Emory Bariatrics Center at Decatur

Life After Bariatric Surgery

The first thing you must realize about life after bariatric surgery is this: It's not a quick fix.

You're on a new and ongoing journey toward weight loss management, and you'll get there after making significant lifestyle changes. After surgery, your body will experience changes that will make it physically easier to adjust to your eating and lifestyle habits. The good news is that you won't have to go through the process alone. A team of professionals at our Atlanta weight loss center will be there every step of the way to support your bariatric weight loss management efforts. You'll see positive changes in your body, your weight and your health, but you'll need to be patient throughout the recovery process.

What Will Eating Be Like?

Emory Decatur Hospital’s team of professionals at our weight loss center are asked this question frequently, as many patients want to know what eating will be like after bariatric surgery. The changes that were made to your gastrointestinal tract are going to require some permanent changes in your eating habits. Successful weight loss management means that you will have to permanently alter your eating habits if you want to be successful in your new life after bariatric surgery.

Post-surgery dietary guidelines vary from one bariatric surgeon to another. You may hear about post-surgery guidelines that are different from the ones you receive; however, it's important to remember that these guidelines will be different depending on the surgeon and the type of procedure. The key to bariatric weight loss management is to follow your surgeon's guidelines, and the comprehensive weight loss center can help you determine specific guidelines for your own situation. For your convenience, we have listed some of the generally-accepted dietary guidelines below to help you maintain a healthy diet after bariatric surgery:

  • When you start eating solid food, it's very important to chew your food thoroughly and eat very slowly. Wait two to three minutes after swallowing before putting the next bite of food in your mouth. Experts at our weight loss center caution patients that they will not be able to digest steaks or other chunks of meat if they are not thoroughly ground or chewed.
  • For successful weight loss management, we recommend that you do not drink fluids while eating, as they will make you feel full before you have eaten enough food. Fluids consumed with meals can cause vomiting and dumping syndrome, which can lead to feeling hungry sooner after a meal.
  • Don't eat desserts and other items with sugar if they have more than three to five grams per serving size.
  • Avoid carbonated drinks, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes, food that is high in fat and food without nutritional value.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Limit snacking between meals. Eating after bariatric surgery will be much different than before.
  • Consider dietary counseling. Dietitians and nutritionists can advise patients as to what foods they should be eating to help ensure they are receiving enough vitamins and minerals. It is also important to formulate a meal program that satisfies the patient's caloric requirements to maintain good health while continuing to support the loss of weight.
  • Exercise. This is crucial to any bariatric weight loss management program. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, burns calories, and improves the overall health of your body. Experts at our weight loss center recommend that our patients meet with a personal fitness trainer and exercise physiologist who can design a custom program to encourage safe exercise. As you progress in physical capability, these programs will continue to be modified to promote maximum effectiveness without putting you at risk.

Going Back to Work After Bariatric Surgery

Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity will vary according to your physical condition, the nature of the activity and the type of weight loss surgery you experienced. Many of the patients we have treated at return to work and are able to exercise within one to three weeks after their laparoscopic bariatric procedure. Patients who have had an open procedure typically return to work and are able to exercise approximately six weeks after surgery.

Birth Control and Pregnancy

In order to maintain effective weight loss management efforts, and more importantly, preserve patient safety, experts at our weight loss center strongly advise that women of childbearing age use the most effective forms of birth control during the 18 to 24 months after weight loss surgery. The added demands that pregnancy places on your body and the potential for fetal damage make this one of the most important requirements.

Long-Term Follow-Up after Bariatric Surgery

Although the short-term effects of weight-loss surgery are well understood, there are still questions to be answered about the long-term effects on nutrition and body systems. Nutritional deficiencies that occur over the course of many years will need to be studied, and may depend on your diet after bariatric surgery. At our weight loss center, we conduct periodic check-ups for anemia (low red blood cell count) and Vitamin B12, folate and iron levels. Emory Decatur Hospital’s weight loss center conducts weight loss management follow-up tests for patients at least yearly or more often as indicated.

Support Groups

The widespread use of support groups has provided weight loss surgery patients with an excellent opportunity to discuss various personal and professional issues with weight loss management. Many learn, for example, that weight loss surgery will not immediately resolve existing emotional issues or heal the years of damage that morbid obesity might have inflicted on their emotional well-being. Our surgeons have weight loss management support groups in place at our weight loss center to assist you with short- and long-term questions and needs, including the most effective exercise and diets after bariatric surgery. Most bariatric surgeons who frequently perform weight loss surgery will tell you that ongoing post-surgical bariatric weight loss management support helps produce the greatest level of success for patients in their lives after undergoing surgery. Details about our support groups.


Another valuable resource is the Emory Decatur Hospital Wellness Center. This 18,000 square-foot facility in Decatur is an ideal place to get regular exercise after weight loss surgery. Discounted Wellness Center memberships designed specifically for Comprehensive Weight Loss Center patients are available.