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Dr. David Kim Kim Bariatric Institute

Benefits of a Pre-Op Diet

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Since many of our patients here at DFW Bariatric Institute tell us that they are “stress-eaters,” it can be difficult for them to imagine the notion of undertaking a liquid diet before their weight loss surgery – a time when most individuals would feel stressful and anxious. However, our surgeons typically recommend a pre-operative liquid diet in most cases, and some of the reasons why are highlighted in an article on the popular online resource known as ObesityHelp.

In an article entitled, “Why Do Bariatric Surgeons Put Patients On a Pre-op Diet?”, a number of important benefits of these regimens are explained. Some of these advantages include:

  • Caloric control via a liquid diet can improve control of blood sugar. This can be particularly helpful for the large percentage of our patients who have diabetes. Caloric control can also reduce the chance of infection.
  • The risk of complications can be reduced with a pre-operative liquid diet.
  • The diet can reduce fat in the abdominal cavity and make it easier for our bariatric surgeons to visualize the surgical area. It can also reduce the potential for excessive bleeding.
  • With a pre-op diet, patients will likely be feeling and breathing better. Plus, they may also have easier mobility, which is especially important after surgery in order to reduce the chance of developing a blood clot.
  • A pre-op liquid diet can be helpful in the prevention of stomach motility disorders. If a patient’s stomach empties more slowly than what is typically normal, eating within 48 hours of bariatric surgery can present a health risk, particularly for procedures where the stomach will be stapled. Food particles can increase the chance of leaks occurring along the staple line.
  • Bariatric surgeons have found that weight loss from a liquid diet prior to surgery has allowed the liver to shrink for many patients. An enlarged liver at the time of surgery can prevent an individual from having the procedure until he or she loses weight. Plus, when the liver is smaller, it often makes it less likely that our bariatric surgeon will have to create a hole under the breastbone in order to perform certain procedures in the best way possible. This ultimately can mean less pain during recovery.

Each individual case varies, but many patients will be on a liquid diet for about two weeks prior to surgery and about three weeks after surgery, depending on the type of surgery that is being performed. While this may sound daunting, the period after surgery is actually better for many patients, particularly for those who have had treatments such as gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery since those procedures reduce the hunger hormone, ghrelin. With the reduction in ghrelin, many patients often experience curbed appetites following the surgery and therefore are not quite as bothered by the three-week post-operative liquid diet.

Ultimately, many patients find that the liquid diet stages of weight loss surgery are just an inconvenient, yet fleeting, part of the process. Once you are well on the road to better health after the procedure, you will likely look upon it as a distant memory while you are enjoying your new and healthier life!
Find answers to more frequently asked questions here.

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