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Bariatric Surgery

Lifestyle and Body Changes

What follow-up do I need after bariatric surgery?

You will need to have follow-up for the rest of your life after having bariatric surgery. This includes regular blood work (at least once a year) and getting support for the lifestyle changes you need to make, including:

  • changes to what you eat and how much you eat
  • taking vitamin and mineral supplements
  • taking care of your mental and emotional health
  • being active
  • keeping other healthy habits you developed before surgery

How often will I have follow-up appointments?

You will have follow-up appointments after surgery with your healthcare team to look for any complications and to check your:

  • weight
  • nutrition
  • medicines
  • general health

How often you go for follow-up depends on your needs and where you had surgery. Most people will have follow-up at 2 weeks, 4 to 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months after surgery.

Will I be able to take the medicines I was taking before having bariatric surgery?

Many people find that they need to adjust the dose of their medicines. This is because bariatric surgery may change the way your body uses certain medicines, especially those taken by mouth. Some people may be able to stop taking certain medicines that helped manage their health condition before surgery.

It’s important to talk to your doctor and healthcare team about your medicines before and after surgery, so that changes can be made to meet your needs.

What medicines do I need to avoid after bariatric surgery?

Some medicines are not safe to take after having bariatric surgery, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs include the pain medicines ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). Taking NSAIDs​ after bariatric surgery increases the risk of stomach ulcers and bleeding. Talk to a pharmacist or your healthcare team if you have questions about which medicines are safe for you to take.

What happens to my skin after bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery will help you lose weight. But after a lot of weight loss, you may find that you have loose skin. If you have loose skin, it’s important to keep it clean and dry, especially between skin folds.

Some people find it helpful to use certain types of clothing to support loose skin. This includes bicycle shorts or body shapers made out of breathable fabric. Other people may choose to have loose skin removed by surgery. Surgery to remove loose skin is not always covered by Alberta Health Care Insurance so you may need to pay for this surgery yourself. Talk to your healthcare team about resources and ways to manage loose skin if it becomes a challenge for you.

What happens if I start gaining weight after bariatric surgery?

Bariatric surgery is a treatment but not a cure for obesity. Some people regain some of their weight around 2 to 5 years after surgery.

If you start to gain weight after bariatric surgery, you may need to follow up with your healthcare team. You may also find it helpful to think about the tools and strategies that worked for you in the past to help you manage your weight.

What physical activity can I do after bariatric surgery?

An important part of a having a healthy lifestyle is to move every day. Find activities that you enjoy and look for resources in your community to help you get active in a way that works for you. Talk to your healthcare team about physical activity and what activities you can do after bariatric surgery.

How will I feel about changes to my body?

Many people who have bariatric surgery are happy with the changes to their body. But some people may find the changes to their body are harder to adjust to than they expected. There is a mental health team at the clinic whenever you need support. Talk to your healthcare team if you have feelings of sadness, anxiety, disappointment, or other feelings that you didn’t think would happen after surgery.

I am an emotional eater and eat when I’m stressed. How do I cope with this after bariatric surgery?

If you use food to cope with stress or emotions, it’s important to learn new skills to help you manage these feelings before you have bariatric surgery. You may not be able to eat some foods that you used for comfort before surgery or eat as much of these foods as you could before. You may find it helpful to:

When can I get pregnant after having bariatric surgery?

Women should wait about 12 to 24 months after having bariatric surgery before trying to get pregnant. This is because losing weight quickly, not eating enough, and having low levels of certain vitamins and nutrients can be harmful to the mother and growing baby.

Women should also know that birth control taken by mouth may not work as well after bariatric surgery. You may need to find other types of birth control. Talk to your healthcare team about birth control options to prevent a pregnancy after having bariatric surgery or your wishes to get pregnant after surgery.

Can I smoke or vape after bariatric surgery?

It’s best not to smoke or vape any substance after surgery. This includes tobacco, tobacco-like products, and cannabis. These products can have a bad effect on your heart and lungs. Smoking after bariatric surgery can also cause stomach ulcers.

Visit AlbertaQuits​ for more information about staying smoke-free.

Can I use edible cannabis after bariatric surgery?

There is not enough research to say if using cannabis in foods or drinks is safe. Talk to your healthcare team if you want to use cannabis products after having bariatric surgery.​​​

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