Columbia Surgical Associates’ Dr. Nicole Spencer answers common questions about weight loss surgery.
By Nicole Spencer, DO, Columbia Surgical Associates
If you’ve been considering weight loss surgery to improve your health, Boone Hospital Center’s weight loss surgery program supports you every step of the way, before, during and after your surgery, to help you meet your goals and lead a healthier lifestyle. Our team of health care experts, including registered dietitians, nurses and physicians, helps you develop and follow a weight loss surgery plan that’s just right for you.
Nicole Spencer, DO, and James Pitt, DO, both with Columbia Surgical Associates, perform laparoscopic and robotic RNY gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy , and adjustable gastric banding at Boone Hospital Center. Below, Dr. Spencer answers some frequently asked questions about weight loss surgery.
How do I know which surgery is the right one for me?
Each patient is unique – the decision on what surgery you have will be made between you and your surgeon based on your goals for surgery, your past medical history, and your past surgical history.
How long will I have to take off work?
It is recommended to take approximately 2 to 3 weeks off after surgery, but that time may be longer or shorter, depending on which surgery you get and what type of job you have. For example, someone with a manual labor job may need more time off than someone with a desk job. The recommended amount of time off work will be decided upon between you and your surgeon.
Will I have excess skin?
There is often a possibility of excess skin after weight loss surgery. This usually depends on each person’s body composition before surgery. Resistance training is the best way to help tighten up loose or excess skin after surgery. If excess skin becomes burdensome to people, they may consult with plastic surgeons about removing it.
Are there certain foods I won’t ever get to eat again? What about sweets or alcohol?
There are often no absolutes in weight loss surgery. Everyone’s journey is about balance. There are no foods that you will never be able to eat, however, there are guidelines and suggestions on how to eat after surgery to help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Certain foods, such as tough meats, simple sugars and soft breads, are typically not tolerated as well after surgery by many people.
Alcohol after surgery is possible in extreme moderation. You will be affected by alcohol more quickly after surgery, and alcohol is empty calories that will not help in your weight loss journey.
How much will I have to eat to feel satisfied after surgery?
We recommend that you eat about 4 to 6 ounces per meal. On average, most people will eat 3 meals a day with maybe a healthy snack in the morning or afternoon.
What is the risk of having surgery?
With the advancements in technology and surgical techniques, the overall risk of weight loss surgery is similar to that of hernia or gallbladder surgery.
Will I have to take vitamins and minerals for the rest of my life?
There is a chance of vitamin deficiencies with any weight loss surgery. Vitamin deficiencies are a potential risk because portion sizes are smaller and, depending on the surgery, your body’s ability to absorb and use certain nutrients may change. Every weight loss surgery patient is advised to supplement with vitamins and minerals for the rest of their life.
What is the liquid diet like?
The liquid diet in the pre-operative period, right before your surgery, consists of clear liquids (that you can see through) and protein shakes. Examples of clear liquids include broths, Jell-O, popsicles and water. The diet often starts 10 days before surgery. Most patients say the first 2 to 3 days of the diet are the worst part, then it gets easier.
What makes weight loss surgery patients most successful?
I believe that a positive attitude and a good support system ultimately are what make weight loss surgery patients most successful. Patients need to understand that surgery is just a tool – it is not a magic wand. This is a lifestyle change and commitment to change for the rest of your life. Patients who understand that surgery is a tool, follow their diet, work out, and surround themselves with others who support their weight loss journey are the most successful. Boone Hospital Center offers a monthly support group, which many of our most successful patients have found helpful. The support group is a great opportunity to meet and talk with other people who are preparing to have or have already undergone their weight loss surgery.
To hear from Wendi, a Columbia Bariatrics patient lost 155 pounds:
Start Your Weight Loss Journey with a Free Seminar
If you’re interested in weight loss surgery or want to learn more about the process, the first step is to attend one of Boone Hospital Center’s weight loss surgery seminars. Every seminar covers the process in detail, including surgical options, how surgical procedures are performed, risks and benefits, advantages and disadvantages, nutritional needs, activity and exercise requirements, and what to expect following surgery. A surgeon and dietitian lead each seminar and are there to answer your questions. In-person seminars are held once a month at Boone Hospital Center. We also provide an online weight loss seminar. To find upcoming seminar dates and to register, visit boone.org/weightloss
If you have questions about the seminar, please call 573.815.3870.
Meet Board Certified Bariatric (Weight-Loss) Surgeons: