5 Surprising Benefits of Water After Bariatric Surgery

It’s common knowledge that water is vital for your health, but many of us reach for anything else to quench our thirst. Coffee, tea, soda, juice, and sports drinks are the typical go-to options, but they’re often counterproductive. Coffee, tea, and soda are all diuretics because they contain caffeine, which will ultimately dehydrate you.

The high sugar content of these drinks can also contribute to dehydration. When you introduce sugar into your bloodstream, your body needs more water to balance it. As a result, your brain sends out signals urging you to drink. If you don’t reach for water, the thirst cycle will continue.

The Importance of Water After Bariatric Surgery

Dehydration is the leading cause of rehospitalization after bariatric surgery. Many adults struggle to drink the recommended eight glasses of water per day, and this challenge increases after a bariatric procedure. You won’t be able to gulp down a bottle of water in one sitting due to your new anatomy. You will need to take frequent sips of water throughout the day to maintain adequate hydration.

However, water conveys several benefits beyond meeting basic health needs. Some of the greatest benefits of drinking more water include:

  1. Improved weight loss. The primary goal of bariatric surgery is to lose weight to improve your health. Drinking water can help expedite this goal for several reasons. For instance, many people often mistake thirst for hunger. They reach for a snack, which won’t solve the hydration issue. If you reach for water first, you may find your hunger was really thirst. You’ll also need to consume fewer calories after weight loss surgery, which makes water the superior beverage of choice. It has zero calories, which will help you avoid drinking empty calories.
  2. Reduced headaches and brain fog. Your body provides several subtle clues when you’re dehydrated. Feeling sluggish or irritable are early signs that you need more water. Given enough time, you’ll develop a headache from dehydration as well. Drinking enough water throughout the day can mitigate these issues, as well as boost your energy, focus, and mood.
  3. Constipation relief. Bariatric procedures alter or affect how your body digests food. Constipation is a possible side effect while you acclimate to these changes. While you can take fiber supplements or make dietary adjustments to alleviate constipation, your body needs adequate water to process food.
  4. Improved complexion. Air pollution, stress, or cosmetics can all create skin problems, and you can add dehydration to that list. Drinking enough water improves your skin’s elasticity, which means it’s less likely to crack. Cracks due to dehydration cause irritation and blemishes. While water can’t replace your skincare routine, it can make a notable difference in your skin’s appearance.
  5. Improved muscle strength and function. Regular exercise is critical for successful long term weight loss after bariatric surgery. However, muscle cramps can stop you in your tracks and dissuade you from committing to your workouts. One of the leading causes of muscle cramping is dehydration. Staying hydrated before and during your workout can prevent cramps, which will allow your muscles to function properly and improve in strength.

Staying hydrated is essential after bariatric surgery, and you will need to make a conscious effort to drink enough water throughout the day. If you need a boost of flavor, you can try adding lemon slices or infusing your water with fruit. Your doctor will give you specific advice on your dietary and hydration needs prior to your surgery, as well as answer any questions you may have. Contact us to learn more about bariatric surgery to achieve your weight loss goals.


3 Questions You May Have After Bariatric Surgery

You’re likely to have many questions for your doctor before surgery. Even so, you’ll likely develop new questions as you progress through your recovery. Some of the most common questions revolve around food, exercise, and recovery time. While your questions may seem like they have simple answers, that isn’t always the case. The following are some common questions that arise after bariatric surgery.

When Can I Drink Coffee Again?

The quick answer is at least 30 days, but it’s more complicated than that in practice. Caffeine is problematic for post-op bariatric patients as it can reduce nutrient absorption. Bariatric patients consume fewer nutrients through food as is, so it’s best to avoid anything that reduces this further. Caffeine is also dehydrating. Given that insufficient hydration is the most common reason for rehospitalization after surgery, it’s best to avoid caffeine during the first month post-op.

After 30 days, you will still need to be cautious when it comes to coffee. Most commercial coffee options are a poor choice for bariatric patients. They’re often packed with sugar, fat, and excessive calories. Some smart swaps for a healthier coffee include:

  • Using low-fat or non-fat creamer
  • Using skim milk or almond milk
  • Ordering a smaller size
  • Skipping the whipped topping and syrups

When Can I Go to the Gym?

