How to Support a Loved One After Weight Loss Surgery

Hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo obesity surgery every year, and awareness of these procedures is becoming more and more widespread.

Is your loved one considering weight loss surgery?

Hundreds of thousands of Americans undergo obesity surgery every year, and awareness of these procedures is becoming more and more widespread. Just look at the popular TV show “This Is Us,” in which actress Chrissy Metz’s character decides to have weight loss surgery.

As a friend or family member of someone contemplating weight loss surgery, you have an important part to play. Patients need the support of the people closest to them in order to commit to a healthy lifestyle post-surgery.

Here’s how you can support your loved one during this process.

Emotional Support

Making the decision to have obesity surgery and sticking to a diet and exercise regimen after surgery can be emotionally grueling. The single most important thing you can do is to be there for your loved one. Let them know that you are on this journey with them.

You can do that by:

  • Being a cheerleader, not a coach. Don’t nitpick your loved one for their mistakes. Instead, applaud the things he or she is doing right. Even if they miss a weight loss target, show them love and support for trying.
  • Celebrate with your loved one. If your loved one achieves a goal, plan a fun activity to celebrate, such as going to a movie or a concert. Let them know that you’re just as excited about their achievements as they are.
  • Be interested in more than losing weight. Talk about things besides weight loss. Show your interest and concern in your loved one’s life beyond the issue of dieting and weight.
  • Be positive. Don’t judge your loved one for a bad day. Help them to get back on track by focusing on the future, not the past.
  • Support them in their decision about obesity surgery. While weight loss surgery is a choice, it may be the only option to treat severe weight problems. Ask your loved one what they know about the surgery, seek out information together and keep an open mind.
  • Join them at appointments, classes and support groups. If your loved one needs someone to go along with them to meetings with doctors, for example, offer to join them. It can help relieve your loved one’s nervousness. Plus, you can help ask questions and get more information.
  • Be thoughtful about what you say after surgery. It’s important to be sensitive about how your loved one feels after surgery. Try to avoid making comments about weight after surgery. Be careful about how you congratulate your loved one on their progress.

Dietary Support

Diet and exercise are the pillars of weight loss. Even after weight loss surgery, maintaining a good diet is key to keeping weight off and staying healthy. For you, that means supporting your loved one by helping them eat a good diet.

If you live with your loved one, try to get rid of any tempting foods, like chips, cookies and sodas. By removing unhealthy foods and drinks from your home, you’ll make it easier for your loved one to stick to their diet.

You can also help out with meal planning and food prep. Cooking at home is always preferable to eating out because you can keep track of the ingredients in your food and control the amount of oil and salt you use.

On your days off, plan meals for the week ahead with your loved one’s diet guidelines in mind. Prepare your ingredients in advance so they’re easier to cook after a long day of work. For instance, marinate skinless chicken breasts and chop up vegetables ahead of time so your ingredients are ready to go.


The second pillar of weight loss and a post-surgery lifestyle is a regular physical activity.

Participating in exercise is an easy way to support your loved one. Here are some examples of exercise that you can do together.

  • Evening walks. Discussing your day at work? Do it on a nice walk instead of on the couch.
  • Workouts. Whether you’re lifting weights, going to Zumba classes or jogging on the treadmill, it’s always easier to get motivated when you have someone to exercise with.
  • Sports. Get a group of friends together for a weekly game of basketball or volleyball.
  • Home exercises. Even on days when you can’t make time for a full-fledged workout, join your loved one for a shorter home workout with simple jumping jacks, squats and lunges.

For overweight and obese individuals, successful weight loss depends upon the support of the people around them. By supporting your loved one on this journey, you can make weight loss surgery feel less overwhelming.

What happens after obesity surgery?

after obesity surgery

Obesity surgery can change your life. In fact, that’s one of the main purposes of bariatric surgery — to give patients renewed energy, vigor and opportunity. But all of these things take an investment from the patient, as well. Once patients are given a fresh start with obesity surgery, they must make sure to take care of themselves in order to maintain it.

“Weight loss surgery is not just about losing weight,” Dr. Dirk says. “It is about engaging in the life changes needed to become a healthy person.”

So if you’re considering kick-starting your health with weight loss surgery, what do you need to do to ensure success? First and foremost, the patient must eat healthfully and exercise, Dr. Dirk says.

