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Bariatric Medicine – Behavior Modification after Surgery

Bariatric Medicine – Behavior Modification after Surgery
Co-Editor-in-Chief, Tracy E. Austin, MD
Monday, February 1, 2010 – 07:01 PM

Behavior Modification after Surgery

Bariatric medicine is the study and treatment of obesity. Most people think that bariatric medicine has only to do with surgery that alters a person’s stomach so that he or she can not consume as much food. This is only a part of the treatment concerning bariatric medicine.

The causes and prevention of obesity is one of the main elements of bariatric science. For a person to maintain weight loss and his or her health, that patient will be under the care of a bariatric specialist for the rest of his or her life. Included in this treatment is intense therapy and behavior modification.

Behavior modification can involve numerous facets or treatment. These include:
Physical activity
Active behavior modification

Bariatric treatment is not simply going under the knife and having the stomach stapled or banded. It overwhelmingly involves the emotional elements and the understanding of what is happening with the patient. Before surgery, the patient will go through therapeutic sessions and intensive discussions with the doctor so that the side effects are thoroughly explained and understood. The follow up treatment is also extremely important to follow.

After Surgery Modifications

Most recovery times range from one to three weeks for laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery and two to six weeks after gastric bypass surgery. There are many different habits after surgery that the patient will have to modify.

The patient cannot eat normally after the surgery and will have to take protein supplements and multivitamins to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Immediately after surgery, the patient will be on a liquid diet. This diet may include tea, broth, or electrolyte beverages such as Gatorade.

Patients also have to avoid drinking from a straw or a bottle and should gingerly sip from a cup. Using this method will help the patient to avoid swallowing too much air and avoiding extreme discomfort. Carbonated beverages are also to be avoided. If they aren’t, the carbonation can expand the newly-formed pouch in the stomach.

Staying hydrated is essential. However, a patient can not drink and eat at the same time as the liquid will expand the stomach and not enough food will be eaten and absorbed since the patient will feel too full to eat the correct amount of food to stay healthy. Examples of pureed foods that are accepted for the post-operative diet are:
Protein shakes
Broth only
Blended poultry
Low-fat yogurt or milk
Mashed bananas
After a couple of months, patients can move on towards a more solid diet of pureed substances. Most patients at this point can tolerate approximately 16 to 24 ounces a day.

Dumping Syndrome

If a patient strays from the correct diet and neglects to follow the modifications in his or her diet, then a symptom know as “dumping” can occur. If the patient eats foods that are too sugary or high in fat, or too much artificial sweetener, he or she can experience numerous maladies:
Chest pain

Drinking Alcohol
It is recommended that patients not drink alcohol for at least six months after surgery because it is high in calories, sugar, and low in nutritional value. Not only that, alcohol will actually deplete the body of nutrients.

Doctors do not recommend that female patients get pregnant within a year after surgery because of injury that may be suffered to the mother and thereby injuring the fetus. This means that sexually active females should use some form of birth control for at least one year after surgery.

Pain Medication
Patients will have to avoid medication like NSAIDs (including aspirin and ibuprofen). Instead, patients are safe to take acetaminophen. The doctor should be consulted if the patient is not sure if a pain medication is safe.


It is very important to maintain an exercise regimen after surgery to maintain a healthy weight and decrease weight gain. This exercise begins one to two days after surgery, which may seem odd, but movement of the legs helps to decrease the chances of acquiring deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the legs).

Specific exercise plans will be drawn up by the doctor, which will begin with a low-impact program that will increase over time to more physical challenging exercises.

Lifetime Diet

It will always be important to maintain a very, low-fat and sugar free diet for the rest of a patient’s life. Good foods that doctors recommend are:
Lean meat (chicken, turkey, pork)
Low-fat cottage cheese
Whole grains
Soft pasta

Bariatric surgery requires extreme dedication from the patient undergoing the surgery to be diligent about the pre- and post-surgery instructions. By not following these directions, the person can suffer malnutrition, gain back weight, or worse, suffer from life-threatening internal injuries. For referenced and resourced information, go to instantly schedules nationwide online medical and dental appointments for doctors dentists bariatrician bariatric surgeon nyc. Patient versions of medical & dental articles are library referenced for online publication by co-editors-in-chief Judy J. Johnson DDS and Tracy E. Austin, MD. Dr. Johnson is a member of The New York Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Austin is a member of the A.M.A., American Medical Writers Association and the Association of Health Care Journalists.