Things to Keep in Mind Before and After Weight-loss Surgery

Bariatric surgery will change your life, but you need to fully commit to the pre- and postoperative guidelines to ensure its success. There are specific actions to take and important points to consider before and after weight loss surgery.

What should you know before weight-loss surgery?

Firstly, you may not need weight-loss surgery. Typically, it is only recommended when all other weight-loss methods have failed and when the person is facing life-threatening health concerns. 

There are innumerable tricks, tools, diets, and fitness plans for every body type out there in today’s day and age. For the benefit of your own health, ask yourself, have I really committed to testing and trying the top weight-loss methods?

Weight-loss surgery is often considered a shortcut, or hack, to weight loss, and it shouldn’t be. It entails radical changes to your lifestyle and diet beyond the surgery itself. Before undergoing any internal modifications to your body—minimal as they may seem—make sure you have exhausted all other avenues. 

The reality is: there are no shortcuts to health, and many of the answers you need to improve your health are already in your possession; you may simply need to apply them consistently and in the long term.

Secondly, to reiterate the point made above, weight-loss surgery entails dynamic changes you will need to make to your lifestyle and diet beyond the surgery. 

You really can’t be lukewarm about it; you need to make a promise to yourself and prioritize your health so that this life-saving surgery heals rather than harms. Needless to say, as with any other surgical procedure, weight-loss surgery does not come without its share of discomforts, side effects, and health risks.

How do you mentally prepare for bariatric surgery?

Psychology plays a crucial role before and after weight loss. As with other weight-loss approaches, success is as much a mental game as a physical one when it comes to bariatric surgery.

  • Set realistic goals and expectations. If you’ve decided to undergo weight-loss surgery, you probably believe it will work. But, what if it doesn’t? While success rates are high for this type of surgery, exceptions can occur. By setting realistic goals and expectations, you’ll be more prepared for setbacks that may or may not occur.
  • Remember, it’s a process. As obvious as this sounds, we tend to get frustrated when we don’t receive immediate gratification in this day and age. Your body will need time to recover from weight-loss surgery and adapt to a new diet, portion control, and overall lifestyle shift. Prepare to exercise patience. 
  • Identify your social support network. Make sure you have folks that you can rely on following your surgery. Your network may include family, friends, a support group (virtual or local), your doctor, dietitian, and therapist. You may not need to tap into your support network, but simply knowing that it’s there can make all the difference.
  • Seek help when you need it. Being overweight is hard, really hard. In fact, it’s no surprise that there is often a direct correlation between obesity and depression. 

Bariatric surgery may bring you closer to achieving your weight goals and improving your health. However, it takes dedication to confront the insecurities and traumas you may have picked up throughout your life leading up to this moment—whether they are weight- and health-related or not!

Sometimes, drastic changes in our life, like undergoing weight-loss surgery, trigger unresolved emotions. There should be no shame in this whatsoever. By addressing your emotional and mental health with the help of a trusted professional, you’re also improving your post-bariatric surgery success rate. So, if you’re struggling with depression, play an active role in your own support network and seek help.

What to expect after bariatric surgery?

After your weight-loss surgery, you may expect some, or all, of the following:

Head Hunger

Following the procedure, you’ll be expected to stick to a detailed post-bariatric surgery diet. The hardest part for most people is the pre-op liquid diet. After surgery, you’ll continue on liquids for two weeks. Soft foods are added to the diet in the third week. You’ll begin to understand the difference between head hunger and real hunger. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly; physical hunger occurs gradually.

Filling Up Faster

Several weight-loss surgery techniques involve changes to your digestive system that either restrict how much you can eat or work to convince your brain that you are full. The result is that you eat much less and feel satiated (full) a lot quicker. 

Your portions will be much smaller, and you’ll likely feel less hungry, but your body still needs essential nutrients – mostly coming from dense protein and healthy fats. Make sure the meals you do eat are rich in these and good for your body’s recovery. You will also need to round off your diet with vitamin supplements.

Side Effects

Medical interventions usually come with potential side effects. After bariatric surgery, you may experience one or more discomforts, including acid reflux, nausea (related to the anesthesia used during surgery or to your digestion and appetite), and, in more severe cases, the dilation of the esophagus or obstruction of the stomach. 

Chances are quite slim that these will occur, but they do exist.

Weight Loss

If you commit to the guidelines before and after weight loss surgery, you will soon start losing excess weight and feeling lighter, healthier, and happier. Along with the weight, medical conditions may improve significantly or even resolve themselves.

How long does it take to recover after the procedure?

Recovery is a common concern to those undergoing weight-loss surgery. Remember that you can significantly minimize your recovery time by adhering to strict diet and lifestyle guidelines before and after the procedure.

That said, there’s no need to sugarcoat it: Though minimally invasive, bariatric surgery still entails modifications to your internal organs. Your body will need time to adjust to these changes, and the process may occasionally feel uncomfortable.

Expect a 2–3 week recovery period, though some people take as long as six weeks before returning to their regular activities, like work.

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