Your doctor will likely tell you to exercise in the weeks leading up to your surgery. If you’re used to hitting the gym or working out at home, you’ll likely feel the itch to jump back into it after surgery. Of course, overdoing it is a significant concern while your incisions and body are still healing.

You should limit your exercise to walking the first month after bariatric surgery. The eventual goal should be 30 minutes of walking without stopping, but you can start in increments and build up your stamina.

Most doctors will green light going to the gym two to three months after surgery. However, stick with cardio machines at this stage, as lifting weights may cause injuries. The elliptical, stationary bike, and water aerobics (assuming your incisions are healed) are good options as they are low impact. Using a variety of machines can help prevent boredom as well.

You can begin light resistance training around four to six months after surgery. You will want to start slow and use low weights to build up your strength. You will also want to pay attention to the changes happening to your body, as weight loss can affect your balance and coordination.

You’ll be able to perform all regular weight training and cardio by 6-12 months post-op. Focus on increasing frequency before increasing intensity. As your strength and stamina improve, you’ll be able to push your body a little harder. After a year, you can increase the intensity for better strength gains. You’ll also be able to incorporate core exercises so long as your surgeon approves them.

What Can I Have for Snacks?

Diet is a huge component to weight loss success after bariatric surgery. As many bariatric recipes cater to meals, it can be challenging to find easy snack options. Some healthy snack ideas include:

  • Hummus with carrot sticks
  • Peanut butter with celery sticks
  • Low-calorie protein chips
  • Low fat cottage cheese or Greek yogurt with fruit
  • Deli meat roll-ups (you can add ingredients to the rolls for more flavor, such as thinly sliced apples or a bit of cheese)
  • Popcorn (with some caveats)

Popcorn is a tricky snack as it can be a low-calorie option, but most people don’t eat it that way. Butter, powdered cheese, and other toppings can quickly transform popcorn into a poor snack choice. Another thing to keep in mind is that popcorn expands in the stomach, which can lead to dumping syndrome. To avoid this, opt for a single serving, pre-packaged bag of popcorn without high-fat toppings.

Some snacks to avoid include:

  • Chips
  • Baked goods (i.e., donuts, muffins, cookies, etc.)
  • Sugary breakfast cereals
  • Poptarts and other sugary pastries
  • Spicy foods
  • Fried foods

A good rule of thumb when making diet and exercise choices is to ask yourself if it will help or hinder your long-term success. Bariatric surgery isn’t an overnight solution for weight loss, and it requires you to commit to a healthy lifestyle. For more information about the health benefits of bariatric surgery, contact us.


6 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight After Bariatric Surgery

The primary goal of bariatric surgery is significant weight loss to improve your health. However, a persistent myth that you’ll lose a substantial amount of weight immediately after surgery gives bariatric patients unrealistic expectations. While it’s true that bariatric surgery expedites weight loss, it still happens at a gradual and safe rate. Most patients lose 1-2 pounds per week. However, if you’re not losing weight at all, one of the following issues could be the culprit:

  1. You just had the surgery. Many patients begin losing weight immediately after surgery. However, some may not experience any weight loss for several weeks. You may retain water, and you will likely find it challenging to move around during the first couple of weeks following surgery. These issues resolve with time, and then weight loss begins in earnest.
  2. You’re eating too much. Your doctor will discuss your new dietary regimen for weight loss success. If you’re not tracking your calories or deviate from your diet frequently, you’re likely eating too many calories. Downloading a food diary app and following portion sizes can help you stick to your calorie goal.
  3. You’re indulging too often. While bariatric surgery doesn’t mean a lifetime of salads, you will have to curb unhealthy eating habits. Sugary foods are empty calories as they lack adequate nutrition. They also trigger cravings for more sugar, which will show up on the scale if you eat sweets too often.
  4. You’re not minding your beverages. Hydration is a critical component to weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Your primary source of hydration should be water rather than sugary sports drinks. Soda is also a poor choice as it doesn’t contribute to hydration, it’s high in sugar, and the carbonation may upset your stomach. If plain water bores you, you can infuse it with citrus or other fruit flavors.
  5. You’re not taking your vitamins. Consuming adequate nutrients after bariatric surgery is challenging, which is why your surgeon will recommend a multivitamin and supplements. If you forget to take your vitamins, your body may take longer to heal. You may also feel tired and weak. Without proper nutrition, you will struggle to lose weight.
  6. You’re not working out. You may have struggled to workout before bariatric surgery due to joint pain. However, you will find it’s much easier to be active as you begin to lose weight. Regular exercise is essential to long-term weight loss success. You will lose some weight initially due to dietary changes, but you will still need to exercise to continue and maintain your weight loss. You should start slow and aim to increase your exercise duration to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. For the best weight loss results, your eventual goal should be 60 minutes a day, five days a week.

