Blog - Surgery News and Information


Sleep After Bariatric Surgery: What to Expect

Posted on 09/25/2018 at 10:30 AM

Photo of a black and white alarm clock.



Depending on your health pre-surgery, you may or may not have had trouble sleeping due to your weight. Not only do things like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome affect your sleep because of your weight, your sleep schedule might have even contributed to your weight gain in the first place! This article will give you some insight into what you can expect post-surgery, and how to manipulate your sleep schedule to ensure you don’t start habits of weight gain, post-surgery!


Much like nearly any other surgery, you may experience a disrupted sleep schedule. We encourage you to refrain from taking sleeping pills. Instead, push through the first few weeks, as there is restful sleep ahead. Besides the risk of recovery side affects like bloody stools, bloody wound discharge, nausea, discomfort, ulcers, and purch outlet stenosis, there are far too many risks and side-effects of taking sleeping pills.

Much like its reaction to alcohol, your body’s tolerance for mood-altering drugs is not what it used to be. Especially when your diet consists solely of liquids. Additionally, it will be incredibly hard to wean yourself off of the pills once you have the potential to naturally develop a healthy sleeping pattern.


Unfortunately, your sleeping habits have more than likely been unhealthy for quite some time. Below are some pointers we can offer to help you immediately after your surgery:

  • If you feel like you need to nap, then nap, and do so deliberately. Don’t distract yourself with background noise like the television. Find a quiet space and get some restful sleep. 

    • Try to keep your naps to the minimum possible time for the maximum rest. The goal is to give your body what it needs without disrupting your sleep schedule for that night.

  • Be patient with yourself. You will more than likely be sleep deprived and stressed about a multitude of different things, so don’t make this one of them. Sleep when you can and when you need to. 

    • Listen to your body. You may need to completely reset your sleeping schedule by staying awake all night and going to bed at an appropriate time the next day.

  • If you cannot sleep, do not stay in bed. You can get up and walk around (we actually encourage you to do so!). We do recommend that you avoid television. This may seem redundant but there are studies that show a direct correlation to people who watch television to fall asleep and end up experiencing the opposite effect. 

    • Instead, do something that bores you. Whether that is reading an encyclopedia or counting random objects, your goal is to literally bore yourself to sleep.


Not getting enough sleep can directly affect how hungry you feel and can impact how your body processes the fuel you feed it. Your ability to feel full will diminish, creating the perfect storm for a feedback loop of weight gain. You will be low on energy and reach for the “easier” foods which are, more often than not, the less healthy option. Pre-surgery, this would have resulted in a few additional pounds due to the sheer fact that you had already entered this vicious cycle. 

We want to avoid these cycles completely post-procedure. Staying close to the diet provided after surgery can strongly help you keep the weight off:


This gastric bypass diet will allow your new stomach to rest to that your staple line can heal properly. 


Pureed foods should be well blended to a milkshake, pudding, or baby food consistency. You will have several small (1/4 cup) pureed meals each day. It is important to take your time with meals and eat slowly. 


Soft foods should include only cooked fruits and vegetables and tender cuts of meats. 


Even though you won't be able to eat as much food after surgery, making poor food choices and being inactive will make you less successful with your weight loss. 


Protein is an important nutrient for everyone, but it becomes even more important after weight-loss surgery when your calories are very low. 

Your Health Matters

We want you to feel healthy so you can get you back to a vibrant, enjoyable, healthy lifestyle as soon as possible. In order to do that, you need to rest appropriately. If you experience severe insomnia or pain to the point where you can’t sleep, please contact your doctor immediately.

For more information regarding pre or post-surgery resources like your surgery team, weight-loss procedures, FAQ, insurance, complications, regaining weight, diet and exercise, and more, see our Bariatrics page.

The Importance of Following a Meal Plan Post-Surgery

Posted on 08/22/2018 at 10:30 AM

Image of chopped chicken, peppers and broccoli.

Post-Bariatric Meal Plan Importance

To ensure that you get the most out of your bariatric procedure, it is imperative that you follow the post-surgery meal plan to a “t”. We encourage you to contact us should you have any questions as to whether or not you should eat a specific food item at any point during your healing process. We want you to feel comfortable making the right decisions about your food consumption and this article will briefly explain why.

