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Recovery After Bariatric Surgery

The lifestyle decisions you make after bariatric surgery can determine your success in keeping your weight at a healthy level. Your bariatric surgery team at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill will give you information you need to make healthy decisions, regardless of whether you had gastric bypass or sleeve gastrectomy surgery.

First Few Weeks

You’ll stay in the hospital for one to two nights after surgery, depending on your procedure. Avoid heavy lifting for the first several weeks after treatment.

Your dietitian and surgeon will give you a postoperative meal plan that gradually transitions from liquid food to soft foods to solid foods. Your surgeon also will meet with you two to three weeks after your surgery to:

  • Monitor whether you’re eating enough protein and drinking enough water
  • Review your current medications and plans to restart or stop them
  • Give you intravenous fluids if you’re not drinking enough water
  • Clear you to start taking pills
  • See if you need any follow-up testing
  • Determine your plans for exercising
Dietitian helping consumer with nutrient options

Get Enough Nutrients

Take your vitamins regularly for the rest of your life to ensure your body receives enough nutrients. This is especially important if you had gastric bypass surgery.

Work with your bariatric care team to create a vitamin plan that meets your needs.

Long-Term Tips After Weight-Loss Surgery

Keep meeting with members of your weight-loss surgery team in the months and years after your surgery. You’ll see our nurse practitioner to monitor your lifestyle changes and nutrition:

  • Three months after surgery
  • Six months after surgery
  • Annually for five years

At your yearly visits, your team will perform laboratory tests to monitor your vitamin levels and counsel you on the lifestyle changes you made after surgery.

You may have excess skin after your weight-loss surgery. Talk to your care team about seeing a plastic surgeon to remove the excess skin 18 to 36 months after your surgery.

Bariatric Eating

You’ll want to take a new approach to eating and follow the meal plan provided by your bariatric surgery team:

  • Choose smaller portion sizes.
  • Avoid sugar, fat and salt.
  • Avoid “empty” calories in food and drink form that contain no nutrients.
  • Stay away from chips, cookies and other foods that are bagged, boxed, packaged, processed or pre-made.

Find Support with Others

Stay involved with weight-loss surgery support groups in the months and years after surgery. You’ll receive ongoing encouragement and tips from others who understand your challenges.

Join our Facebook group reserved for people who received weight-loss surgery here at UNC. You’ll learn tips for:

  • Exercise
  • Emotional changes
  • Food choices

Sign Up for a Seminar

Start your journey to bariatric surgery at UNC Medical Center by registering for a free informational seminar. For details, call 919-843-1258 to reach Lisa Prestia, RN, clinical program director.

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