The only comprehensive bariatrics program in Savannah

Bariatric surgery can help morbidly obese patients lose much of their excess body weight. Patients must be willing to follow a very specific post-surgery program and make significant lifestyle changes. Following the program can result in dramatic weight loss, a physical and psychological transformation and a new lease on life.

Our bariatrics team works with patients before and long after surgery to ensure their success. Our patients receive extensive education and ongoing psychological support.

About bariatric surgery

Weight-loss surgery is a major medical undertaking. It can result in improved health, increased mobility, a longer life and heightened self-esteem. However, like all surgical procedures, it carries a certain amount of risk.

At Memorial Health, we make sure our patients know all the risks, have researched all of their options and are fully educated about the surgical procedure. Each procedure has its own risks and requirements. We will help you select the appropriate procedure.

Bariatric surgery itself is only a tool. It is a way to make the weight loss possible, but it is only successful when used along with major lifestyle and eating changes. Your success depends on how closely you follow the diet, exercise and vitamin requirements after surgery.

Surgery options

Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is the current gold standard procedure for weight-loss surgery and is one of the most frequently performed weight loss procedures in the US.

In this procedure, the surgeon uses a stapling device to create a small stomach pouch. The remainder of the stomach is not removed, but is completely separated from the pouch. The outlet from this newly formed pouch empties directly into the lower portion of the small intestine.

This procedure creates a sense of early fullness and satisfaction that reduces the desire to eat.

Sleeve gastrectomy removes the portion of the stomach that stretches the easiest. However, the remaining portion can still be stretched over time, so measuring food portion is essential. As is the case with other forms of weight-loss surgery, careful eating habits and exercise patterns are vital for long-term success.

Sometimes weight-loss surgeries that were performed years ago need to be changed or redone. We do these revisions, regardless of where your first surgery was performed.

While you are recovering in the hospital, you will stay in a dedicated bariatric surgery unit. The nursing staff is specially trained to meet the unique needs of our patients.

After you leave the hospital, you will have 24/7 telephone access to a nurse, along with scheduled appointments with an exercise physiologist and dietitian.

Changes in eating habits

Weight-loss surgery requires you to make permanent changes in your eating habits. Some of the changes include:

  • Chew solid foods, such as steak, thoroughly.
  • Do not drink fluids while eating. You need to wait 90 minutes after eating before drinking any fluid.
  • Do not consume desserts that list sugar as one of the first three ingredients.
  • Omit carbonated drinks, alcohol, high-calorie nutritional supplements, milk shakes and foods with high-fat and high-fiber content.
  • Limit snacking between meals.
  • Take vitamin supplements as directed by your doctor.

Bariatrics programs and workshops

Lost your focus? Hit a plateau? Regained some weight? This class is for you.

Designed by Bariatric Support Centers International (BSCI), the Back On Track Program provides education and motivation to help you reach and maintain your weight-loss goals. This program is open to anybody who has had weight-loss surgery, regardless of where the surgery was performed.

Call (912) 350-DIET (3438) to register.

Weight-loss surgery, combined with the Success Habits™ principles, will help you reach and maintain your goal weight. You can learn about the principles of weight loss and how to incorporate healthy habits into your own lifestyle. Meet other weight-loss surgery patients, enjoy bariatric-friendly refreshments and win door prizes.

Call (912) 350-DIET (3438) to register.

Bariatric surgery FAQs

What will the staples do inside my abdomen? Is it OK in the future to have an MRI? Will I set off metal detectors in airports?

The staples used on the stomach and the intestines are very tiny. They are much smaller than the staples you will have in your skin or staples you use in the office. Each staple is made of stainless steel or titanium and is so small it is hard to see other than as a tiny bright spot. Most people are not allergic to them and they do not cause any problems. The staples are non-magnetic, which means they will not be affected by an MRI. The staples will not set off airport metal detectors.

Can bariatric surgery help with other physical conditions?

