How should I Eat After Surgery?
You need to pay attention to what you eat and how you eat it during the first three weeks following your lapband surgery. Your diet should be limited mostly to liquids and soft food. The reason for this is that the body needs time to heal and develop tissue around the gastric band or lapband, to maintain the band in its correct position. If you eat solid food too soon after lap-band surgery , you may run the risk of dislocating the band, or developing an enlarged upper gastric pouch. Therefore, it is very important to chew your food well in order to decrease the risk of blockages or dislocation of the band.
How Much Can I Eat?
Right after LapBand surgery the stomach can not hold more than 4 to 6 ounces per meal (3/4 cup). Therefore, one should be particular about the nutritional value of the food with every bite. I have written about the lapband diet since we started doing lapband surgeries seventeen years ago. You can find detailed information on my website: http://www.thebariatric.com/lap-band/postoperative.html
People seem to think that nothing will happen if they “cheat” during the liquid phase and eat solid foods. However, The truth is that solid food may cause increased pressure and may result in lapband dislocation, and the increased pressure over the “New Stomach” or Pouch at this time could be an early cause of lapband slippages. Eating solid foods in the early stages after surgery has also been known to cause enlarged pouches which can occur after a period of time.
I try to tell people that their stomach is moving and churning (inside) while trying to digest solid food. Solid foods are also pushed down to the restricted area and we want to keep the stomach as still as possible for that first week “liquid phase” after lapband surgery. So even though they don’t “feel” like it’s hurting anything, they could be. Let’s reiterate that the purpose of the diet is not for starting weight loss but for healing after the Lapband surgery. This way you will avoid stretching the pouch and it will also help you by letting the sutures become firmly attached and to hold the lapband in the right place.
Which Diet Should I Follow?
I recommend that my patients strictly follow the liquid phase for one week post-operatively. During this time, they can eat clear liquids (water, Gatorade, broth, tea, apple, grape or cranberry juice, fruit popsicles) and full fluids (vegetables juices, cream soups, low-fat milk and yogurt, and pudding). There is no concern about malnutrition or low sugar intake during this time. The diet slowly allows the patient to “graduate” to soft foods in the second and the third week post-op.
There are some foods that should be avoided or limited in order to decrease the risk of irritation or band dislocation. Stomach irritants such as coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages like coke, concentrated orange juice, vinegar, spicy food, etc, maybe cause discomfort or inflammation of the stomach lining, and vomiting might occur which may cause lapband dislocation. Fruits such as oranges or grapefruits should have both the skin and seeds removed before eating them, in order to avoid blockages in the stomach or esophagus. Vegetables such as cucumbers should also be peeled.
Other foods which need to be avoided are high fiber vegetables like celery, sweet potatoes, spicy foods, fried foods, spices (like cinnamon) pepper or soy sauce. If one is unable to tolerate milk, then calcium and protein rich foods such as cottage cheese and dry milk can be added to foods for proper protein intake.
LapBand patients should intake at least fifty to sixty grams of protein every day to avoid protein deficiency, but protein shakes or vitamins are not required. Include adequate sources of protein in your diet such as eggs, low-fat cheese, and fish such as salmon or tuna. Lack of protein causes hair loss, edema, fatigue, muscle weakness, and a delay in wound healing. It also causes depression, anxiety, irritability, apathy, as well as gallstones, colds, headaches, low blood pressure, anemia, irregular heart rates. The amount of protein can be monitored by your doctor with a serum albumin blood test.
For more information, visit: http://www.thebariatric.com/lap-band/postoperative.html
Arturo Rodríguez, MD
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