Calorie intake and exercise are the primary factors that will influence your weight loss after bariatric surgery. However, several other things can affect the number on the scale as well. If you’re not losing weight after bariatric surgery, your dietary habits or lifestyle may be a contributing factor. To learn more about weight loss surgery, contact us.


What is The Wrap? 5 Advantages of Gastric Plication

The Wrap is one of the latest innovations in weight loss surgery. This laparoscopic procedure is significantly less invasive than other bariatric procedures. The Wrap uses a technique known as gastric plication to reduce the size of your stomach dramatically. This decreases the amount of food your stomach can contain, improves satiety, and expedites weight loss.

What is Gastric Plication?

Individuals struggling with obesity have several factors working against them when it comes to weight loss. Hormones trigger cravings and drive them to seek out food. This problem with achieving satiety makes dieting a much more complex challenge than it seems at face value. Obesity can also make exercise a struggle due to the strain on the individuals’ joints.

Gastric plication is a type of bariatric, or weight loss surgery that reduces the stomach’s size. Bariatric procedures like gastric plication help address these issues by reducing the stomach size. Unlike other bariatric procedures, gastric plication doesn’t involve cutting the stomach or rerouting the intestines. Surgeons make minuscule incisions and use the latest laparoscopic techniques to create folds in the stomach to reduce its size.

While gastric plication is a comparatively new procedure, this latest approach to weight loss surgery is effective. A four-year study examined 202 gastric plication patients and monitored their weight loss. The study found patients had lost 57.84% of their excess weight one year after their procedure. At four years post-op, this increased to 68%.

What are the Advantages of Gastric Plication?

Gastric plication has several advantages over other kinds of weight-loss procedures. The top advantages include:

  1. It’s a less invasive procedure. Gastric plication procedures like The Wrap don’t involve cutting into or permanently altering your stomach and digestive system. Because it’s less invasive, your recovery time is shorter, and you can resume your normal activities faster. It’s also reversible in the future, which isn’t possible with more invasive bariatric procedures.
  2. It doesn’t require foreign devices or implants. Gastric banding is a popular bariatric procedure, but it comes with potential risks. Band erosion, band infection, band rejection, and band slipping may occur. Gastric banding devices may require adjusting as well. Gastric plication procedures like The Wrap don’t involve implanting any devices, so you don’t have to worry about these issues.
  3. It doesn’t disturb the digestive system. Many bariatric procedures alter or restrict the digestive tract, which can cause issues with absorbing enough vitamins from food. While your surgeon will make supplement and vitamin recommendations, this problem is less prevalent with gastric plication as it doesn’t cut into or reroute parts of your digestive system.
  4. It allows for a wider range of food than other bariatric procedures. Following bariatric surgery, your diet will change significantly. While the same general dietary rules hold true for gastric plication patients as they do for other bariatric patients, the recovery period differs. Because gastric plication is less invasive, recovery is typically much easier on the body. As a result, gastric plication patients can typically tolerate a much larger range of food than other bariatric patients.
  5. It’s available to anyone with a BMI over 30. Most bariatric procedures include a list of qualifiers. Among those is having a BMI over 40 or a BMI over 35 with an obesity-related health problem. Gastric plication procedures like The Wrap are available to anyone with a BMI greater than 30 regardless of other conditions.

If you’re considering bariatric surgery, you may be overwhelmed by all the information and various procedures. You and your surgeon will decide together which bariatric procedure best suits your needs and health goals. To learn more about the benefits of gastric plication surgery for weight loss, contact Dr. Waldrep today.


5 Tips to Prevent Weight Gain After Bariatric Surgery

One of the biggest fears about bariatric surgery is that you may regain some of the weight you lose. While most patients experience dramatic weight loss after bariatric surgery, regaining the weight is a valid concern. Achieving and maintaining optimal weight loss depends on how well you adhere to your bariatric diet. Committing to healthy lifestyle changes is another important factor to sustain weight loss.

