Exercising after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Most of the people who undergo gastric sleeve surgery to shed excess weight are concerned about when they can start exercising to aid the results. It is a great way to assist your body in weight loss but the importance of the right timing cannot be denied. Let’s discuss what you need to do before the surgery.

Dr Carmen, is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon who assist patients with skin reduction surgery after their successful bariatric surgery. Most Bariatric Surgeons recommend doing mild to moderate exercise for at least 20 minutes a day for a month prior to the surgery. Your exercise routine must include a combination of cardiovascular exercises and resistance training. Working out prior to the surgery will improve your overall fitness, reduce surgical complications and set the stage for quick recovery. After your bariatric surgery is over, let’s look at the right way to exercise post-surgery.

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Exercising After Weight Loss Gastric Sleeve Surgery

You are probably excited to start an exercise routine. While it’s important to maintain great health and physique, you shouldn’t overdo it post-surgery. It can be damaging to incisions and slow down your recovery. Hence, we recommend walking in the initial phases of recovery and avoiding strenuous exercises for the first two months post-surgery. Let’s discuss an in-depth exercise timeline:

Exercise Timeline after Bariatric Surgery

1 Month post Bariatric Surgery

For the first week, start walking around the house. Aim at walking for at least five to ten minutes a day. Gradually increase the duration to fifteen/twenty minutes in the second week. By weeks three and four, aim at walking thirty minutes per day. You don’t have to do it all at once. Break it down into 3, ten minute walks if it gets too tiring.

2-3 Months post Bariatric Surgery

During this time, you can add cardio equipment from the gym. Walking can get pretty boring, very quickly. Use elliptical, stationary bikes and more cardio equipment. It is easier on your body, won’t put pressure on your incision sites and will get you in the routine.

4-6 Months after Bariatric Surgery

You can start adding weights to your workouts. Do resistance training with lighter weights and gradually build your strength up. If something feels extremely difficult, don’t push yourself too hard.

6-12 Months after Bariatric Surgery

Most patients are able to sustain a full strength workout by this time. You can do cardio, core exercises, strength training, stretching, weight lifting, and also play sports. Listen to your body and go with the flow. Most patients are able to do all high-intensity workouts without any complications.

It is important to remember that this is a general timeline. It is important to stick to the customized exercise recommendations given by your surgeon. Your surgeon knows how your body is healing and what it can handle. Hence, stick to the instructions.

Benefits of Exercising After Bariatric Surgery

Here are the top benefits of exercising post gastric sleeve surgery:

  • Exercising increases your cardiovascular endurance.
  • You will have a healthy heart.
  • Your body fat percentage will decrease over time.
  • You will build lean body mass which boosts your metabolism and has several health benefits.
  • It promotes a better mood.
  • Exercising regularly boosts your health and reduces the chances of disease.

Tips for Smooth Recovery after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Here are the top tips that will help you recover faster after gastric sleeve surgery:

  • Follow the diet recommended by your surgeon. If you eat too much, it can lead to nausea and vomiting. If you eat too little, it can cause weakness and fatigue.
  • Take two weeks off from work. This time frame will allow you to rest and heal properly. During this time period, you can walk lightly around the house but refrain from doing any other activities.
  • Follow the exercise timeline given by your surgeon. Do not jump into exercising and lifting weights too soon. Start with walking and gradually build your way up as per the surgeon’s suggestions.
  • Do not skip on the follow-up appointments under any circumstances. It ensures that you are not on the right path in your weight loss journey.
  • Be proactive, educate yourself on the surgery, the lifestyle you need to follow after bariatric surgery. It will allow you to prepare yourself in a better manner.
  • Do not skip on the multivitamins and probiotics recommended by your surgeon. They help boost your health and digestion.
  • Take all the medication given by your surgeon on time.
  • Drink water and keep yourself hydrated at all times.
  • Do not drive for at least two to three weeks after gastric sleeve surgery.  
  • Invest in a good quality abdominal compression garment. Your body will continue to change after the surgery. The right compression garment not only corrects your posture but also improves blood circulation.

Exercise Recommendations after Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Once you are fully healed, these are the three areas you need to focus on; cardio, strength training, and flexibility.

1. Warm ups and Cool downs

This is a vital part of any workout routine especially when you are working out post weight loss surgery. Warming up prior to working out will get your blood flow going, warm up your muscles and get the heart pumping. It helps prevent injuries during workouts. Aim at doing warm-up exercises for at least five to ten minutes per day. You can do walking, jogging, or jumping. Cooling down is as important as the workout. The goal is to lower your heart rate and breathing. You can do a light walk, stretching, yoga to cool down your body. Do not skip these in any of your workout sessions if you wish to maximize the benefits of exercise and prevent injury.

2. Cardio

We all know that cardio is great for getting an energy boost and burn calories. By adding cardio to your exercise routine, you will have a better mood as it released endorphins, deep sleep, and increased energy throughout the day. Moreover, it gets the blood pumping and boosts your metabolism.

You can start walking in your recovery phase. Gradually start using an elliptical, stationary bike, then go for jogs, runs, hiking. You can also join fun dance classes, play sports or any other activity that you enjoy. The key is to get your body moving.

3. Strength Training

Strength training is critical to building lean muscle mass in your body. Not only that, it strengthens your bones, boosts your metabolism, and gives your body a more toned look. You can either go for Pilates or lift weights. Start small, a 2-pound weight is enough to get the journey started. Gradually, increase weights. Alternatively, you can do lunges, squats, sit-ups, crunches with weights. Doing a fifteen-minute strength training workout daily or every other day will build up your strength.  

