Frequently Asked Questions about Bariatric Surgery

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)These frequently asked questions are a general guide to help you prepare for you bariatric surgery. There are many different types of procedures performed at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital New Brunswick and your surgeon may have specific preferences for you after surgery. Always check with your surgeon if you are unsure about how any of these questions apply to you.

Will I have to go on a diet before I have surgery?

Yes. There is a special pre-operative diet, usually 1 or 2 weeks just before surgery. The reason for the pre-operative diet is to shrink the liver and reduce fat in the abdomen. This helps during the procedure and makes it safer. The high-protein, low-calorie, low-carb liquid diet will be discussed with your surgeon and your registered dietician.

How long will I be in the hospital?

The average length of stay is one night. Most people are able to go home safely the next day after surgery.

Can I go off some of my medications after surgery?

As you lose weight, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the need for many of the medications you take for high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, cholesterol and diabetes. If you have a gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy or a duodenal switch, you may even be able to reduce the dosage or discontinue the use of your diabetes medications soon after your procedure. Always discuss with your doctor regarding any changes to your medications.

Will I have to diet after the procedure?

Most people think of a “diet” as a plan that leaves you hungry. That is not the way people feel after surgery. Eventually, most patients get some form of appetite back 6 to 18 months after surgery. Your appetite is much weaker, and easier to satisfy than before.

This does not mean that you can eat whatever and whenever you want. Healthier food choices are important for best results, but most patients still enjoy tasty food, and even “treats.”

Should I exercise after the procedure?

Most patients also think of exercise as something that must be intense and painful (like “boot camp”). Regular, modest activity is far more useful in the long term. Work with your surgeon’s program to find a variety of activities that can work for you. There is no “one-size-fits-all” plan. Expect to learn and change as you go!

Will I have to take vitamins and minerals after surgery? Will my insurance pay for these?

You will need to take a multivitamin for life. You may need higher doses of certain vitamins or minerals, especially iron, calcium, and vitamin D. You will also need to have at least yearly lab checks.

Will I lose my hair after bariatric surgery?

Some hair loss is common between 3 and 6 months following surgery. The reasons for this are not totally understood. Even if you take all recommended supplements, hair loss will be noticed until the follicles come back. Hair loss is almost always temporary. Adequate intake of protein, vitamins and minerals will help to ensure hair re-growth, and avoid longer-term thinning.

For more information on all of these questions, please refer to the guidebook provided to you by your surgeon’s office.