The following strategies can help you avoid gaining weight after bariatric surgery:

  1. Focus on the protein. Begin every meal with your protein. Foods high in protein help you feel full for longer. Adequate protein intake is also critical post-surgery to maintain muscle mass. You should aim for around 60g of protein per day, evenly divided between meals.
  2. Make smart food choices. You will have a limited number of calories with your new diet after bariatric surgery. You should make sure that every bite is as nutritious as possible. Some of the best options include lean meats, low-fat dairy, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  3. Make time for meals. You won’t be able to eat as much in one sitting as you used to after bariatric surgery. To ensure you receive adequate nutrients, you should make time for three to four meals throughout the day. You should practice mindful eating as well, as this will help you avoid overeating.
  4. Look beyond the calories. While reduced calorie intake is a significant part of a bariatric diet, you will also want to scan the rest of the nutrition label. Avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar, as they can contribute to dumping syndrome. Given enough time, these foods can also contribute to post-op weight gain as they offer little nutritional value.
  5. Exercise. Bariatric surgery helps expedite weight loss, but it’s by no means an easy fix. You will still need to commit to lifestyle changes, including being more active. For many bariatric patients, the excess weight made exercise difficult, painful, or impossible. As you begin to lose weight, you will have more workout options. Start with low-impact exercises, such as walking or using the elliptical, and build up your stamina over time. Start with an interval of time that challenges you without overtaxing you. Increase the duration of your workouts steadily until you can perform 150 minutes of exercise per week. For example, 30 minutes of exercise five days per week will achieve this goal.

Foods to Avoid After Bariatric Surgery

The quality of the food you eat can help with long term weight loss success. Food with limited nutritional value can derail weight loss or contribute to weight gain. To prevent this issue, you should avoid the following foods:

  • Candy
  • Ice cream
  • Fried foods
  • Cakes and other sugary baked goods
  • Milkshakes and other high-calorie beverages
  • Soda (the carbonation can cause problems for bariatric patients as well)

A bariatric diet doesn’t need to be boring, and it doesn’t mean a lifetime of only eating salads. You can enjoy flavorful meals by making smart substitutions to reduce fat, sugar, and calories (e.g., swapping sugar for zero-calorie sugar substitutes or swapping mayo for Greek yogurt). You can also enjoy a sweet treat from time to time so long as it’s not a habit and doesn’t upset your stomach.

Losing weight after bariatric surgery and keeping it off requires a commitment to overhauling your diet and exercise habits. Following your doctor’s post-op instructions can help you achieve long term weight loss success. Contact Dr. Waldrep to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.


Is Bariatric Surgery Worth It?

If you struggle with obesity or obesity-related health complications, you may be wondering if bariatric surgery is worth the time and money involved. Researching the subject on the internet can turn up glowing reviews of weight loss surgery, while other results may create confusion, fear, and more questions.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bariatric Surgery

Knowing the facts about bariatric surgery can help address any questions or concerns you may have. The following are some of the most common questions that may arise as you research bariatric procedures:

  1. Am I eligible for weight loss surgery? You may worry that preexisting health issues may preclude you from weight loss surgery, but this is not the case. Most individuals seeking a bariatric procedure suffer from significant health issues due to obesity, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, etc. To qualify for weight loss surgery, you must have a BMI over 40 or a BMI of 35+ and a health condition related to obesity. However, individuals with a BMI over 30 are eligible for a gastric plication procedure like The Wrap.
  2. What are the prerequisites for surgery? After meeting the minimum requirements for weight loss surgery, your surgeon will order several tests, including blood work, an EKG, a chest x-ray, and other tests specific to your health. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to undergo a sleep study for sleep apnea or a psychological evaluation. Your surgeon may recommend that you meet with a nutritionist as well to help you establish healthy eating habits prior to surgery.
  3. What are my options for weight loss surgery? The most common weight loss procedures include gastric bypass surgery, laparoscopic banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and gastric plication. Gastric bypass surgery separates the stomach into two sections, leaving a small portion for food consumption. Laparoscopic banding involves placing a band around the stomach to reduce how much food you can consume. Sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve) removes a significant portion of the stomach to create a smaller, sleeve-shaped stomach. Gastric plication involves creating large folds in the existing stomach to reduce its size.
  4. Which weight loss surgery is best for me? You and your surgeon will make this decision during your consultation. All bariatric procedures are laparoscopic surgeries, meaning they use tiny incisions. This reduces recovery time as well as the risk of infection.
  5. How successful is weight loss surgery? Most patients (75-80%) experience long-term weight loss success following bariatric surgery. Long-term studies show that patients can lose 50-60% of their excess weight and keep it off for over a decade. Depending on the procedure, patients can lose 30-50% of their excess weight within six months.
  6. What is recovery like after weight loss surgery? Depending on the procedure, you can expect to stay 2-4 days in the hospital. After that, it typically takes 1-2 weeks to resume driving and to return to work. If your job is physically demanding, it may take up to six weeks before you can return. You’ll also have several post-op appointments in the first year after surgery and then one or two appointments a year to monitor your progress, health, and address any concerns.
  7. How much weight will I lose? It’s common to lose 50-100 pounds or more in the first year after bariatric surgery. While it’s possible to lose 2-3 pounds per week, one pound a week is more typical. However, how much you lose and keep off depends on your commitment to making a lifestyle change. You will need to adhere to a special bariatric diet and exercise regularly.
  8. Can I afford bariatric surgery? The price tag associated with weight loss procedures can seem daunting. However, the total cost is often less than purchasing a new car. Additionally, many insurance companies provide coverage for bariatric surgery, so it may cost you a great deal less than you expect. You can reach out to your insurance provider to learn more about your specific policy.

Most patients experience weight loss success after bariatric surgery. Losing weight often resolves obesity-related illnesses as well, which makes the procedure well worth the investment. If you’re struggling to lose weight or are experiencing health issues due to your weight, bariatric surgery may be for you. Contact us to learn more about bariatric surgery for weight loss.

6 Tips to Manage Special Occasions After Bariatric Surgery

If you’re considering a bariatric procedure, you may be wondering about how your day-to-day life will change after surgery. You’ll need to make diet changes, learn new bariatric-friendly meals, make sure you stay hydrated, and figure out when to fit exercise into your agenda. The holiday season and special occasions require even more planning, as they deviate from a typical day and can throw off your schedule.

Holidays and events usually revolve around food, which further complicates the issue. Many people use the holidays as an excuse to overeat, but these indulgences happen more often than many realize. Birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and so on occur with regularity and can slow your weight loss or derail your diet. However, this doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to missing out on festivities. By implementing various strategies, you can enjoy holidays and special occasions while keeping up with your weight loss goals.

The following can help you stick to your bariatric diet while enjoying holidays and celebratory events:

  1. Don’t save your calories. The allure of a large and savory dinner may tempt you to forego breakfast and skimp out on lunch to save calories. However, this can backfire in several ways. If you show up hungry, you’re more likely to eat more than if you’d eaten your regular meals. Your new anatomy has pretty stringent food limitations as well. Consuming more than your new stomach allows can lead to dumping syndrome, vomiting, or stretching out your stomach over time.
  2. Remember the basics. The rules for your new diet don’t change around the holidays or special events. Remember to stick with appropriate portion sizes, start with your protein first, and practice mindful eating. Adhering to the basics can help you track your food intake and notice when you’re full.
  3. Don’t eat while socializing. Mindful eating is difficult if you’re catching up with a family member or chatting with a friend. You’re much more likely to overindulge when you’re not paying attention to how much you’re eating. When you are socializing, keep a glass of water in your hand to help with hydration.
  4. Read the menu in advance. It’s not always possible to know what food options will be available, but it can be a helpful tool if it’s available. You can look for options that suit your new bariatric diet and remove the guesswork of trying to figure it out on the fly. You can also bring your own meals or a dish to share to guarantee that there is an acceptable food option for you.
  5. Stay active. Holidays and celebrations often go hand-in-hand with savory meals and decadent desserts. If your friends and family overindulge, they’re more likely to be interested in doing physical activities with you. Ask if anyone wants to take a walk with you or organize a family group activity to elevate your heart rate. Skipping one workout can lead to scrapping another and eventually cause you to fall out of the habit.
  6. Don’t judge yourself too harshly. No one is perfect. Temptation may get the better of you, or you might allow yourself too many days of indulgence. You haven’t ruined your diet by skipping a workout or eating too many desserts. Remember, it’s just a meal!

Having a plan can help you stick to your bariatric diet while enjoying holidays and special events. The above tips can help you stay committed to achieving your weight loss goals. Contact us to learn more about weight loss surgery.