Pathway to Surgery


Preoperative Nutrition

Following surgery, your eating habits will be different. With that in mind, we recommend that you start making modifications to your eating habits NOW.

Make healthy food choices

  • Avoid/limit concentrated sugars and fried foods
  • Keep fat/sugar in the single digits per serving on food labels
  • Practice slowing down and CHEWING your food (aim for 30 chews per bite or until applesauce consistency)
  • Wean yourself from all carbonated beverages (soda)
  • Wean yourself from all sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Practice not drinking with your meals.  Drink water between meals
  • Monitor and aim for at least 64 ounces of fluid per day.  Drink enough water each day so that your urine is light yellow or clear.
  • Practice reducing your portion sizes
  • Practice stopping eating when you are satisfied, before you are full

Benefits of Exercise

The benefits of exercise are many and well documented. Exercise benefits all the systems of the body and is an extremely important part of the new lifestyle in which you are choosing to participate.

Exercise helps to:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Strengthen the heart and circulatory system
  • Strengthen bones and muscles and decrease joint stiffness
  • Lower blood sugar
  • Increase endurance and energy
  • Provide stress relief
  • And most importantly – Help you lose weight and keep it off

Prep for Surgery

Bariatric surgery is like other major surgeries, but then again, it isn’t. The difference is the goals. For most surgeries the goal is to recover so that you can get back to life how it was before surgery. Bariatric surgery is different. The goal is to not necessarily to get back to life how it was. Right? Instead, the goal is to recover and move forward in new and better ways. We find that the more mentally and physically prepared a person is before bariatric surgery, the smoother their journey is after surgery. To do this, the preparation is the key.

To mentally prepare yourself for surgery:

  • Understand the surgical process and what to expect afterwards
  • Watch the EMMI video about your planned surgery
  • Talk to people who have had surgery for weight loss .  Attend a support group meeting – ask questions and receive answers in a supportive environment
  • Help your family members and friends understand why you have chosen weight loss surgery.  Tell them about this website.  It’s important that they understand that morbid obesity is a disease and that diets alone don’t work for you. Let them know your health is at stake and you will be counting on them to help you during and after surgery.

To physically prepare yourself for surgery:

  • These include but are not limited to:
  • Stay on a clear liquid diet 12-24 hours before surgery
  • Stop smoking (including vapes) and chewing tobacco 8 weeks before surgery. Smoking decreases circulation and impairs wound healing increasing your risk of complications.
  • Follow the hospital’s preop clinic instructions about medications you may be taking for other health conditions.
  • If you have obstructive sleep apnea, please bring your mask with you to the hospital. The hospital will supply the machine.

Exercise Before and After Bariatric Surgery

As you know, morbid obesity is a disease with devastating medical, physical, social and psychological effects. The National Institute of Health has determined that weight-loss surgery combined with behavior modification is the most effective long-term solution to morbid obesity. Here we will discuss one component of behavior modification – exercise. Exercise is a very important part of your weight-loss program. It is an important behavior that strongly supports good eating behaviors post surgery.

Before recommending bariatric surgery, we require that each patient make a commitment to improving and maintaining his or her health by fully participating in Central Carolina Surgery’s aftercare program. We consider adherence to the nutrition guidelines and an exercise plan essential to the overall success of every procedure.

Incorporating some form of exercise into your daily life prior to surgery will drastically improve and even speed up the weight loss process following surgery. For instance, walking, cycling, aerobics or swimming can help you feel and look great even before the surgery. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, in addition to your normal daily activities such as working, shopping or housekeeping.

The most important part of your pre and post bariatric surgery exercise routine is to strengthen your heart. When you exercise, your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body. Your muscles need this oxygen-rich blood in order to contract, so a healthy heart will help develop healthy muscles.

Rapid weight loss can cause you to lose both fat and muscle. Since muscle is essential to a healthy metabolism, exercise is the safest and most effective way to maintain lean body mass and improve weight loss. Just like your diet, the goal of your post bariatric surgery exercise is not just to look better but to live better.

The first rule of starting pre or post bariatric surgery exercise is to start slow. Although it is sped up by bariatric surgery, weight loss requires time and effort to be effective. Begin your exercise with low-intensity, low-impact activities and, as you progress, gradually increase the difficulty of the exercise.

Walking is a great way to start; begin with very short walks several times a day and gradually increase the distance or duration. Walking improves muscle tone and cardiovascular fitness in addition to helping you lose weight. Do not, at first, engage in strenuous exercise. We encourage you to set goals for yourself. By all means, if you want to run a marathon someday, go for it; just make sure you start out slowly. About six weeks after surgery, you should be able to tolerate all but the most strenuous of exercises.

Immediately post-surgery don’t sit or stand in one place for a long period of time. Light housekeeping may be undertaken when you feel you are able. Driving a car is usually permitted one week after surgery. Most patients are able to return to light work after two weeks and to heavy labor after six weeks. The time of your return to work will depend upon the physical demands of your job and the rate of your recovery. Talk with your physician before starting anything new.

After you reach a weight you are happy with, you may be tempted to reduce or eliminate exercise from your daily routine. Continuing an exercise program in the months and years following bariatric surgery is an important part of staying healthy and maintaining weight loss results. Maintaining a basic exercise program will keep you looking and feeling good for the years following your surgery. The CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise a day and two or more days of muscle-strengthening a week.

Our preoperative nutrition patients come to us from High Point, Kernersville, Winston-Salem, Burlington, Greensboro and surrounding communities.

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