"group of exercising friends taking a selfie"Written By: Janet L. Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDCES
Bariatric surgery is a life-changing decision that can lead to significant weight loss and improved health.  However, it’s important to understand that surgery alone is not a magic solution.  Exercise plays a crucial role in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight after bariatric surgery.  Let’s explore exercise basics both before and after bariatric surgery, as well as the topic of plastic surgery to remove loose skin, a common concern for many post-surgery patients.

Exercise Before Bariatric Surgery

  1. Preparation is Key:  Before undergoing bariatric surgery, it’s essential to start preparing your body for  the journey ahead.  This includes incorporating exercise into your daily routine.  Consult with your healthcare team to determine a suitable exercise plan tailored to your current fitness level.
  2. Low-Impact Activities:  Focus on low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, or stationary cycling.  These activities can help improve cardiovascular fitness and stamina while minimizing stress on your joints.
  3. Strength Training:  Building muscle can aid in preserving lean muscle mass during weight loss.  Simple bodyweight exercises or resistance band workouts can be effective.
  4. Flexibility Training:  Stretching exercises can increase flexibility  and reduce the risk of injury.  Consider activities like yoga or Pilates to improve flexibility.

Exercise After Bariatric Surgery

  1. Post-Surgery Guidelines:  Follow your bariatric surgeon’s instructions carefully regarding when to start exercising after bariatric surgery.  Typically, patients can gradually resume physical activity a few weeks after the procedure.  Walking will begin as soon as a few hours post-operatively.
  2. Start Slowly:  Begin with gentle exercises such as short walks and light stretching.  Listen to your body and progress at a pace that feels comfortable.
  3. Build Consistency:  Consistency is key to long-term success.  Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, as recommended by health guidelines.
  4. Strength Training:  Incorporate strength training to help tone and strengthen your muscles.  This can also assist in preventing loose skin by filling out some of the space left by lost fat.

Plastic Surgery for Loose Skin

Loose skin is a common concern after significant weight loss following bariatric surgery.  While exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help, sometimes plastic surgery is necessary to remove excess skin that cannot be resolved through natural means.  Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Consultation:  Consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in post-bariatric body  contouring.  They can assess your specific needs and provide guidance on the most appropriate procedures.
  2. Types of Surgery:  Common procedures for excess skin removal include:
    • Panniculectomy (removal of the “apron” or skin hanging in front of the stomach)
    • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
    • Arm lift
    • Thigh lift
    • Breast Lift

    Your plastic surgeon will recommend the best options for your unique situation.

  3. Timing:  It’s important to wait until your weight has stabilized post-surgery before considering plastic surgery for loose skin.  Surgeons recommend waiting 12-18 months before your first plastic surgery consultation.
  4. Recovery:  Understand that the recovery process can vary depending on the procedures performed.  Follow your plastic surgeon’s post-operative instructions diligently to ensure a smooth recovery.


Exercise is a critical component of the bariatric surgery journey, both before and after the procedure.  By following a well-structured exercise plan and considering plastic surgery options for loose skin when appropriate, individuals can achieve their weight loss goals and enjoy improved health and confidence on their path to recovery.  Always consult with your healthcare team for personalized guidance on exercise and post-bariatric surgery care.

Note:  For additional tips and information on exercise and plastic surgery after bariatric surgery see previous blog posts:



Janet Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE
By Janet Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE
Janet Klein, MS, RDN, CDN, CDE is Garnet Health Medical Center's Bariatric Surgery Program Director. 

She received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietetics from the State University at Oneonta and her Master of Science in Education from Queens College University. She is a Certified Diabetes Educator, a Registered Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist, holds an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics certificate of Training in Obesity Interventions for Adults and is a member of the Integrated Health group of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS).

She brings more than 35 years of clinical, educational and leadership experience to Garnet Health Medical Center, where she spearheaded the Bariatric Surgery Program in 2008, received Accreditation for the program through the ASMBS in 2011, re-accredited the program through the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) in 2014, 2017, currently and continues to lead the program with passion.

Janet can be reached at 845-333-2123 or

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