Research has shown that weight-loss surgery can improve or resolve associated health conditions:

Condition Percentage found in preoperative individuals Percentage cured 2 years after surgery
Diabetes or insulin resistance 34% 85%
High blood pressure 26% 66%
High triglycerides 40% 85%
Sleep apnea 22% in males, 1% in females 40%
Will I have to change my medications?

Your doctor will determine whether medications for blood pressure, diabetes, etc., can be stopped as your health improves after weight-loss surgery. For medications that must be continued, the vast majority can be swallowed and absorbed after weight-loss surgery. Usually no change in dose is required.

When can I return to work?

Your ability to resume pre-surgery levels of activity will vary based on your physical condition and the nature of the activity. Many patients return to full pre-surgery levels of activity within six weeks of their procedure. Patients who have had a minimally invasive laparoscopic procedure may be able to return to these activities within a few weeks.

Can I get pregnant after surgery?

Because of the added demands pregnancy places on your body and the potential for fetal damage, we strongly advise women to use at least two effective forms of birth control during the first 16 to 24 months after weight-loss surgery.

Is there a problem with consuming milk products?

Milk contains lactose (milk sugar), which is not well digested. Depending on individual tolerance, some people find even the smallest amount of milk can cause cramps, gas, and diarrhea.

Is there any restriction of salt intake?

No, your salt intake will be unchanged unless otherwise instructed by your primary care physician.

Will I be able to eat spicy foods or seasoned foods?

Most patients are able to enjoy spices after the initial six months following surgery.

What if I'm not hungry after surgery?

It's normal not to have an appetite for the first month or two after bariatric surgery. If you are able to consume liquids reasonably well, there is a level of confidence that your appetite will increase with time.

Why can't I snack between meals?

Snacking, nibbling or grazing on foods, usually high-calorie and high-fat foods, can add hundreds of calories a day to your intake, defeating the restrictive effect of your operation. Snacking will slow down your weight loss and can lead to weight gain.

Will I be constantly hungry after surgery?

Most patients say no. In fact, for the first four to six weeks patients have almost no appetite, until several months after surgery.

How big will my stomach pouch be?

In the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, the stomach pouch created is 30 cc (one ounce) or less in size. About six to 12 months after surgery, the stomach pouch expands slightly, but it will always remain smaller than the normal stomach. Many patients end up with a meal capacity of three to seven ounces.

Will I have difficulty taking medications?

Most pills or capsules are small enough to pass through the new stomach pouch. Initially, your doctor may suggest that medications be taken in liquid form or crushed.

How will I know I won’t continue to lose weight until the point of malnutrition?

Patients may begin to wonder about this early after the surgery when they are losing 20 to 40 pounds per month, or maybe when they've lost more than 100 pounds and they're still losing weight. Two things happen to allow weight to stabilize. First, a patient's ongoing metabolic needs (calories burned) decrease as the body sheds excess pounds. Second, there is a natural progressive increase in calorie and nutrient intake over the months following weight-loss surgery. The stomach pouch and attached small intestine learn to work together, and there is some expansion in pouch size over a period of months. The bottom line is that, in the absence of a surgical complication, patients are very unlikely to lose weight to the point of malnutrition.

Will I lose hair after surgery? How can I prevent it?

Many patients experience some hair loss or thinning after surgery. This usually occurs between the fourth and the eighth month after surgery. Consistent intake of protein at mealtime is the most important prevention method. Also recommended are a daily zinc supplement and a good daily volume of fluid intake. Most patients experience natural hair regrowth after the initial period of loss.

Can I eat red meat after surgery?

You can, but you will need to be very careful. We recommend you avoid it for the first several months. Red meat contains a high level of meat fibers (gristle) that hold the meat together, preventing you from separating it into small parts when you chew. The gristle can plug the outlet of your stomach pouch and prevent anything from passing through, a condition that is very uncomfortable.

Why do I need to exercise after surgery?

Several studies have shown that regular exercise helps you build muscle, replacing muscle lost during the period of rapid weight loss in the first six months after surgery. Patients who exercise feel better and manage their weight loss better.

Will exercise help with loose skin after I lose weight?

Unfortunately, even with consistent exercise some patients may still be left with large flaps of loose skin