To Heal

The meal plans provided to you by your doctors have been specifically planned for you to secure your healthy recovery. If you choose to eat an unapproved food item, you risk your health. This may sound a tad dramatic, but it is one hundred percent true. Your stomach has gone through some serious trauma and needs to encounter food of the appropriate amounts, textures, and compositions.

To Get Your Nutrients

This goes hand-in-hand with healing. Now more than ever, you must be sure to get your nutrients. Your body is doing its best to heal itself and you should do all you can to assist it in doing so. Keep in mind, the meal plan is specifically meant to get your body what it needs, in the forms that are currently needed. Over time, you will be able to get the same nutrients in a variety of ways, but for now, you should stick to the methods and supplements suggested to you by your doctor.

To Avoid Discomfort

If you eat something outside of your meal plan, especially in the time period immediately after surgery, you will more than likely experience some form of discomfort and/or sickness. This is due to the fact that your stomach is no longer the same, and therefore the food you consume must change as well. We do not want you to feel nauseous because 1.) feeling queasy is never fun and 2.) vomiting could put your body under unnecessary stress, further slowing your healing process.

To Promote Weight Loss

This point goes back to the very beginning and the reason you pursued bariatric surgery in the first place. If you’ve made it this far (through a procedure), we’re sure you’ve heard that this surgery is not a quick fix for permanent weight loss. You can gain the weight back. Especially if you do not follow the post-procedure meal plan.

We want this procedure to be just as successful as you do. If you remember why you are doing this, and keep the above motivators front-of-mind as you heal, you will be well on your way not only to a speedy post-surgery recovery but to a healthy, more enjoyable life.

Depression & Anxiety Post-Bariatric Surgery

Posted on 07/25/2018 at 10:30 AM

Man holding his head.

If you begin to type “depression after...” in the Google search bar, you may notice that one of the most searched phrases attached to that query is “depression after surgery”. There are many factors that lead to a post-surgery mood alteration, especially in a routine-altering case such as a bariatrically-based procedure. 

If you notice that you are experiencing a shift in your overall frame of mind, you are not alone. What may be alarming to you is that the shift may not be a positive one, necessarily. There may be heightened anxiety and, as mentioned before, depressive episodes. We repeat, you are not alone, and we have reason to believe you are not in the wrong to feel these things. If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself or others, we implore you to either call or start an online chat with the national suicide prevention lifeline:

National Suicide Prevention:

phone number: 1.800.273.8255
direct chat link:

You have or will have had, gone through a drastic lifestyle change in an appreciably short span of time. Not to mention, there may be other stressful factors added to the mix. You may be worried about medical bills, recovery, and even feel anxious about how it is you are feeling!

Be Patient

If you feel a bit overwhelmed at any given point during your recovery process, there are ways you can cope. Studies have shown that people typically lose touch with their bodies after gaining a certain amount of weight, so losing significant mass so quickly may elicit a reaction similar to shock. With that shock may come those feelings of being overwhelmed.

Seek Help

Not only do your doctors want you to succeed physically post-surgery, but they also want you to be mentally healthy as well. If you are feeling particularly anxious or low, reach out. Whether you are in contact with your doctor, a counselor, or your loved ones, it is important not to isolate yourself during this period of transition. Overthinking can be just as detrimental to your progress as, let’s say, not following a meal plan or watching what you eat.
This is something you can overcome. It may not be easy, and it will inevitably take some work, but it is possible. You won’t have to feel this way forever. Much like any other side effect associated with a procedure, there is also a chance you won’t experience a mood shift.

We encourage you to not let this deter you from bariatric surgery as it may be necessary for your overall health and well-being. If you would like to learn more about our processes and procedures, contact us here!
To make an appointment with our bariatric therapist, Bridget Baechtel, LISW, who specializes in treating pre- and post-bariatric clients for issues related to coping, mental health, stress, etc. Please feel free to contact her toll-free at 866-613-4323 if you have questions or concerns.

Navigating BBQ Season After Bariatric Surgery

Posted on 06/25/2018 at 10:30 AM

Chicken Kebabs on a grill.

With the summer season comes BBQ’s and gatherings full of tasty, but not always healthy, foods. If you’ve recently undergone bariatric surgery, you know you’ve got to be aware of the food choices you make, but it can feel alienating to attend parties and grill outs when you have to avoid certain foods and beverages. You don’t have to suffer though! Here are some tips to help you stay the path so you don’t cause delays to your recovery progress.