4. Flexibility

If you don’t want to injure yourself, flexibility is of critical importance. Do yoga, simple stretches before and after your workouts to avoid sore and stiff muscles. Be gentle with yourself and don’t push too hard. You will slowly start to become more and more flexible. Start with a five-minute simple stretch and slowly ease yourself into more advanced forms.

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FAQS about Exercising and Weight Loss Surgery

How long do I need to stay in the hospital after weight loss surgery?

  • Most patients stay one or two days in hospital to ensure the surgery was successful.

When can I go back to work after weight loss surgery?

  • You can go back to work two weeks after the surgery provided that your job is not physically demanding. It is always a good idea to discuss with your surgeon when is the right time to return to work.

How bad is the pain after weight loss surgery?

  • Your prescribed medication includes pain killers which should mean you will not feel any pain post-surgery. You might experience a bit of discomfort and stiffness.

When can I start exercising again after weight loss surgery?

  • You can start walking almost immediately after the surgery. However, you will be required to wait for a couple of months before you can resume your workout routine. Generally, your surgeon will tell you when the right time to work out is.

When can I start lifting weights after the weight loss surgery?

  • About four months after the surgery, you can start adding weights to your exercise routine. It is best to start slow and gradually increase the weights. Make sure to warm up your body before lifting weights and cool down at the end.

Do I need to take vitamins and minerals after weight loss surgery?

  • Yes, you need to take multivitamins, probiotics and minerals after weight loss surgery if you wish to lead a healthy lifestyle. They are important for keeping your body healthy.

Which exercises can I do immediately after the surgery?

  • You can do light walking immediately after the surgery. In the first month, walk for only five to ten minutes per day. Gradually increase the duration for up to thirty/forty-five minutes over the next three months.

What kind of foods can I eat after the weight loss surgery?

  • Your surgeon will give you a complete diet plan to follow after the surgery. Here is a general overview:
    • During the first week, you will be on a liquid only diet.
    • By the end of the second week, you can introduce purees.
    • During weeks three and four, eat soft, easy to digest foods.
    • After this, you can eat normally. Try eating healthy though.

How much water should I drink post weight loss surgery?

  • Aim at drinking about 64 to 96 ounces of water per day.

When will my incisions heal post-surgery?

  • It generally takes about two to three weeks for your stomach incisions to heal completely. And it will take about six to eight for your staple line to heal.

Does smoking affect my weight loss surgery and recovery?

  • Yes, smoking can affect your recovery. That is why your surgeon asks patients to quit smoking a few weeks prior to the weight loss surgery.

What are some long term benefits of getting bariatric gastric sleeve surgery?

  • Apart from losing weight, bariatric surgery can help improve the following conditions; high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, knee pain, body pain, hip pain, and urinary incontinence.

Can I eat solid foods immediately after the surgery?

  • No, you cannot eat solid foods immediately after the surgery. You will be on a diet of liquids for the first week or two.

How should I sleep after weight loss surgery?

  • You cannot sleep on your side or stomach for at least three weeks after the surgery. Sleep on your back in a semi-sitting position. Simply stack a pillow underneath your head and shoulders.

How long after bariatric surgery will I be able to see results?

  • For most patients, the complete results show in about one year after the surgery. However, most patients are able to see a dramatic difference in their bodies one month after the surgery.

What happens if I start working out too soon after the surgery?

  • You can disrupt your recovery, put stress on your incisions and end up doing more harm than good. Hence, stick with the surgeon’s exercise guidelines and assist your body with recovery.

When will I feel normal after the surgery?

  • You can expect to feel normal in about three to five weeks after the surgery.

How long is the recovery after weight loss surgery?

  • Most patients recover in about a month after the surgery, however each patient is different and heals at a different pace.

How much weight can I expect to lose after getting weight loss surgery?

  • The weight loss is different for different individuals. On average, patients lose anywhere between five to fifteen pounds within the first three months of the surgery.

What should I wear post weight loss surgery?

  • You can wear an abdominal compression garment along with some comfortable clothes that are easy to take on and off.

Dr Carmen Munteanu – Specialist Plastic Surgeon

She is one of Melbourne’s most experienced and sought-after female Plastic Surgeons who offers aesthetic breast surgery and body contouring. That includes Breast Reduction, Breast Lift, Breast Implant Surgery and Body Surgery.

With over 25 years of surgical experience in Plastic Surgery, Dr Carmen firmly believes that a good surgeon is first a good doctor. She will always take into consideration all the health aspects and personal circumstances of each patient.

A dedicated Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon, Dr Carmen is renowned for providing exceptional care, support and helping achieve realistic goals for her patients.

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What to do next

Conduct Research:

Get a Medical Referral before your consultation with Dr Carmen

  • A GP referral is now essential to see Dr Carmen for any type of surgery.

Making The Most Of Your Consultation

  • Please arrive slightly early for your in-person consultation with Dr Carmen – Car parking is available on-site in Mitcham.
  • You are welcome to bring a friend or relative to help consider the information and discuss your options.
  • Please be aware you may need to undress for a physical exam so wear simple clothes.
  • Photos will be taken as part of your consultation, please try and wear black underwear.
  • Ensure you also take a lot of notes during the consultation and thoroughly examine all the documents provided.

Want more information before scheduling your consultation?

How to Book your Consultation with Dr Carmen

  • You can book your consultation with Dr Carmen Munteanu by paying the $300 cosmetic consultation fee in advance – when you make your appointment.

‘Your Goal is my Priority’
– Dr Carmen Munteanu

M.D. FRACS(Plas) Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon

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Call 1300 652 468 to arrange your consultation or email us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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