Life After Weight Loss Surgery
Life after weight loss surgery will be a 180 degree turn from the way you are used to living your life. Despite what some people may think, bariatric surgery is not an “easy way out or a quick fix”. But even though it can be difficult at times, most patients say in the end, it was the best decision they have ever made. I tell our patients during our mandatory educational class that our surgeons have a set of guidelines they expect their patients to follow because they are ‘tried and true’. They know they are safe and they get the desired results for both the patient and the surgeon.
We give our patients a lot of information during this class in written and verbal form so they are well prepared for what to expect over the next 6 months and this helps decrease their anxiety and focus on the tasks at hand: healing from surgery, proper nutrition and losing weight. After returning home from the hospital, caring for your incisions by showering, staying active with light walking and keeping yourself well hydrated with fluids only are your three main goals each day. You will need 2-4 weeks to allow for the internal healing of your incisions, stomach and intestines before increasing your activity and advancing your diet to more solid foods. It typically takes patients anywhere from two to six weeks to start feeling balanced and back to normal again.
After getting through the recovery phase, following are the ways that your life after weight loss surgery may be permanently changed. Depending on which type of bariatric surgery you are considering, a successful procedure will promote a loss of anywhere from 50% to 90% of your excess weight during the first 12-18 months. By completely eliminating obesity discrimination and improving your quality of life, your mental health has an opportunity to improve. Improvements to your physical health can be equally as impressive. In our practice, the following conditions have been shown to diminish or completely go away following bariatric surgery:
High Blood Pressure 73%
Sleep Apnea 67%
Cholesterol Reduction 51%
Reflux Resolution 79%
In actuality, bariatric surgery may be the only cure for many of these co-morbid conditions. Despite all of these positive outcomes, you’ll need to develop permanent long-term habits in order to maintain your weight and health goals. And it is next to certain that you will NOT be able to do this on your own; the direct support of family, friends and your weight loss surgery team will be integral to your long-term success.
Get ready for some significant changes to both what you eat and how you eat. Your new stomach will hold a small fraction of what it did before surgery, so your portion sizes will be smaller. Our staff of Registered Dietitians will educate you on the best food choices with helpful hints/tips to plan ahead to make your days the most successful for you. Then there will be your new found friend…..exercise! Daily exercise is extremely important and should be integrated into your life after weight loss surgery. It has been proven to…prevent blood clots and blood clot symptoms, boost metabolism, improve depression, lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, improve insulin control, increase self esteem, improve libido and help you live longer. You will consult with our friendly Exercise Physiologist at routinely scheduled visits to help you develop a plan of action to become your fittest.
In order to be successful long-term, research suggests that you will need more support than what can be provided from family and friends alone. Many support group articles state the more often patients attend group meetings, the more weight they lose. In addition to holding you accountable for your actions, support groups give you an outlet to discuss problems and situations with people who are going through the same experience. Relationship changes are another great reason to participate in a bariatric surgery support group. These changes often go overlooked by people considering bariatric surgery, and they can be both positive and negative depending on the situation.
So, is bariatric surgery the right choice for you? The decision to undergo bariatric surgery must ultimately be a commitment to healthy living. Success after surgery depends upon your commitment to proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes. Feel free to browse through our website to meet our staff, scan the products, review the testimonials or schedule an appointment to meet with one of our surgeons to discuss if surgery is an appropriate choice for you. Sometimes, just taking that first baby step to learn more about the subject is all that is needed to make the best decision for the rest of your life.
Robin Saunders, RN, BSN, CBN
Bariatric Nurse Coordinator