Bariatric Journal

How to Prepare for Safe Weight Loss Surgery

In any scheduled an elective procedure, it is always recommended that you familiarize yourself with the aspects you as a patient should take to contribute to both the intraoperative and postoperative evolution processes positively.

Here is some valuable advice to help your experience with weight loss surgery be smooth and confident. What’s very convenient for you put it into practice and have them as the basis for your planning and preparation for weight loss surgery.

Maintain close contact with your bariatric surgeon

Your bariatric surgeon is the person you’ve elected to put your life in their hands. Therefore, maintaining close contact with them either directly or through a hospital patient coordinator serves as the foundation of a successful surgery. Communication with your bariatric group will ultimately yield best results during and after your weight loss surgery and must be significantly considered as you prepare.

Ensuring close contact and also clear communication prevents misunderstandings from affecting your progress.

Thus, it is prudent that you also follow any instructions they issue out to the latter.

Quit smoking before surgery

Smoking has no positive impact on your health, more so, when going into operation. The fact that you have sought out surgery to improve your health and well-being should be reason enough to do away with unhealthy practices like smoking. Take this as a turning point in your life and focus on the surgery as a new lease of life where it is all about health and being healthy.

Moreover, smoking is a huge determinant health factor, and since you’ll be going for an equally crucial surgical procedure, it is wise to include quitting in your plan. If you find it easier said than done, then you can stop it temporarily.

Quit in advance before the surgery to allow the body to reconstruct itself and attempt to restore order and balance of the chaos caused by smoking, especially in your respiratory system. Additionally, it is equally important to refrain from smoking post-op to minimize the risk of developing secondary complications, i.e., lung collapse and lung infections.

Weight Loss Surgery and Alcohol

Alcohol, unlike cigarettes, doesn’t severely impact to require temporal or permanent quitting, unless you are suffering from chronic alcoholism. However, it does share equally, the adverse effects on our health and nutrition. If you consume alcohol sparingly, it is recommended that you stop it at least a week before surgery to prevent stomach related complications.

Post-surgical abstinence is also recommended, with the new nutritional guidelines handed down to you. Alcohol has a bad reputation for preventing absorption of nutrients and even stalls metabolism of food, and this is not ideal if you are following the nutritional guidelines given to you.

You can resume your drinking about three months after surgery when the body functioning has set to normal. However, alcoholic beverages are high in calories, and this can return the weight you struggled hard to lose.

Therefore you must be careful of the amount of alcohol you consume.

Eating before surgery

Depending on which bariatric group you choose for your procedure, what you eat varies. However, they all have a general idea of what to avoid. Every patient scheduled for a weight loss surgery with a significant BMI has to follow a pre-operative diet, usually provided by your surgeon.

On the day before the procedure, it is recommended that you steer clear from slid foods past 8 pm and don’t drink any liquid past midnight.

After your surgery, a proper nutritional guideline will be set for you, high in proteins and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Avoid sugary soft drinks and caffeinated drinks.

Mental and Physical Preparation

Mental preparedness is critical in anything you decide to undertake, more so a huge deal like weight loss surgery. Most bariatric teams will recommend undergoing a pre-op psychological evaluation to ensure there is no contraindication against the procedure. Moreover, this assessment is essential to assess the mental fitness of the patient to handle the implications that come with the procedure.

In essence, the patient should be consciously aware of the pros and cons of the surgery and the emerging risks. It helps if their family members accompany them for support.

The physical preparation is always a hard nut to crack, considering most weight loss surgery patients are there because of poor health and physical limitations which they seek to overcome. However making slight changes to your routine and incorporating periods of exercise before your surgery is often recommended, but not a must. The aim here is to get your body and mind used to be active.

Exercise should be moderate, a simple jog, and stretching exercises, using the stairs, walking over short distances and more simple stuff like that. Exercising develops better lung capacity reducing chances of developing respiratory complications.

Have a Hospital Checklist

This list can be as extensive as you want it to be. It is a suggestion of items to bring with you during your stay in the hospital as you recuperate. If you are traveling from afar, it is necessary that you carry the essential items. A list of suggestion includes, but not limited to:

  • Gas Strips to reduce the intestinal gas accumulation
  • A CPAP machine if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea
  • Oral moisturizer and particular mouth swab sticks
  • Comfortable clothing that is lost, preferably sportswear
  • Comfortable slippers
  • If you are on medication presently and are advised to continue, then bring them all
  • Entertainment stuff like a Laptop, Books, or Magazines to kill your boredom. Hospitals aren’t that fun, so have a form of entertainment; you can even bring your chess board or play scrabbles
  • Clean, bottled drinking water
  • Passport, travel documentation and enough money (if you are a foreigner).
  • Research into the procedure in depth
  • A patient who knows in detail, the details of his/her surgery is well informed and can ask questions relating to the procedure and be at ease. Moreover, they will know the risks associated with the procedure and learn how to address them. Well informed patients not only have a better chance immediately after surgery but also in the long term, since they will have primed their mind with the necessary information.
  • Have your Medical Records Ready

Since you’ll be working together with your surgeon, it is prudent that you provide him/her with all the relevant, relevant medical records about your condition and the need for surgery (usually noted in an official letter drafted by your physician). Providing your surgeon with these bits of information minimizes incidences arising or complications during and after the procedure.

