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Bariatric Surgery To Help People Lose Weight

Bariatric Surgery To Help People Lose Weight (620x930)

Bariatric surgery is a major surgery to help people to lose weight. It adjusts the digestive system to support healthy eating, which is why seeing an experienced bariatric dietitian is very important. The two main bariatric surgeries are sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass with sleeve gastrectomy being the most common bariatric surgery in Australia. It’s a non-reversible surgery where most of the stomach is removed. People who have bariatric surgery to lose weight generally shed kilos for about the first year after the surgery. After this time, it’s important to continue with a healthy diet and exercise to maintain weight loss. Ongoing support from a specialised bariatric dietitian is encouraged.

 Who is bariatric surgery for?

Bariatric surgery is performed in Australia for people with a BMI over 40 or a BMI over 35 plus medical problems such as Type 2 Diabetes (including pre-diabetes), sleep apnoea, osteoarthritis or high blood pressure (plus many other conditions). Bariatric surgery is a very effective treatment option for people carrying a lot of excess weight and with Type 2 Diabetes. Most patients can either eliminate or significantly reduce their diabetes medications after bariatric surgery. 

How does bariatric surgery work? 

Bariatric surgery works not only because of restriction (a much smaller stomach) but also because of hormonal changes in the stomach. There is a reduction in the hunger hormone, ghrelin, and an increase in other hormones which signal you are full. The result is reduced appetite and being satisfied with much smaller meals. The beauty of bariatric surgery is that your body works with you to support you to eat less. While you CAN eat more if your body doesn’t want or need that, why would you?

What is recovery like? 

Most people return home 2 – 3 days after bariatric surgery. Eating after bariatric surgery is very restrictive at first but this is short-term. In the first couple of months, you’ll only be able to eat between ¼ to ½ a cup of food. Therefore, what you eat is very important to ensure you get all the right nutrients.  Make sure you have a bariatric dietitian to support your recovery immediately after the surgery and for the months/years afterwards. 

Your bariatric dietitian will guide you through the different phases as you recover from your bariatric surgery. Firstly fluids then a puree through to a soft diet before resuming a healthy balanced diet.  Working with a bariatric dietitian will ensure you are consuming enough dietary protein and taking suitable multivitamin supplements in this period of little food and rapid weight loss. 

Why do I need a bariatric dietitian? 

An experienced bariatric dietitian is a core member of a bariatric surgery team. One disadvantage of bariatric surgery is that there is a higher risk of micronutrient deficiencies (e.g Iron, B12, Vit D deficiencies). For one, bariatric surgery reduces the size of your meals. Therefore the nutritional quality of your meals after bariatric surgery is VERY important in preventing deficiencies because of these smaller portions. Your bariatric dietitian will help to make sure you are not at risk of deficiencies.

To make things a little more complicated bariatric surgery can alter the digestion of some key vitamins and minerals. Multivitamin supplementation is a lifelong recommendation following bariatric surgery. Your bariatric dietitian can assist with monitoring these nutrient levels long-term. 

Can I regain weight after bariatric surgery? 

Weight regain IS a possibility after bariatric surgery. Working with a bariatric dietitian can assist in ensuring your diet and lifestyle patterns don’t lead to weight regain. Healthy eating is still a very fundamental component of managing your weight at all times (both with and without bariatric surgery).

How do I book to see a bariatric dietitian? 

Bariatric dietitians are a very specialised area of nutrition support. It is vital you are able to find an experienced bariatric dietitian. Our bariatric dietitian, Penny Weigand, works closely with local bariatric surgeons and is very experienced and knowledgeable in this area.  Bookings to see Penny can be made with our friendly reception staff by calling 02 8034 6465 or you can book online if you prefer.

If you’re looking for helpful, evidence-based information about dietetic issues, follow SS Diets on social media (Facebook or Instagram) or subscribe to Nutrition News for a monthly dose delivered to your inbox. You can also check out Dietitians Australia for a heap of great info!