How Important Are My Follow-Up Appointments?
Follow-up appointments after bariatric surgery are a key component of safe and healthy weight loss. Patients need to attend every follow-up appointment and follow their physician’s instructions for diet, exercise, and supplementation. Here’s what patients need to know about follow-up care.
What happens during follow-up appointments?
During the first follow-up appointment — usually within 10 to 14 days after bariatric surgery — patients will receive the necessary care and tools they need to fully recover.
The physician will ask the patient how they are feeling and if they are experiencing any unusual symptoms, such as vomiting, sweats, rapid heartbeat, headache, nausea, lightheadedness, confusion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, constipation, gas, cramps, diarrhea, and overwhelming fatigue. These symptoms could indicate a serious condition that requires medical attention.
During the first follow-up appointment, the physician will examine the surgical incision and check for signs of infection or bleeding. Patients may receive instructions for wound care.
Patients will also need to show their food diary to their physician or dietician. The healthcare practitioner will review the patient’s intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. In addition, the physician will check to make sure the patient is taking the right vitamins to avoid vitamin deficiencies and malnutrition.
After surgery, patients will need to engage in routine exercise to support weight loss, recovery, and overall health. The physician will ask questions about the patient’s exercise regimen and make suggestions for staying active. Walking, light weight lifting, and some cardio are a few great options for gentle and effective exercise.
It’s also important for patients to have a strong circle of support. The encouragement and care of family and friends could make a big difference in the patient’s progress and recovery. The physician will ask questions about the patient’s circle of support and check on their emotional well-being.
Physicians may offer patients the following tips for maintaining mental health post-bariatric surgery:
- Write down feelings about your body. Many patients have underlying emotional reasons that caused their weight gain. Bariatric surgery won’t radically change patients’ thinking about their body, but journaling can help them process their emotions.
- Pursue exercise you enjoy. There are many fun ways to exercise. Aerobics classes at the gym, yoga at the park, and group walks offer ways to connect with others and have a great time staying active.
- Meet with a bariatric psychologist. Some psychologists specialize in counseling patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. Patients can receive vital support and guidance from these professionals.
What if I miss a follow-up appointment?
If a patient is unable to make it to a follow-up appointment, they should call the office to reschedule. After surgery, the patient needs continued medical attention to prevent complications and ensure success. Patients should make follow-up appointments a priority in their schedule.
How many follow-up appointments are necessary?
For the first year after bariatric surgery, patients will need to attend one follow-up appointment approximately every month. After the first year, patients should have annual visits.
The Weight Loss Surgery Institute is here to support patients through the entire process. We welcome any questions patients may have about follow-up care for bariatric surgery.