How to Aid Your Recovery
As bariatric surgery is becoming a more and more common procedure, you might be considering it as a solution to your own obesity. Or maybe you’ve already undergone bariatric surgery in Houston, and you’re still unsure of what changes to make for your new gastric sleeve diet. While weight loss surgery is quite advanced and safe today, it is still a very serious and drastic procedure, and there are certainly still some important things to consider for your recovery.
Regardless of whether you’ve had a gastric bypass, lap band, or a sleeve gastrectomy, the end result will be the same. The size of your stomach will be greatly reduced, leaving you with changed dietary needs. You’ll be eating much smaller amounts of food, due to your now smaller stomach capacity. Additionally, your ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, and nutrients could be reduced for the rest of your lifetime, meaning that it will be more necessary than ever to make sure that you’re eating a proper diet.
This can have serious medical implications, as vitamins and minerals contribute greatly to your overall health, including your metabolism regulation, digestion, and conversion of food to energy. It is vitally important to make sure you eat the right balance of foods, and also to plug any potential gaps in your diet. Your nutrition and eating habits will be the most important factor in maximizing your weight loss and improving your quality of life post-surgery.
The Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, colloquially referred as simply “gastric bypass,” was the most popular weight loss surgery for the longest time in the United States, before recently being supplanted by the sleeve gastrectomy procedure. Gastric bypass remains the standard by which other weight loss surgery procedures are compared against, and is very well understood and established.
The effectiveness of gastric bypass surgery is produced by three mechanisms:
- Restriction: The stomach is divided into a small, upper portion, which is then attached to the small intestine. Due to the greatly reduced stomach size, the amount of food that can be ingested in one meal is sharply limited.
- Malabsorption: The amount of nutrients and calories that the body can absorb from one meal is reduced, decreasing overall calories absorbed.
- Metabolic: The stomach fills faster, and the gut hormones that trigger feelings of fullness are released. This makes a small meal feel much more filling than it otherwise would.
Since the size of the stomach is reduced, and absorption is impaired, you have the dual effect of taking in less food, and then you get even fewer nutrients from the smaller amount. For this reason, careful diet planning and supplementation are necessary, something that must be minded for the rest of your life from here on out.
Eating five to six small meals per day, with protein being the primary macronutrient comprising them, is important. Most people will need to intake approximately sixty to one hundred grams of protein per day, and cut back on carbs and fat accordingly, particularly sugar and simple carbohydrates. Too much intake of sugar can cause “dumping” syndrome, a relatively minor condition caused by food, particularly sugary foods, entering the small intestine too early after eating. Typically, it occurs within fifteen to thirty minutes after a meal, and presents itself with nausea, cramping, diarrhea, and other digestive complaints. Another potential cause is drinking liquids with meals. It will be best to only drink between meals.
More common than the gastric bypass procedure now is the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, or sleeve gastrectomy. In this procedure, the size of the stomach is significantly reduced by the removal of a large portion along the curvature, leaving a sleeve or tube-shaped section of stomach remaining, hence the name sleeve gastrectomy. The sleeve gastrectomy is a primarily restrictive method, it works by limiting the amount of food one can consume, as the stomach will be around eighty percent smaller. This means that the dietary concerns are different than with the original gastric bypass surgery, as the ability to absorb nutrients is more intact. Your Houston weight loss surgeon will help you determine which surgery will work best for your case, whether it’s a gastric bypass or a gastric sleeve.
Vitamins and Deficiencies
A study from the Department of Surgery at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center found up to as many as eighty percent of patients receiving bariatric surgery weren’t getting enough nutrients and vitamins before their surgery. Therefore, after surgery, it is critical to be mindful to avoid compounding the issue and experiencing a deficiency of one or more vitamins, leading to more serious issues. Your weight loss doctor will go over more specific dietary guidelines, but some common vitamins and their deficiencies include:
- Calcium: Calcium is necessary to support bone health and density. A deficiency can lead to damaging long-term effects and conditions, like osteoporosis.
- Iron: Iron is used in the production of red blood cells, and transporting oxygen throughout the body. An iron deficiency can cause anemia, a condition where, since the body isn’t getting enough oxygen, fatigue, and weakness, along with pale skin and hair loss or brittle nails occurs.
- Folic acid: Folic acid, which is a form of B vitamin, is on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Folic acid has many positive health effects, such as decreasing the risk of certain birth defects, lowering the risk of heart disease or stroke, and mood regulation. A deficiency of this can lead to a form of anemia, and also an increased risk of certain types of cancer.
- Protein: Protein is an essential nutrient, and makes up most of our muscles and organs. Not consuming enough protein can lead to muscle deterioration, organ failure, and even death.
- Thiamin: A deficiency of thiamin can permanently affect your memory and thought capabilities. It can also cause you to slip into a coma or even death.
- Vitamin B: Deficiencies can lead to anemia or neurological disorders.
- Vitamin D: Deficiencies can cause liver and kidney disorders, and bone softening.
- Vitamin E: Without enough vitamin E, neurological problems, anemia, and slow wound healing can result. This can be especially bad if diabetes is present as a comorbidity, leading to unhealed ulcers.
- Vitamin K: Without enough vitamin K, osteoporosis and heart disease are at an increased risk, as well as bruising and bleeding more easily.
- Zinc: Low levels of zinc can lead to hair loss and brittle nails.
The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences conducted a study and determined that these are the most common vitamins people experience deficiencies of, after a bariatric surgery. The only effective way to test for and treat these deficiencies is through regular blood tests. Many of these problems caused by not getting enough vitamins can be mistaken for secondary conditions related to the weight loss surgery. It would be particularly beneficial to take all vitamin supplements in the form of chewable tablets if possible, due to the possibility of whole tablets going undigested and being unabsorbed by your new, smaller stomach pouch.
Also of particular help would be a consultation with a dietitian, particularly one with experience in bariatric surgery. An analysis of your pre-surgery eating habits, along with recommendations from a professional, can help you to build a strategy to maximize your success with weight loss, and reduce the risk of complications.
Although weight loss surgery is a life-altering procedure with permanent considerations thereafter, it doesn’t have to be scary or unmanageable. There are a number of excellent clinics performing bariatric surgery. Houston, in particular, has many experienced and attentive doctors who can help you on your journey to a new life. at our clinic at Bariatric care Centers, we have a dedicated full-time Registered dietitian, and Nutritional Blood works are obtained at least twice in the first year, and once yearly thereafter to monitor our patients’ nutritional status and needs, and help treat and prevent nutritional deficiencies.
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