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What to Expect Before and After Weight Loss Surgery

Our step-by-step program at Virginia Mason Franciscan Health makes it easy to stay on track throughout your weight loss surgery journey. From your first appointment through follow-up care, we provide the ongoing education, guidance and support you need to achieve your goals.

Preparing for bariatric surgery

Here’s how to begin your weight loss transformation:

  • Start by taking the first step to see if you qualify for surgery. If you qualify, you attend an online or in-person information session to learn more about weight loss surgery. After your information session, you can schedule your first appointment with our experienced bariatric surgery team.

  • We perform thorough preoperative evaluations to make sure you’re ready for surgery. And we help you select the right weight loss procedure for your needs. You’ll meet one on one with your surgeon, a nurse and a registered dietitian. Evaluations may include:

    • Physical exams, lab testing and imaging
    • Nutrition and exercise counseling
    • Mental health assessments
  • Next, we work with you to review your insurance coverage and submit all necessary information to your insurance company. Once we receive your insurance company’s approval, we’ll schedule a surgery date. Learn more in our payment and insurance FAQs.

  • We provide all the important information you need to prepare for surgery, including your pre-bariatric surgery diet and other steps you can take to increase your chances of success.

During weight loss surgery

Weight loss surgery is different for each person. It varies depending on the type of procedure you have. An experienced team, including your surgeon, an anesthesiologist and nurses, oversee your surgery and aftercare. 

In general, you can expect: 

  • Anesthesia: General anesthesia (you will be asleep)
  • Minimally invasive: Yes
  • Procedure time: 1 to 3 hours
  • Hospitalization: 1 to 3 days on average
  • Recovery: 2 to 3 weeks on average

You start your post-bariatric surgery diet right away. A registered dietitian gives you detailed instructions, but most people are on a liquid diet for a couple of weeks after their procedure. It’s also important to stay well hydrated after surgery (46–64 ounces of water each day). Most people are up and walking the same day as their procedure.

After weight loss surgery

Here’s what you can expect during the recovery process:

  • Recovery from weight loss surgery is ongoing. You follow a five-phase eating and drinking plan that evolves over the first six weeks following surgery. Your care team advises you when to begin taking protein and vitamin supplements. Your registered dietitian also provides detailed lists of recommended liquids and foods for each phase of your diet, as well as meal plans. Learn more about your bariatric diet after surgery.

  • You have follow-up appointments after your surgery so we can monitor your weight loss and address any side effects. Follow-up appointments are typically at 1–2 weeks, 6–8 weeks and one year after surgery. Members of your care team are available to answer questions and provide support throughout this time. In addition, twice-monthly support groups and ongoing nutritional counseling will help you stay on track.

  • We invite you to join our free monthly virtual support group meetings led by members of our team. Our group discussions give us time to discuss common concerns and celebrate victories. We encourage pre-operative patients to attend our sessions to learn more about life after surgery and prepare them for success. 

    • St. Francis Hospital: Federal Way
      Offered the second Tuesday of each month from 1-2 p.m. through Zoom and in-person (in-person will be located in the MOB conference room, suite 100)
      Call 253-944-2080 for more information.
    • Virginia Mason Medical Center: Seattle, Lynnwood
      Offered the second Wednesday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m.  (Virtual)
      To register, send email to [email protected]
    • St. Michael Medical Center: Silverdale
      Offered the second Wednesday of each month at 7 pm (Virtual)
      Sessions at SMMC are subject to change. Email [email protected] for more information.

Are you a candidate?

We invite you to take the next step to find out more about your weight loss options.