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Bariatric Surgery Support Services
Bariatric surgery is a lifelong commitment and only one part of a comprehensive weight-loss process. You will only achieve long-term successful results with diligence and proper guidance from a caring team.
UT Southwestern offers a number of support services for bariatric patients, including:
- Free monthly bariatric surgery support group
- Nutrition counseling
Our expert bariatric surgeons also collaborate with subspecialty leaders on the UTSW campus with active practices in a wide variety of fields, including:
Diet and Nutrition Counseling Following Bariatric Surgery
Following bariatric surgery, patients must immediately adhere to a specific post-operative diet and be prepared to follow a special diet for the rest of their lives. A dietitian will provide individualized nutrition therapy as well as lead group sessions, as part of the dietary education and counseling services you will receive before and after your bariatric surgery.
It generally takes six weeks to retrain the stomach to eat. The first two weeks consist of consuming only liquids, and gradually throughout the six-week transition foods are slowly reintroduced to the altered “new” stomach and remaining gastrointestinal system. This process is done under the supervision of a registered dietitian, bariatric physician assistant, bariatric nurse practitioner and bariatric surgeon. Vitamin and minerals will be recommended to each patient to supplement the post-operative diet and some patients may need supplements permanently. A dietitian will continue to work with you to address issues related to the diet plan such as foods that might cause discomfort and to ensure your diet is nutritionally adequate.
Embracing Your 'New Normal'
Our registered dietitian recognizes that each patient is unique. To achieve successful bariatric surgery results, we help determine each patient’s "new normal," the optimal approach based on the individual’s specific situation and preferences, and recommend the right food and beverage choices, vitamins, and supplements.
It is important to remember that bariatric surgery creates a “tool” to help you lose weight but it is ultimately up to you to change your life in order to succeed.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Are you ready to do the work required to successfully begin and maintain a healthy lifestyle?
- Are you ready to change your life?
- Do you have a social support network to help and support you along your journey?
Tips to achieve long-term weight-management success:
- Watch portions – stop eating when you are satisfied.
- Accurately gauge the amount of calories in each meal.
- Sit at the table to eat, and put your fork down between bites.
- Do not skip meals.
- Take marble-sized bites and chew thoroughly.
- Enjoy each bite of food.
- Avoid high-fat and high-sugar foods.
- Do not drink 15 minutes before or 30 minutes after meals.
- Avoid carbonated beverages.
- Take a multivitamin with iron; plus calcium (citrate) and vitamin D daily.
- Lean quality protein first for every meal.
- Eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
- Stay active for a minimum of 30 minutes per day.
- Keep a food and exercise diary.
- Come to clinic and support groups regularly, especially when struggling.
Exercising After Bariatric Surgery
After your bariatric surgery, you can begin a rigorous exercise program to continue to lose weight and avoid regaining it.
We recommend 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, in a week or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity, such as jogging or swimming laps, in a week.
Exercise Leads to Results
In a UT Southwestern Medical Center bariatric surgery study that involved 33 adults, 21 participants were randomly assigned to the exercise program and 12 to the control group. Exercise group members worked out at least five days a week, gradually increasing the number of calories burned from 500 the first week to at least 2,000 calories the final week. All participants received dietary counseling and were told to keep their daily caloric intake between 1,200 and 1,500 calories.
By the end of the 12 weeks, more than half the study participants were able to burn an additional 2,000 calories a week through exercise and 82 percent surpassed the 1,500-calorie mark. While all participants lost an average of 10 pounds, those in the exercise group became more aerobically fit.
Bariatric Support Group
UT Southwestern’s support group meets online the first Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Our groups are held virtually for your convenience. To sign up for our support group, please send an email to BariatricSupportGroup@UTSouthwestern.edu or call 214-645-2900.
The group provides a safe place where patients who have had, or are thinking about having, surgery can get together and help each other cope with the emotional experiences and lifestyle changes that are part of an effective weight-loss program.
Weight management through bariatric surgery is a lifelong process. The goal is not to only lose weight but change your lifestyle to keep your weight off and enjoy a healthy lifestyle. There will be times when you will need support and guidance from those who have walked in your shoes. Share your successes as well as your slumps and help us all to learn together. The support group is facilitated by a bariatric specialist, however, patients are empowered to lead and steer the meeting to the topics most important to them.
Please call 214-645-2900 for more information. We look forward to your participation!