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What Life After Gastric Bypass Surgery Is Really Like

Updated on November 25, 2008
Life after gastric bypass isn't the "easy solution" it's often billed as
Life after gastric bypass isn't the "easy solution" it's often billed as

So what is life after gastric bypass surgery really like?

It's become one of the most popular weapons in the war against obesity, with approximately 150,000 people undergoing the procedure every year in the US alone. And hundreds of thousands more are seriously considering it.

And why not? It's billed as a safe, easy solution to a problem that often seems impossible to solve. Morbidly obese people are almost never able to lose all the extra weight they carry. Statistically, the best most can do is to lose 10% of their excess. And 95% of the time, those pounds come right back in almost no time.

Yet with gastric bypass surgery, patients lose an average of 50 - 80% of their excess weight, and generally are able to keep it off.

Those success statistics are all that most of the general public know about the procedure. It's very hard to find honest, objective information on how life changes, for better and for worse, after gastric bypass.

Because make no mistake, your life does change drastically after gastric bypass surgery. Many patients say that having this surgery is just as big of an upheaval as getting married, or bringing home your first baby. And that's before the weight loss even starts.

Everything about your life changes, or is at least impacted in some way. Many of these changes can be unexpected. And that makes them seem bigger and more traumatic than they really are. People who have a better idea of what to expect are usually much better prepared, and often find the post-op period much less stressful.

Your eating habits are the first thing that changes after gastric bypass
Your eating habits are the first thing that changes after gastric bypass

After Gastric Bypass, You Eat Differently

That may sound a bit obvious - it is, after all, part of the reason for having weight loss surgery. But it's hard to comprehend beforehand what those changes will be, and more importantly, how their impact will reverberate through the rest of your life.

You already know that the amount of food you can eat will be drastically limited. In the first few months, you may feel full after only a few bites. Eventually, say a year or 18 months after gastric bypass, you should be able to eat about a cup to a cup-and-a-half of food at any one time.

But you won't be able to eat as much as your mind may want. Nor will you be able to tolerate many of the foods you may crave. What you do eat must be taken in slowly, with very small bites that are chewed, chewed, chewed to oblivion.

You're forced to stick to these "rules" by the very painful consequences that happen if you don't. Un-chewed food hurts. Too much food hurts - and comes right back up. The wrong foods can make you sweaty and nauseous ("dumping syndrome.")

These physical consequences are why some people choose gastric bypass in the first place - they feel they won't have to rely on their own weak will power any more.

Even so, the months after gastric bypass can be extremely frustrating as you are forced to make new habits. In many ways it can feel like an addict learning to live without his favorite drug.

Every relationship will be altered in some way after gastric bypass
Every relationship will be altered in some way after gastric bypass

Your Relationships Change After Gastric Bypass

It's no surprise that your relationship with food will change after gastric bypass. What does catch many people off guard is the way so many of your personal relationships change.

So much of our lives revolve around food. Family dinners, holidays, dates - all of these events are impacted by your altered ability to eat.

But most surprising of all is often the way others begin to change the way they treat you. As you lose weight, and as you process your new relationship with food and the attitudes & habits that got you overweight in the first place, you'll probably start feeling a lot more confident.

People who never noticed you before will suddenly take an interest. People you thought were good friends turn into jealous critics. Some relationships will grow stronger. Others will grow apart or even end.

In particular, gastric bypass affects marriage and romantic relationships. The early weeks after surgery can be quite an emotional roller-coaster. And some spouses or parters can become insecure with a newly-attractive and confident partner. It's said that good relationships are made better, bad ones are made weaker.

But they'll all be affected in some way. It can lead to a strange sense of uneasiness, as if your entire life has been built upon shifting sand. So much changes so fast - your appearance, your habits, your attitudes, your energy level - that the changing relationships can make life feel very unstable.

After gastric bypass you can create a new, healthy you
After gastric bypass you can create a new, healthy you

YOU Will Change After Gastric Bypass

You will change in so many more ways than your appearance. Because it's that change - we often call it "brain surgery" that will make you succeed after gastric bypass.

No matter what you may have heard, success and permanent weight loss aren't automatic. It's up to you to change the habits that got you overweight to start with. To learn to eat healthy foods even when your new system learns to tolerate the unhealthy. To be more active even after the "new" wears off your burst of energy.

Because if you don't, you'll eventually end up right back where you started.

Life is drastically different after gastric bypass. But by being prepared for the changes you can make them that much easier. And the end result can be a new, healthier you - inside and out.

Want to learn more about life after gastric bypass? Visit and learn all about it - the good and the bad - from someone who's living it day by day.


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      Suzy 3 years ago

      I think you need Counselling before and after surgery it should be a must. I've had the op with no real support and now my mental health is suffering badly. I'm depressed and despondent. I may of lost the weight but I ask myself every day was it worth it. I just hope my poor husband sees it through with me.

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      jmb 4 years ago

      My now ex-girl friend had this surgery, we've been split now for 2 months because of it, Yeah when they say you change, You change!! I still worry about her and what her futures going to bring. She wasn't to stable to begin with, She had mental problems and the meds to go with it, I often wonder if this type of surgery shouldn't be evaluated a lot more than it is, I fear that the doctors who decided this surgery may have made a bad decision.

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      dddugspur 5 years ago

      My neice went from a very smart, sweet girl of 17 who had the surgery, to a 24 year old homeless person with drug and alcohol issues. She has a daughter who lives with her grandmother. I am very worried for her, and have been trying to research chemical imbalances caused by the surgery that could cause personality changes. Any ideas?

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      Marissa 5 years ago

      I liked the part in the article that said this surgery will make a good relationship better or ruin a bad relationship. My husband and I have been married 10 years. A year prior to surgery was probably our best year of marriage.... until recently. I can honestly say that we are happier than we have ever been. I am the one that had the surgery. I think if you know what to expect afterwards, mentally, physically, and emotionally, and you're very clear with your partner that the 'life' adjustments are easier to maintain. I understand that people do change and sometimes that ending a marriage is the way to go - but I just thought I'd share a little tid bit about my story. I am almost 3 months post op and have lost 51 lbs. I am constantly getting compliments about how good I'm looking. It feels great, but knowing my husband is by my side means the world to me! Good luck everyone!

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      Sillan 5 years ago

      I am a 16 year old from sweden, and no it is not i who want to do this bypass it is my mother. I am very worried! My mother has diabitis and it is just getting hiegher she is taking a lot of medication but nothing is making her blodsuger slow down. Her doctor reccomends her this bypass. At first i tought it waas a great idea but know i have been reading a lot on the internet and i have not read very nice stuff. I really would like if someone who has done this surgury can comment on this text and tell me everything they went trough. Please it would really help.PLEASE!

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      joe 6 years ago

      True, I'm going through that as I type. My wife wants a separation because she says that the surgery has made her a different person and now wants to live life differently and I'm not in those plans. Any suggestions?

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      DPL 6 years ago

      This is from my personal experience, the surgery will completely change a relationship. The spouse or partner who has the surgery will feel that they need a new life with the new look and will discard there old life and opt for a new one.