Recovery from each surgical procedure differs, as it does from person to person. Because most weight loss procedures are done using minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, patients can expect a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, smaller scars, and less pain than open surgical procedures. In general, recovery from gastric banding, gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy procedures can last from 2 to 8 weeks. Your safety and success with the REALIZE™ Solution† for gastric banding, gastric bypass, or sleeve gastrectomy depend on how well you follow the directions provided by your bariatric team. The diet and recovery plan presented below is general and may differ from the recommendations provided by your team. As always, follow the directions provided by your healthcare team.
Here are some of the things you can expect regarding diet and physical activity during your weight loss surgery recovery period.
Recovery in the first 2 weeks
- Immediately after bariatric surgery you will be on a clear liquid diet. As your body heals, you'll slowly progress to a full liquid diet. Your healthcare team will provide advice on the quantity and types of liquids that are right for you at this stage.
- You'll be encouraged to slowly sip at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, noncarbonated fluids each day to stay hydrated.
- Avoid alcohol and carbonated beverages.
- Stay mobile. Pneumonia and blood clots are two risks for anyone who has had surgery. To reduce these risks, start moving. To begin your exercise program, take walks or use a treadmill.
- Use caution when bending at the waist and picking up heavy objects. If you injure your abdomen, you may lengthen your recovery period.
- Your healthcare team will advise you when to return to work and when to resume prior activities. Of course, this timing depends on your type of employment, the required physical activity, and your bariatric surgery recovery progress.
- Consult with your healthcare team before starting an exercise program.
Weight loss surgery pain
- A few days after any type of abdominal surgery, many people have pain that radiates to the shoulder and neck. This is normal. The pain should go away in a few days. However, if the pain persists, consult your physician.
Recovery from 3 to 6 weeks
- You will begin eating soft foods and progress toward solid foods. Your healthcare team will advise you on the quantity and types of food that are appropriate at this stage, so you can maintain healthy and balanced nutrition.
- If soft foods are tolerated well, solid foods can be introduced about 1 month after surgery.
- If you feel nauseated or regurgitate when you start eating soft foods, go back to your liquid diet and wait a few more days before trying soft foods again. If you have abdominal pain that lasts more than 3 hours, you need to contact your surgeon right away.
- Once you can tolerate solid foods, a typical meal will include protein-rich foods such as lean meat, eggs, and low-fat dairy products (yogurt or cheese), as well as starches and whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Protein helps you feel full longer.
- Avoid raw vegetables, fruits with skin, nuts, popcorn, tough meats, stringy foods, and crusty bread, like bagels and pretzels. If you have the REALIZE™ Band, including these foods in your diet after bariatric surgery may block your stoma (the small opening between the upper and lower stomach pouches).
- Avoid high-sugar, high-fat, or high-calorie foods because they can cause dumping syndrome for bypass patients, an uncomfortable feeling of nausea, lightheadedness, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Drink at least 64 ounces of low-calorie, noncarbonated fluids each day to stay hydrated.
- Avoid carbonated beverages, alcohol, and high-calorie drinks like milkshakes, smoothies, and specialty coffee drinks.
- Patients who have had gastric bypass surgery: your body will absorb fewer nutrients after the procedure. Because of this, you must supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin and calcium.
Learn more about nutrition and fitness after bariatric surgery.
- Continue walking and add aerobic exercises such as cycling, jogging, and swimming. These activities will help increase your energy level, burn calories, and tone your muscles.
- Your abdominal muscles are healing, so lift with caution and do not perform any abdominal exercises until a member of your healthcare team gives you permission to do so.
- Many patients have their first adjustment after eating solid foods for 1 week. (See REALIZE Gastric Band Adjustments for more detail). Remember, the REALIZE Band provides some restriction even when it is empty. If you are losing 1 to 2 pounds a week and feel satisfied with an appropriate portion of food, you may not need an adjustment. Your doctor will determine when you need an adjustment.
Weight loss in the first few months
Many people find that the weight comes off quickly during the first few months after bariatric surgery. However, the pace of weight loss will likely slow down. Don't be discouraged if you're not losing weight as fast as you had hoped. With the right tools, habits, and support, you can get there.
Setting realistic expectations for yourself
Regardless of the procedure you have, we encourage you to set realistic goals for yourself, including goals around exercise, weight loss, and food choices. You may not be able to start an exercise regimen immediately and you may not always make the best food choices. That's okay. By having bariatric surgery, you're making a lifelong commitment to your health. Establishing a healthy lifestyle takes time.
Create small goals that are meaningful to you, like walking 2 miles or making a better food choice at your next meal. Then celebrate your weight loss success. Check out our Nutrition page to learn more about tracking your progress.