Life After Weight Loss Surgery - All You Need to Know

Reviewed by: John Rabkin, MD

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.

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This page will explain all the aspects of life after weight loss surgery so you can decide if a bariatric procedure is right for you…

Recovery
Depends on Procedure, Focus on Healing Body
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Recovery: Depends on Procedure, Focus on Healing Body

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.

Your Weight & Health
Depending On Procedure – Can Lose 26% – 90% of Excess Weight, Can See Significant Health Improvements
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Your Weight & Health: Depending On Procedure – Can Lose 26% – 90% of Excess Weight, Can See Significant Health Improvements

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 for the more aggressive procedures such as gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, gastric banding, and duodenal switch and between 26% and 46% of your excess weight for the less aggressive and temporary gastric balloon. 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
Obesity Health Problems
Asthma
Asthma
Cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease
Death
Death
Depression
Depression
Dyslipidemia hypercholesterolemia
Dyslipidemia hypercholesterolemia
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Metabolic syndrome
Metabolic syndrome
Migraines
Migraines
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Orthopedic problems or degenerative joint disease
Orthopedic problems or degenerative joint disease
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Pseudotumor cerebri
Pseudotumor cerebri
Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea
Stress urinary incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence
Venous stasis disease
Venous stasis disease
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
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

“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.

Diet
Crucial To Your Success, Will Require Lifestyle Changes
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Diet: Crucial To Your Success, Will Require Lifestyle Changes

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.

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…

Exercise
Boost Weight Loss, Health, and Libido
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Exercise: Boost Weight Loss, Health, and Libido

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.

Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery
Generally Safer than Obese Pregnancy, Some Procedures May Need To Be Reversed
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Pregnancy After Bariatric Surgery: Generally Safer than Obese Pregnancy, Some Procedures May Need To Be Reversed

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.

Depending on the procedure you may need to take some action if you become pregnant. For example, if you’ve had the vBloc or AspireAssist Devices inserted you will need to have them removed immediately once you become pregnant.

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

Support Groups
Shown to be Vital Your Long-term Success
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Support Groups: Shown to be Vital Your Long-term Success

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.

Two Weight Loss Surgery Support Group Options

Following is a comparison of your two weight loss surgery support group options:

  • In-person meetings, such as those offered by your surgeon
  • Anonymous online meetings, such as BariGroups
Participation
Participation
Meeting Moderation
Meeting Moderation
Start Session with Educational Topic
Start Session with Educational Topic
Meeting Location
Meeting Location
Meeting Times
Meeting Times
Cost
Cost
 
In-Person Meetings
Participation
Face-to-Face
Meeting Moderation
Moderated by Bariatric Professional
Start Session with Educational Topic
Depends
Meeting Location
Physical Location
Meeting Times
Limited; Usually no more than 1 per week
Cost
Depends
 
BariGroups
Participation
Anonymous: Nurse Moderator Shares Video & Audio; Participants Join by Audio Only
Meeting Moderation
Moderated by Bariatric Nurses
Start Session with Educational Topic
Yes
Meeting Location
Attend from Anywhere from Any Device (Phone or Internet)
Meeting Times
Multiple per week
Cost
Free (Tipping Nurse Moderator is Optional)

Click here to learn more about BariGroups Anonymous Online Weight Loss Surgery Support Groups.

Click here to contact a top surgeon about the support groups they offer.

See the following pages for more on how to find and use the bariatric surgery support that is right for you…

Relationships
Can Have Both Negative and Positive Impacts
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Relationships: Can Have Both Negative and Positive Impacts

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.

Plastic Surgery
May Be Needed For Excess Skin After Substantial Weight Loss
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Plastic Surgery: May Be Needed For Excess Skin After Substantial Weight Loss

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.

Other Challenges
Can Include Weight Regain and Depression
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Other Challenges: Can Include Weight Regain and Depression

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…

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

Real-Life Patient Experiences & Videos
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Real-Life Patient Experiences & Videos

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.

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

Ask A Top Bariatric Surgeon About Life After Weight Loss Surgery

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References for Life After Weight Loss Surgery

  • 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.
  • *   Bariatric Surgery Source is not affiliated with and was not involved in the creation of the          videos on this page.
  • 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)
  • 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 : 09/16/2016]

* Disclaimer: The information contained in this website is provided for general information purposes and your specific results may vary depending on a variety of circumstances. 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