that you will NOT be able to do this on your own; they direct support of family, friends and your weight loss surgery team will be integral to your long-term success.

For example, a recent study of 380 patients found that:3

  • The more services a patient received after surgery, the greater their percentage of excess weight loss
  • Patients who completed group exercise sessions and nutritional consultation after surgery lost more weight than did those who did not complete these services

Moreover, if you let your post-surgery habits slip and find yourself putting weight back on, you'll be more likely to experience a recurrence of your former health problems. For example, most patients with diabetes experience a complete remission of the disease following bariatric surgery. But one out of five of these patients see their diabetes return, due in part to having a higher body weight as time goes on following surgery.4

The following sections dive into the importance of diet and exercise during life after weight loss surgery.


One final important note about long-term health… be mindful of abdominal pain. Bariatric surgery complications can develop at any time, so if you notice anything that feels a little “off”, play it safe and schedule a visit with your surgeon.

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Diet in Your Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Get ready for some significant changes to both what you eat and how you eat.

Don’t worry… it may not be as hard as it sounds. Many patients find that their unhealthy food cravings completely go away, plus your new stomach will cause you to feel full much sooner than before surgery.

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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Appropriate changes to your diet are so important that we have devoted an entire section of our site to them. Here are a few pages to get you started…

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Exercise in Your Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Daily exercise is extremely important and should be integrated into your life after weight loss surgery. It has been proven to…

Our Exercise for Bariatric Surgery Patients section explains the best ways to start a personalized workout routine that you can stick with.

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Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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If you get pregnant after bariatric surgery, there are some things you’ll need to do differently than you would have before surgery. In general, pregnancy and child birth after weight loss surgery are much safer than they are if you are obese.

Our Pregnancy After Weight Loss Surgery page reviews the details along with the steps that should be taken for a successful pregnancy.

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Support in Your Life After Weight Loss Surgery

In order to have successful long-term bariatric surgery results, research suggests that you will need more support than what can be provided from family and friends alone…

"...the more often patients attend group meetings, the more weight they lose."

  • Study 1 - Patients who attend support groups achieved a 1.6 lower body mass index than patients who do not. (See our How to Calculate BMI page for more about body mass index)
  • Study 2 – Support group patients have a 10% lower BMI than non-support group patients.
  • Study 3 – Not only do support group attendees lose more weight, but the more often patients attend group meetings, the more weight they lose.

In addition to holding you accountable for your actions, support groups give you an outlet to discuss problems and situations with people who are going through the same experience.

See the following pages to learn how to find and use the bariatric surgery support that is right for you...

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Relationships in Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Relationship changes are another great reason to participate in a bariatric surgery support group. These changes often go overlooked by people considering bariatric surgery, and they can be both positive and negative depending on the situation.

See our Relationships After Weight Loss page for real stories about relationships after weight loss... and please share your advice and experiences as well.

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Plastic Surgery following Bariatric Surgery

You’ll be healthier, you’ll feel better and you’ll look better after weight loss surgery. For many patients, that’s all they could want or hope for.

But the extra skin that many patients have following surgery leads them to consider reconstructive plastic surgery. In addition to improving your appearance, patients often take this route for medical reasons including rashes and problems maintaining hygiene between the skin folds.

The most common parts of the body to receive reconstructive plastic surgery following weight loss surgery are…

If you decide to incorporate cosmetic surgery into your life after weight loss surgery, it’s best to wait at least a year or two until your body reaches its new final weight.

See our Bariatric Plastic Surgery After Weight Loss page for more information.

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Other Challenges

Weight loss surgery sometimes comes with other challenges that many folks aren't keen to talk about up front. Click the following links to learn more about each topic...

Real-Life Patient Experiences & Videos

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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As we’ve discussed, offline and online support groups are a great way to get first-hand testimony of every stage of pre- and post-bariatric surgery life… both before and after you begin the journey.

If possible, talk with patients who were treated by your surgeon to give you an understanding of what to expect. The best bariatric doctors can usually refer you to support groups that their patients attend.

Click here to read experinces about life after bariatric surgery from other patients.

Following are interviews with and stories about actual bariatric surgery patients. They explain the good, the bad and the ugly about life after weight loss surgery…

Professionally made videos about life after weight loss surgery*…



Homemade videos about life after weight loss surgery*...

Click here to review the homemade bariatric surgery videos from other patients.

YOUR Weight Loss Journey

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For changes to expect specific to each type of bariatric surgery, see the following pages…

Or for an overview and comparison of all bariatric surgery procedures, see our Types of Bariatric Surgery page.

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References for Life After Weight Loss Surgery

  1. Stacy A Brethauer, Bipan Chand and Philip R Schauer. Risks and benefits of bariatric surgery: current evidence. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine 2006; 73(11):993-1007; doi:10.3949/ccjm.73.11.993.
  2. *   Bariatric Surgery Source is not affiliated with and was not involved in the creation of the          videos on this page.
  3. Jessica C. Peacock, Sam J. Zizzi. Survey of bariatric surgical patients' experiences with behavioral and psychological services. Surgery for obesity and related diseases : official journal of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery 9 December 2011 (Article in Press DOI: 10.1016/j.soard.2011.11.015)
  4. Type 2 Diabetes Cured by Weight Loss Surgery Returns in One-Fifth of Patients. The Endocrine Society. Press Release 6/24/12. Avail at: http://www.endo-society.org/media/press/2012/Type-2-Diabetes-Cured-by-Weight-Loss-Surgery-Returns-in-One-Fifth-of-Patients.cfm

[Last editorial review/modification of this page: 3/28/2014]

Disclaimer: The information contained in this web site is provided for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as nor should be relied upon as medical advice. Rather, it is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her existing physician(s). Before you use any of the information provided in the site, you should seek the advice of a qualified medical, dietary, fitness or other appropriate professional. Read More