Children's Hospital Colorado

Life After Bariatric Surgery

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The continuing weight loss journey after surgery

Bariatric surgery is just the first step in a lifelong journey of making healthy choices. We are committed to providing the ongoing support that teens need after bariatric surgery. This may include anything from continuing to meet with a dietitian regularly to seeing a psychologist who can help them cope with the physical and emotional changes that happen after surgery.

Our families discuss life after bariatric surgery

Mona shares the challenges of changing ingrained habits and the positive results she's experienced from the steps she's taken so far.

Realistic expectations after bariatric surgery

Most teens can expect to lose about 28% of their body weight after surgery over time if they commit to the recommended lifestyle changes. These changes include a diet transition program that focuses on protein, learning to eat less at each meal, making healthier choices at each meal, taking vitamins for life and finding ways to stay physically active. These changes help to promote continued weight loss after surgery.

Diet stage Time after surgery Calorie limit Protein goal Meal volume Fluid goal
#1: Sugar-free clear liquids Days 1 and 2 Less than 300 N/A 1 oz every 15 min At least 64 oz daily
#2: Full, high protein liquids Day 3 – 16
(two weeks from discharge)
300 – 500 60 – 90 grams 2 oz every 15 minutes 64 – 80 oz daily
#3: Soft protein foods Weeks 2 and 3 About 500 60 – 90 grams ¼ to ½ cup per meal 64 – 80 oz daily
#4: High protein foods, vegetables and fruits Weeks 4 – 12 500 – 750 60 – 90 grams ½ to 1 cup per meal 64 – 80 oz daily
#5: High protein foods, vegetables, fruits and whole grains Lifelong after week 12 About 1,000 60 – 90 grams or more About 1 cup per meal At least 80 oz daily

How to see lifelong success

  • Commit to lifelong lifestyle changes.

    Ultimately, your teen is solely responsible for making behavior changes that will allow them to be successful at losing weight.

  • Take vitamins and mineral supplements every single day.

  • Keep a food journal.

    Eat three to six small meals each day, focusing on protein first. Documenting this will help your teen determine where they may need more support.

  • Carry a water bottle everywhere.

    Drink plenty of water and sugar-free beverages to stay healthy and hydrated – at least 64 ounces (8 cups) daily.

  • Plan meals and snacks ahead of time.

    Meal prep helps to stay on track with healthy foods.

  • Avoid eating in front of the television or any screen.

  • Exercise for at least 60 minutes each day.

    Choose activities your teen loves to do so it doesn't feel like "work."

  • Identify support people to help keep on track.

  • Find healthy ways to reward your teen for a job well done.

  • Make sure to come to all postoperative visits.

    Our bariatric surgery team will continue to monitor your teen's health and progress.

Download these tips for life after bariatric surgery

Support after bariatric surgery

Having people to support teens on their weight loss journey after bariatric surgery is vital. This is why our multidisciplinary team is there to support teens as they go through the physical and emotional changes that commonly occur after bariatric surgery.

Mona posing at the top of a mountain path she climbed after bariatric surgery
"I know if I didn't have the surgery, I wouldn't be able to do half the things that I'm doing now."
Mona, at the top of the Manitou Incline

Additional bariatric surgery resources

Partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Children's Hospital Colorado partners with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where many of our physicians and care providers serve as faculty.