Dr. Dirk makes it easy to eat healthily. He provides a nutrition plan for all his patients to guide them after they leave the operating room. Patients eat five to eight small meals daily — mainly proteins and other nutrient-dense foods.

Because of the way obesity surgery works, patients’ bodies tell them when enough is enough, so small meals make the perfect portions. Patients enjoy eating all types of meat and healthy foods, and are even able to eat dessert — their body stops them once they have enjoyed all they need. Patients can even drink alcohol, although most report they become “cheap dates” when their tolerance goes down with their weight.

As for exercise, Dr. Dirk recommends an hour of aerobic exercise every day. When he follows up with patients after surgery, those who exercise are the first to see their medical conditions, like diabetes or blood pressure, improve.

The exercise program may seem daunting at first, but one of the great parts about obesity surgery is the renewed energy. It will help make the workouts easier and be a great reward for keeping up with your health post-surgery.

“My patients tell me that their fatigue disappears and that they look forward to getting out of bed in the morning,” Dr. Dirk says. “They say they can play with their children, go on walks, walk on the beach and in the park.”

The rewards far outweigh the work, but remember, there is work involved. Obesity surgery is not a cure-all, but it is a great way to reset your body and your life to make way for a better tomorrow.

“This surgery is about you, your health and your life,” Dr. Dirk says. “Once this surgery takes place, you are in charge of your future. Make it a great one!”

What foods should I eat after bariatric surgery?

15667114_mThe dos and don’ts of eating a balanced diet are fairly well-known: lean proteins, nutrient-packed veggies, low-fat dairy products and whole grains help maintain a balanced diet that keeps you trim and gives you the energy you need. From grab-and-go yogurts to single-serving packages of nuts, healthy foods are easy to incorporate into your routine.

But what about those who have recently undergone bariatric surgery? As your body heals from weight loss surgery, a balanced diet becomes more important (and, at first, more overwhelming) than ever. Luckily, with the help of expert advice and a few specially formulated supplements, following your post-op diet will become second nature.

Gastric Bypass

The Gastric bypass procedure reduces the size of your stomach and other parts of the digestive system, making portion control crucial to recovery. Shortly after surgery, you’ll be limited to clear liquids and broths that will ease your digestive system back into its functional role. Sip slowly and drink only 2 to 3 ounces of liquid at a time.

As you begin to tolerate clear liquids, you’ll be able to introduce thicker liquids or pureed foods. How can you meet your dietary requirements for protein, calcium and more? Try options like non-fat yogurt, cottage cheese or protein powders before gradually introducing items like hot cereals, lean ground meats or fish or pureed veggies. As you gradually add more to your diet, remember to keep meal portions small, and eat often throughout the day. Dr. Dirk’s own nutrition store offers a series of post-op calcium kits that ensure you’re getting what you need to keep up your bone density as you recover from surgery.

Gastric Sleeve

What’s life like after gastric sleeve surgery? While the timeframe for your post-operative diet may vary, the general principle behind the foods that you’re advised to eat remains the same as above: begin with clear liquids, and introduce thick liquids or pureed foods slowly. You’ll likely start with clear liquids, and move to liquids plus protein in the form of fat-free yogurt, thin applesauce or strained cream soup. As your body begins to tolerate more and different foods, you’ll begin to add soft vegetables, mashed fruit, scrambled eggs and other items like hummus. Finally, after about four weeks, you can expect to move towards a diet that includes solid foods in small amounts. Dr. Dirk’s post-op calcium kits are recommended for patients recovering form sleeve surgery, as well.

Lap Band

Eating after Lap Band Surgery is not as not as difficult as it seems. Once again, gradual introduction of new foods and tight portion control is the name of the game. A diet of clear liquids will progress to a “full liquid diet,” including protein shakes and soups. Soon, you’ll be working your way up to pureed foods at around two weeks post-op, a stage that will continue until you’ve recovered for about a month.

Finally, it’s on to soft solids (think fish, beans and other nutrient-dense foods), carefully introducing new foods one at a time. Be sure to include your calcium kit, formulated specifically for those recovering from lap-band surgery.

Your new diet may seem overwhelming at first, but if you keep the basic principles in mind, it will begin to make sense. Training your body to eat in smaller portions will become the new norm as you adapt to a healthy lifestyle and maintain an ideal weight.