In this episode of the Houston weight loss surgery podcast, Dr. Thomas goes over what life is like after surgery and what you can expect the first 30 days.
David: Hey this is David Dutton from houstonweightloss doctor.com. This is another episode from Houston Weight Loss Podcast. I am on the phone with Dr. Clifton Thomas, Houston’s most respected bariatric surgeon and today we are going to talk about what happens after the surgery. What is it like, what can you expect, you know. What is your life going to be like and we are just going to get his thoughts from talking to people and patients after the surgery and just what people can expect maybe the first thirty days and the first ninety days, that type of thing. Dr. Thomas, are you there?
Dr. Thomas: Hello David.
David: Awesome, Good morning, how are you?
Dr. Thomas: I’m great, how are you?
David: Pretty good. I am always excited. I always learn something on every single call. Last episode we talked about how people actually travel to get weight loss surgery done and I didn’t even know that even existed. It’s interesting, I figured everybody always went local. I am always excited about these podcasts. So as I talked in the introduction, what I want to talk about today, is what happens after the surgery.
The scenario is someone came into your office, they did the consultation, they went through whatever procedure was best for them, and now they have what we call their “new life”. They’ve got their new life now of being skinny, so I want to know what someone can expect say the first thirty days. Now let’s just talk about that. What are some of the things that go on? What are some of the things that people need to know about?
Dr. Thomas: Great David. Before I start talking about what happens the first thirty days, I want to emphasis the part that patients are really looking for and what life is like after surgery. It’s their body changing in lots and lots of ways that they can feel like they can go out and play with their kids and grandkids. They sleep better at night and are getting more oxygen because their sleep apnea is gone, so they wake up feeling more rested and ready to tackle the day. They are able to fit into their clothes and buckle their seat belt and cross their legs and so many things that make your day to day life better.
So that’s really what life is like after surgery, but there is a process and the process starts with the initial phase of just getting over surgery. Because we do these operations laparoscopically, that part is pretty fast. People generally at the end of the first week are feeling one hundred percent more in some ways better because they have already lost some water weight that is uncomfortable. So they do have to go through a phase that takes with gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy and the lap band on their eating. And for the first really month or so it is just really adjusting to the operation .
For the first phase they basically start on liquids and then advance to very soft foods like watered down mashed potatoes and then soft food that requires chewing and then pretty much regular food, but it needs to be moist, chewable food and generally at that point they are somewhere around a month or so after the operation. At that point and soon after that they are going to get to the volume of food that is really where we are going to want them to stay for life, which is generally a child size plate of food- four to six ounces. That amount of food should keep them full and satisfied for about four hours.
What they will notice, the key thing they will notice are the very specific things that change in their day to day life which is just an emotional event for them to fell that and notice it and know that it’s better.
David: Yes, I am so glad that you brought that up. I think about that a lot because it’s like your thoughts and emotions dictate your actions. How long have you been doing these procedures?
Dr. Thomas: I started doing laparoscopic gastric bypass in 2000, so eleven years and then moved into the lap band surgery in Houston in 2002 and started doing the sleeve gastrectomy in 2007. I do a combination of all three, but primarily the gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy these days.
David: OK. That emotional feeling that people get, can you just describe that? I’m talking the response that people are getting in your office. You know you meet with people every day and they have these great success stories. Can you just talk about some of the things they say to you and some of the things they are feeling emotionally?
Dr. Thomas: I do and it’s just incredible fun because I more recently learned that it’s really important to go from some kind of abstract thing like I just feel better, my life is better. So whenever I push a patient, I say I understand that your life is better, but tell me really specifically what’s better and that is when they light up like a Christmas tree.
For example there was a lady in my office yesterday afternoon and her thing was being able to cross both of her legs and put them in a chair and she did it and when she did it she lit up like a Christmas tree. I turned to her husband and I said, “Did you see that”? Did you see how she lit up like that because she can do this thing she couldn’t do before? It’s really amazing to see and experience. To get that lit up emotion you have to get them to say exactly what has changed.
Like one lady said, “I can go to Victoria Secret and buy a bra off the rack” and she just lit up from the fact that she can do that now.
David: Yes that’s cool. That’s the answers. I always tell people when I’m working with them in my own business, don’t give me the surface answer, give me the real world, what are you thinking about in your heart of hearts answer. That’s cool. They want to go to Victoria Secret, they want to cross their legs, they want to walk around their child’s or grandchild’s ball park while they are plating a baseball game or whatever it is and not be out of breath and different things like that.
Dr. Thomas: So unfortunately us doctors like to focus on the medical benefits which really are unparalleled in recent times on how we get people off bottles and bottles of medicine and resolve diabetes and hyper tension and hyperlipidemia and sleep apnea and it goes on and on. But really what the patient likes is being able to go to Victoria Secret and buy a bra off the rack and just feel better.
David: Oh wow, that’s amazing. So what happens, say after the first month, what are some of the things people experience after surgery?
Dr. Thomas: Well, they do experience the emotion of thinking I’m afraid it’s not going to work for me because they will lose weight and it will plateau and lose weight and it’s just the way our bodies are readjusting and it really doesn’t have much to do with what is going on with them.
They do have a lot of self doubt. They tend to get on the scales and weigh a lot and I ask them not to because I think it gives them more bad information than good information because it’s really just reflecting their water balance and not really how they are losing weight.
They should pay more attention to how their clothes fit and change. Things like that. So they are going through those kinds of things and generally they march through the year, again with the gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, it kind of drives you to want to follow all these eating rules that we want patients to follow for long term success. That’s the main thing they need to focus on. Yes I had this operation and it’s nothing more than a tool to help me do what I need to do.
It’s pretty easy right now and I need to establish those habits so they will be with me ten and twenty years from now.
David: That’s good. Dr. Thomas, thank you so much. This has been a phenomenal episode. This is some great stuff and you are doing a lot of great things helping people to shop at Victoria Secret and helping women to cross their legs and a lot of other good stuff. Thank you so much for doing the podcasts for this week. I really appreciate it.
Dr. Thomas: You are welcome.