By nature, we are eaters first, then drinking comes second. Even if it were completely possible for humans to get all of our nutritional needs through a straw, the idea of doing so for the rest of our lives is totally unthinkable for most of us. We crave food. Many of our bariatric surgery patients in New York have shared with us that they’re “stress eaters,” or that they eat when they’re stressed. When you take into consideration the fact that most patients are stressed before they undergo a major surgery such as weight loss surgery, the idea of not eating when you’re already anxious can make the idea of a liquid diet unbearable.
Five Advantages Of The Pre-Op Liquid Diet
With all of that said, we still emphatically recommend a liquid diet prior to your bariatric surgery if it’s possible for you. Here’s why:
Ultrasound-based research and studies have concluded that liver shrinkage occurs during liquid diets. Oftentimes we find patients who have livers so large, around one in 20, that they aren’t able to have surgery until they lose weight. When we have patients who are able to go on pre-op liquid diets, their livers tend to shrink and their procedures do not need to be postponed (which can cause even more stress).
Blood Sugar Control
A large number of our bariatric patients are also diabetic, and controlling their caloric intake through a liquid diet helps to improve their blood sugar control. When you’re able to get a handle on blood sugar before bariatric surgery, it helps reduce your chances of infection.
Patients who suffer from heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are often found to have hiatal hernias. If your liver is enlarged, it can get in the way of your surgeon when he’s trying to repair your hiatal hernia. Since we now know that liquid diets help shrink your liver, you’re killing two birds with one stone if you suffer from GERD or heartburn and have a hiatal hernia by going on the pre-op liquid diet.
When your liver is smaller, your bariatric surgeon will not need to put in a liver retractor to perform your bariatric surgery. This eliminates the hole that is made under your breastbone to put the liver retractor in place, meaning less pain for you in the long run.
Reduce Visceral Fat
When you go on any type of liquid diet, you’re going to lose some weight. Losing weight prior to your bariatric surgery will help decrease your chances of complications and give you a better post-operative experience and recovery. Losing weight is helpful because it reduces visceral fat (abdominal cavity fat), meaning that your surgeon will have a better view when performing your weight loss surgery. Less visceral fat also means that you’ll have a decreased risk for bleeding, you’ll be able to breathe easier, and you’ll be able to get out of bed easier after your surgery, reducing your risk of blood clots.
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