Tip: Choose Skewers over Burgers

While it may be tempting to build your own burger, bread is one of the main foods you should avoid post-bariatric surgery. But have no fear! There are other protein-based alternatives to this BBQ classic. Instead, get creative and experiment with a variety of grilled meat and/or veggie skewers! 

Depending on your recovery timeline, you may want to stick to a meatless variety with a vegetable medley. If you are far enough along in your process, you may be able to try adding lean meats such as chicken, beef cuts, or even lamb!

Tip: Have a Healthy Snack Before You Go

This one is like the “don’t go to the grocery store hungry” rule. If you go hungry, you’re more likely to overeat and/or choose foods that could compromise your progress. Additional tip: survey the foods on the menu before you start filling up your plate, create a game plan, and stick to it! This will be much easier to focus on if you don’t have that little hangry growl disturbing your stomach.

Tip: Avoid Alcohol Completely

At any point in the recovery process, your body is not prepared to handle the carbohydrates and/or sugars in most alcoholic beverages…especially beer. The alcohol will pass directly into your intestines due to your body’s inability to metabolize it. Because of this, you will feel the influence of the alcohol much sooner than you would have prior to your surgery. We recommend that you use extreme caution if you do decide to consume alcohol. Under no circumstance should you drink and drive, during your recovery, you are subject to DUI-level intoxication after just one drink.

Tip: Have Fun and Do What Is Best for You

If you don’t think the menu at the barbecue is going to fit into your weight loss goals or health and dietary restrictions, simply plan to eat around the BBQ. That way, you won’t be miserably hungry and envious of all the other BBQ-goers, and you can focus on having a lovely time with your friends and family! Your discomfort and progress are not worth the risk of a plate of food at a social event. 

Tip: You Can Still Have Dessert…

…you just must be selective as to what you decide to treat yourself with! Going back to the food-on-a-stick route, fruit kebabs are a great option. We can even suggest a yogurt-based fruit dip for an added sweetness! Click here for a recipe that will fit right into your diet.

Hopefully, these tips will help you to enjoy BBQ season without too much stress or worry. We want you to stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy yourself! 

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Posted on 05/30/2018 at 9:46 AM

Man staring at a computer screen.

When dealing with serious mental health conditions, considering all options is necessary. From psychotherapy to increasing exercise, any method that has been shown to alleviate symptoms should offer hope to any that suffer from mental disorders as there are many techniques to try. One such technique is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, or EMDR for short. EDMR is a fairly new technique and many are wondering what it is and if it could help them.

What is EMDR?

EDMR is psychotherapy that was developed to treat those affected by traumatic memories and negative thoughts. The technique was developed in 1989 by psychologist Francine Shapiro. She discovered the method by happenstance one day while walking through a park. She noticed that her own negative thoughts and emotions were reduced as she rhythmically moved her eyes side-to-side. 
Shapiro went on to conduct studies to assess whether her experience was a commonality among others with traumatic memories. Her results reflected positively on her hypothesis; that being that brief sequential reflection on traumatic memories while focusing on an external stimulus (i.e. a light moving side-to-side, hand-clapping, etc.) will desensitize the reflector to that memory and offer them a chance to reprocess its effect on their life.
Word of the effectiveness of the treatment was pervasive and since Shapiro’s discovery and study of EDMR, many larger studies have been conducted with similar findings. As the technique spread, Shapiro founded the EMDR Institute to continue to assess the efficacy of the treatments.

Is it effective?

EMDR has not been without controversy. Critics often note the small size of the studies and some of Shapiro’s initial methods of spreading the technique. However, the EMDR Institutes sites that over 24 randomized studies empirically validate its effectiveness.
Scientific American took a look at EMDR and compared it to standard behavior and cognitive-behavior therapies as well as just talking to a supportive listener. They found that while EMDR is most likely more effective than supportive listening, behavior therapy is still the most. So, what does this mean for EMDR? It really is just another tool in the tool bag for therapists. While behavior therapy is shown to be the most effective for most people, EMDR offers hope for those that have not responded to behavior therapy. Psychotherapists can utilize EMDR to help those struggling to find treatment.
Seeking therapy for mental health can seem like a hopeless endeavor, especially if treatments have not helped in the past. Our mental health team at Surgical Associates of Grinnell is here to help. We want you to feel like the best you, and offer many methods to help those suffering. Read more about our mental health program or contact us today to see how we can help.

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