Bariatric Surgery Post Care – How to Stay Mentally and Physically Fit

Bariatric Surgery Post Care – How to Stay Mentally and Physically Fit

If you’re thinking about bariatric surgery or have already had bariatric surgery, adopting a physically active and healthy lifestyle along with behavioral change is critical to your long-term success.

Coaching  bariatric surgery clients, I have seen some phenomenal success stories and the successful weight-loss surgery patient has incorporated regular lifestyle coaching and exercise into their daily lives. Lifestyle coaching can complement your weight-loss efforts and in turn, make your journey more enjoyable and shift your thinking so you feel happy about who you see in the mirror.

It takes a Team of Professionals Pre and Post Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is growing more and more common because it is the most effective weight-loss option for people whose obesity poses major health issues. It also alleviates life-threatening problems associated with obesity, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But the surgery itself is risky, and recovery can be challenging, a lifelong commitment to behavioral change is required. It’s important that patients contemplating weight-loss surgery be prepared mentally as well as physically.

The National Institutes of Health convened a consensus panel in 1991, which developed criteria for bariatric surgery that are still used today. The panel encouraged a multidisciplinary approach both to assess patients and to help them through recovery. The experts recommended that patients be evaluated by a team that includes medical, surgical, nutritional, and psychiatric experts. However, the panel did not specify what type of psychological assessments to perform. And no national guidelines on this aspect of the procedure have yet become available.

Psychological Issues Post Surgery

For most patients the most common reasons to have bariatric surgery are to feel better about themselves, lose weight, and improve health markers, thus their post-operative care should complement the mental and physical effects of the surgery. Many patients report enhancement in mood and other facets of psychosocial functioning after weight-loss surgery. The degree to which these psychological improvements are maintained is unknown. Some psychological issues are taken from, the 1991 NIH Consensus Panel to be aware of are as follow:

bariatric surgery the mental struggle
  • Body Image Issues – Several studies have found that people who undergo bariatric surgery feel better about how they look afterward. One team found that 70% of patients had severe body image problems before surgery.
  • Depression and mood disorders – About half of bariatric surgery candidates say they have experienced depression or some other mood disorder at some point in their lives. And one epidemiologic study found that people with a BMI greater than 40 were five times as likely as someone of average weight to have had major depression in the previous year.
  • Anxiety Disorder – Anxiety disorders have been diagnosed in as many as 48% of candidates for bariatric surgery.
  • Suicide – Some research has found higher-than-expected rates of suicide among bariatric surgery patients. Whether any additional risk of suicide is due to a history of depression, the psychological challenges of severe obesity, or perhaps disappointment with the results of bariatric surgery remains unclear.
  • Eating Disorder – About 10% to 25% of people considering bariatric surgery have been diagnosed with binge eating disorder, and about 5% to 20% have night eating syndrome.

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Exercise Post-operative

If there are any postoperative complications, that is physical impairment following bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment with your doctor and follow the doctor’s advice for an exercise program. For the first four weeks after surgery, focus on flexibility exercises, deep breathing and getting back into performing normal daily activities.

Workout start time will vary depending on if the surgery was laparoscopic or “open”, however, it is generally safe to start exercising two weeks after surgery, but it is always best to consult with your doctor before starting any physical exercise. A general rule of thumb; never work your past your pain threshold and listen to your body. Here are some exercise tips for post surgery patients:

  • Gradually incorporate low-intensity aerobic exercise (i.e. walking, biking or swimming).
  • Do not lift any more than 15 lbs for the first 6 weeks.
  • Avoid ab exercises for the 8-12 weeks (allow the incision site to heal properly).


A complete behavioral change is critical to a weight loss patient’s long-term success. Bariatric surgery is a valuable tool for rapid weight loss; however, in two to three years, if an enhanced mindset and physically active lifestyle have not been adopted, the weight will return.

What we have discussed are insurance for long-term weight loss and maximum success. If you can stick to these recommendations, you’ll be at a healthy weight and in good mental and physical condition for years after your bariatric surgery.

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