Remember, what you tell your caregiver is protected under the privacy act, therefore don’t hold back with information, speak about the drugs you use and abuse, previous surgeries you’ve had, etc. The information given will determine the course of action the surgeon will take.

At home before surgery

In preparing for weight loss surgery, we must also think of the implications of the operation itself. However, it’s always recommended that you leave your house and have your affairs in order, i.e., pay the bills. The central aspect here is to ensure nothing is worrying you and all you need to focus on is the surgery itself. Moreover, you’ll want to leave your house in a way you can come back to it and rest and recover in the first few weeks after surgery.

Have clean clothes and sheets, ensure you leave your house clean and stock up your pantry with groceries and hydrating and nourishing foods. These will do well to serve your physiological needs after surgery.
Also, have comfortable clothing dotting your wardrobe and in the case of women, choose sports bras over wired bras.

Pre-operative Evaluation before Weight Loss Surgery

As previously mentioned, evaluation before the surgery is critical. The assessment of a patient before surgery is necessary since you’ll both have a general overview and precise notion of each other (surgeon and patient). Moreover, pre-operative evaluation is a huge determinant for a successful surgical procedure. Your surgeon or other experts listed can perform this assessment.

Lean on your loved ones and share your decision, the procedure and its implications too

Due to the nature of weight loss surgery and subsequently, little information relative to it, you may feel reluctant to share the decision of having one with your loved ones, family or friends. It is a personal decision, and if you are an adult, you have the right to keep it private. However, it is not recommended. It would be ideal if, at least one person. The one you can count on in your life knows about your decision to undertake a weight loss surgery.
It is necessary that you have someone to lean on during this process, both the pre-operative and post-operative periods. The process will be more straightforward if the load is shared. Furthermore, he/she can act as your caregiver and remind you to follow the doctor’s orders, plus it will be great knowing you have someone you can count on.

Having someone informed of your decision also helps in making a solid choice, as they will advise you here and there.

Stock up on Groceries for when your return back home

As you prepare yourself for the surgery, don’t also forget to prepare your nutritional guide. Quite often, post-op nutrition is dictated by the doctor, but there are everyday things you can get. For instance groceries, these are high in nutrients and are also easy to digest and suitable for a healing stomach. Also, you can include fluid foods and dietary supplements you will be asked to take in the first few weeks after surgery.
It is recommended that you stock up with enough groceries to last you at least two weeks, post-op.

The following is a general list of what you should have:

  • Powdered flavoring for water that is low in sugar and calories.
  • Whey protein powder to add in food and make protein drinks.
  • Multivitamin or specific supplement vitamins.
  • Creams or soup making broths, for the liquid diet in the first few days
  • High electrolyte fluids
  • Liquid Yogurt (preferably unsweetened)
  • Fat-free and sugar-free puddings
  • Frozen fruit for protein shakes
  • Chicken, Beef, and Vegetables Bouillon
  • Clean, Fresh Water in huge quantities

Things you should remove from your pantry: The following are lists of foods, snacks, sweets, candies, etc., that need to be avoided post-op, from the first few days to even months. Avoid anything hard and most notably, high in carbohydrates and calories, e.g., flour products, carbonated soft drinks, chocolates, fried fast foods like chips, ice cream, sweetened candy, etc. Moreover, you should also avoid red meat, which can be safely eaten months after surgery, but not in the first few weeks.

Post-Op Weight Loss Surgery Complications

Just like with any surgery, weight loss surgery isn’t devoid of complications. Albeit, these difficulties are a rarity. However, it is prudent that we mentioned some of the downsides related to weight loss surgery.
As mentioned earlier, gastric sleeve surgery has fewer risks that can trigger secondary complications, and such cases are rare. However, if any complications arise, the surgeon is sure to handle the matter intricately and efficiently.

Complications after weight loss surgery include:

  • Wound infections
  • Digestive problems
  • Ulcers
  • Bleeding

To be precise, most life-threatening complications tend to occur within the first-week post-op. These complications usually are infections, leaks, and more.

Since you’ll also need constant support, finding support groups is vital to help you with your recovery by ensuring you remain on track post-op. While still on the support, you’ll also require eliciting the services of a local dietician. Changing your diet is part of the recovery process and part of the adjustments in life you’ll have to undertake post-op. A dietician will then help you make an important decision on what you eat and furthermore, act as a support beam to ensure you don’t fall back to poor eating habits.

Severe other health concerns should also not be overlooked like not absorbing nutrients as much like iron and calcium which can lead to anemia and osteoporosis. But this can be countered by taking nutritional supplements and going for regular blood screening tests.

If you have a local physician looking after your progress, they will tell you what to look out for and advise you further on the matter.


As you can tell, there are several things to consider beforehand, and this list isn’t even complete. However, these are the most critical. Our final recommendation is, select a surgeon and the best facility for your bariatric surgery. It should be weighed upon the following factors: the experience and accomplishments of a surgeon, a well-funded facility with additional specialists, expenditure (travel, and accommodation), and the cost of surgery. Just trust your intuition and pick a place you feel safe doing the operation. Despite the choice you make, what matters is your road to health and improved wellness in a post-op life

Bariatric Journal is the leading bariatric surgery resource site for patients. Read information on bariatric procedures, guides, find a surgeon and more.