Setting Yourself Up for Weight Loss Surgery Success
Choose the right surgeon.
If weight loss surgery is the tool, your bariatric surgeon is the one who makes the tool and gives it to you. You want a tool that is made precisely, ready to do the job, and built to last. Your surgeon needs to make the right cuts and place the band properly or make a tight, solid sleeve or pouch. So, look for a surgeon who is experienced and has a good track record of successful patients and low complication rates – don’t be afraid to ask!
There’s more to choosing a surgeon than technical skills. Also, consider what else the surgeon will do for you. The right surgeon for you is willing to discuss your options and the procedure with you in a way that you can understand. You’re setting yourself up for extra challenges if you’re afraid to talk to your surgeon or your surgeon is unavailable.
Get the scoop on the diet.
Your diet is central to every part of the weight loss surgery journey. You may be told to lose some weight before surgery as a test to make sure you’ll follow the rules post-op. Then there’s the pre-op liquid diet to shrink your liver for a safer surgery. Next, for faster healing and fewer side effects, you need to follow the post-op progression from liquids to pureed foods to solid foods. Finally, there’s the nutrient-dense, low-calorie diet to help you hit goal weight and stay there.
At best, you will have a surgeon or a nutritionist who gives you plenty of information. Since that’s not always the case, you may need to take steps to figure out the diet for yourself. You can look online, and may need to shell out the money for a few appointments with a nutritionist. Not knowing the right foods to eat can set you up for surgery complications and disappointing weight loss.
It’s nice to depend on a stellar surgeon and complete healthcare team to walk you through surgery and beyond step by step. Ideally, your trusted surgeon would explain your options to you and recommend the best surgery for you, whether it’s the sleeve, band, bypass, or another choice. You’d go back for follow-up appointments and ongoing nutritional and psychological counseling.
That doesn’t always happen in the real world, but that’s no excuse to give up. You can take responsibility for finding out the information you need to know about what to expect, how to prepare, and what comes next. Be persistent and do your research in all kinds of places, and you’re more likely to succeed.
Face the facts.
Weight loss surgery isn’t all fun and games. You don’t leave the operating room skinny. Weight loss isn’t steady. It may take you longer to get to goal weight than you hoped. Recognize the real possibilities to avoid being disappointed and possibly even giving up.
These are some other possibilities to consider, so you can be prepared if they happen to you.
- You may still love sugar, salt, fat, and/or starch.
- You may still be hungry.
- Others may not notice your weight loss, or may not be impressed.
- Others may be jealous of your weight loss or say you didn’t earn it.
- You may have loose skin when you are finished losing weight.
- Weight loss surgery doesn’t solve psychological problems.
If you want to lose weight and get healthy, you’ve got to change your diet. Whatever eating habits got you to this point are not going to get you to goal weight!
That may mean you need to be open-minded. Maybe you hated vegetables, or can’t stand the thought of downing protein shakes for 2 weeks on the pre-op liquid diet and up to 4 weeks on the post-op liquid and mushies diets.
It’s time to re-evaluate. Can you sneak some veggies into your diet? Can you retrain your brain to love them? Can you force down those protein shakes for a few weeks in exchange for a lifetime’s worth of better health?
Learn to see the good.
There will be disappointments - guaranteed. The scale may not cooperate, or you may make a poor eating choice, or you might skip your morning workout because you didn’t make sleep a priority the night before. Focus on the negative, and you just may talk yourself out of continuing the hard work and good progress.
Instead, learn to appreciate yourself and see the positive sides of things. Maybe you didn’t lose weight this week, but did you eat right? Maybe you downed a piece of pepperoni pizza without thinking about it, but did you pass up the breadsticks and soda that you would have had before surgery? Maybe you didn’t work out this morning, but did you make it to the gym more this month than you did last month?
See yourself as a strong, powerful person, and you will act like one. You can build on the positive behaviors you see in yourself so they eventually overshadow the mistakes.
You have control over your own destiny. Success with weight loss surgery depends on planning and hard work. The more you are involved and the more responsibility you take throughout the process, the better you can do.