If you have trouble losing weight or are at risk of health problems because you’re overweight, your doctor may suggest gastric bypass surgery. This type of surgery makes the stomach smaller and changes how it and the small intestine handle food. These changes will allow you to eat less food but still feel full. Take a look at these before and after photos and learn what happens to prepare for the surgery and care for yourself afterward.

Before Gastric Bypass Surgery

gastric-drawIf you decide to undergo gastric bypass, your surgeon will have you visit other medical professionals for testing and counseling beforehand. Along with a complete physical examination, the tests include an ultrasound of your gallbladder, blood tests and others to ensure that you’re healthy for the surgery. The doctors will also ensure that you’re in control of any existing health conditions such as diabetes, heart and lung issues, and high blood pressure. It’s also important that you stop smoking several weeks prior to the surgery and refrain from smoking afterward to improve the recovery process and reduce the risk of complications.

The counseling that you receive will help you understand nutrition and the types of foods that you should and shouldn’t eat following the procedure. You might also see a counselor to ensure that you’re emotionally prepared for the gastric bypass and to make the necessary lifestyle changes afterward. Additionally, you will attend classes to learn more about the surgery process, what to expect afterward and the possible risks.

While talking with your nurse or surgeon, indicate whether you might be or are pregnant. Also let your team know of any prescription or over-the-counter herbs, medications, supplements or vitamins that you’re taking. In the week prior to the procedure, you might have to stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin because these hinder blood clotting. On surgery day, stop eating and drinking as instructed.

 After Gastric Bypass Surgery

recovery4After the procedure, you may stay in the hospital for up to four days. Shortly following the surgery, your nurse will ask you to sit on the side of the bed and take a short walk. For one or two days, you may have two catheters: One that runs through your nose and into your stomach to help drain fluids from your intestine, and another that removes urine from your bladder.

It could take up to three days before you can consume liquids, and you will remain on a diet of liquid or pureed foods for two to three weeks. After that, you can slowly add soft foods into your diet, and then regular foods, eating small portions and chewing every bite completely and slowly. You won’t be able to drink with your meals. Instead, you’ll need to wait 30 minutes and sip rather than gulp.

Since you’re eating less now, you need to make sure that you’re getting a balance of protein, minerals and vitamins. This means sticking mostly to fruits, healthy proteins, vegetables and whole grains. Your nutrition counseling will have covered the right balance of foods for your after-surgery diet. Additionally, you will need to rely on certain supplements to get the minerals and vitamins that your body can no longer absorb. The most important of these are calcium, a multivitamin with iron, and vitamins B12 and D.

Gastric Bypass Follow-Up Visits

You need to visit your health care provider for regular checkups after having gastric bypass surgery to track your weight and ensure that you’re eating properly. These visits are great opportunities to express any problems that you’re having with recovery or your diet.