Hennepin Bariatric Center: Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get from the information class to the day of surgery?

It depends most on how much work you have to do to make the changes in your diet and exercise pattern that will help you get the most from your surgery. It can be as little as two months, but most people need more time than this to get ready.

Hennepin Bariatric Measuring Cup Photo

When can I drink juice and milk after surgery?

NEVER. These drinks have calories and need to be avoided.

Will the pouch stretch?

No. The pouch will empty more quickly over time, but it will not stretch.

Will I have to eat 1/2 cup of food per meal forever?

We strongly recommend that you limit your meals to 1/2 cup. As time goes on, your stomach pouch will begin to empty more quickly, letting you eat larger amounts. Once you have reached your goal, we recommend not eating more than 1/2 to 2 cups per meal for the rest of your life to prevent weight gain.

How long do I have to wait to drink liquids after a meal?

Forty-five minutes or longer. Drinking liquid right after or with your meal will push the food into your intestine quickly. This may cause dumping syndrome, especially in the beginning. Over time your body will adjust and this may go away. However, it can prevent you from feeling full and may lead to weight gain.

How do I plan my meals?

Protein should be a part of each meal to help with wound healing and to reduce your risk of anemia. It also helps you feel full longer. When planning your meals, start with 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of protein. Then add 1/4 cup of a food from one of the other food groups (fruit,vegetable or starch).

Should I use a protein powder?

Hennepin Bariatric Cutting Vegatables Photo

No. The use of protein powders is not necessary. If you include protein in most of your meals, you should not have to worry about a protein deficiency. If you have concerns, discuss them with your doctor or dietitian.

When can I snack?

Snacks are not recommended. Snacking can add extra calories, slow weight loss and lead to weight gain. If you feel the need to have a snack, contact your dietitian.

How long do I have to wait to drink carbonated liquids?

Most people can handle carbonated liquids 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. We recommend not having carbonated liquids before this time, unless you let them go flat. Carbonation may lead to gas build up in the new pouch and cause stomach pain.

Why should I avoid cold liquids after surgery?

Many people have nausea and pain if they drink cold liquids. This happens because of the big difference between the temperature of liquids you are swallowing and the temperature inside your body. Right after surgery, the new pouch is sensitive to this difference in temperature. Over time, most people are able to drink cold beverages with no trouble.

Hennepin Bariatric Man on Exercise Bike Photo

Will I ever be able to drink more than a sip at a time?

Yes, but it may take some time. Be patient and take small steps toward increasing the amount that you drink at one time.

How long should I wait to exercise?

Patients are encouraged to walk daily. Most people are able to return to regular exercise 2 weeks after surgery. Talk to your doctor about when to increase your activity.

When can I return to work?

Most people are able to return to work about 2 weeks after surgery; however, this will vary. Discuss this with your doctor.

Will I have large skin folds?

Your doctor can talk with you about the rapid weight loss you will have and any problems with skin folds that may result.

Will I lose my hair after surgery?

You can expect some hair loss. This is normal and is due to rapid weight loss. This usually happens between 3 and 6 months after surgery and will start to regrow 9-12 months after surgery. There are no additional protein or nutritional requirements during this time. Adequate protein and a consistent meal pattern is important.

What causes nausea, vomiting, bloating and/or heartburn?

    Hennepin Bariatric Man Holding Stomach Photo
  • Eating or drinking too fast
  • Not chewing foods well enough
  • Drinking cold liquids
  • Eating too much
  • Using drinking straws
  • Eating rich or sweet foods
  • Eating gas-producing foods
  • Drinking carbonated liquids

What is "dumping syndrome"?

Dumping Syndrome happens when food is dumped from the stomach into the intestine. You may have nausea, weakness, diarrhea, warmth, a fast heartbeat or cold sweats. To avoid dumping syndrome:

  • Avoid sweets and other sugary foods
  • Avoid high-fat and fried foods
  • Wait at least 45 minutes after meals to drink liquids

What does it mean to have blockage of the stoma?

The surgery will create a new opening (stoma) to release food from the stomach into the intestine. The new opening will be smaller than the original opening and may become blocked with food that has not been chewed well. This may result in vomiting.

What can I do to prevent blockage of the stoma?

  • Chew all food 20 to 30 times or until it feels like mush before swallowing.
  • Foods high in fiber, like raw fruits or vegetables, can cause blockage if they are not chewed well. Beef may also be a problem food.

How can I avoid overeating?

Bariatric Patient with his Family Photo

The purpose of the surgery is to create a smaller stomach. The new pouch cannot hold large amounts of food. Overeating can cause you to throw up. Here are some tips to help prevent this from happening:

  • Eat only 3 small meals each day
  • Measure foods before eating
  • Eat slowly
  • Stop eating as soon as you begin to feel full

What can I do to prevent constipation?

Constipation is common after surgery. This happens especially in the first few months after surgery. Here are some tips to help prevent constipation:

  • Sip on fluids all day long, except during the 45 minutes after meals.
  • Be active every day.
  • After 1 to 2 months, try adding small amounts of fiber (fresh fruits and vegetables, and high-fiber breads and cereals) back into your diet as tolerated.

How often should I see a dietitian?

A dietitian can help you stay focused on your weight loss goals and help you make good food choices. We recommend regular appointments with your dietitian after 1 month, 4 months, 8 months, 1 year, 18 months and annually thereafter. We suggest seeing your dietitian more often if:

  • your rate of weight loss slows or you start gaining weight
  • you are getting near your goal weight
  • you are working on keeping your weight where it is
  • you find yourself going back to old eating habits