Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric or metabolic surgery, is often used as a treatment for people with obesity problems. Obesity can lead to diseases that can be difficult to treat and is related to many other medical problems. Treatment for obesity goes beyond a quick diet or surgery. Bariatric surgery, apart from resulting in significant weight loss, can also help improve many obesity-related conditions.
Patients should expect to have a new lifestyle that combines lots of healthy eating, exercise, and regular visits to healthcare experts. This approach will offer the best chance for the patient’s success at preventing weight regain and medical problems. But this procedure is a major operation that in most cases should only be considered after trying to lose weight through a healthy diet and exercise.
There are different types of weight loss surgery, the most common are:
•The gastric band. This procedure consists of a band being placed around the stomach, so the patient will eat lesser amounts of food.
•The gastric bypass. Consists of joining the top part of the stomach to the small intestine, giving a sense of being full sooner and preventing the body from absorbing many calories from food.
•And the sleeve gastrectomy. In this surgery part of the stomach is removed, resulting in the patient being unable to eat as much as they could before and feeling full sooner.
All these procedures can lead to significant weight loss within a few years, but as with any other bariatric surgery, each has advantages and disadvantages and it’s the patient’s responsibility to take care of themselves to assure better and longer results after the procedure. If you are considering weight loss surgery, the first step you need to take is to speak to a surgeon about the different types available, to help you decide which is your best option.
How will weight loss surgery change my life?
This question is very common within patients who are looking to undergo bariatric surgery. The answer won’t always be the same, we all know everybody is different and the results this procedure has on the patient are tied to the life conditions they’re living. Weight loss surgery can have a great impact in numerous aspects, having a ‘normal’ life after the surgery mostly depends on how ‘normal’ is defined by the patient. But a short answer can be: you will have a new life.
A bariatric surgery can achieve dramatic weight loss, and even though it helps with obesity related problems, it’s not a cure for obesity on its own. In order for the patient to achieve this new life, they’ll need to commit to making permanent lifestyle changes after surgery to avoid putting weight back on and preventing some diseases.
Following weight loss surgery, patients will be on a special diet provided by their bariatric surgery team. Most patients will start out on a liquid diet for some weeks, then will slowly start to take soft foods, and once they’re ready solid foods. Drinking plenty of fluids after the surgery is very important, although it can be difficult. Patients are recommended to drink at least 64 ounces of fluids a day. And in addition to staying hydrated, they will need to focus on how much protein they’re taking in. Not ingesting enough protein can lead to weakness and muscle loss, causing serious repercussions.
And after going through what may sound like extreme changes in their diet, the patient will move on to a healthier diet for life. So as mentioned before, this is a commitment that requires a huge amount of effort from the patient. If adjusting to this new lifestyle doesn’t sound convincing, trust us when we say that this is worth leaving all of your old problems behind.
Studies have shown that losing even a small percentage of excess body fat reduces the risk of developing diabetes. And for patients who have already been diagnosed with this disease, weight loss can decrease dependency on medication. A healthy body weight is essential in both the prevention and treatment of diabetes. While weight loss surgery may not be a cure for this condition, research has proved that diabetic patients who choose bariatric surgery see an improvement in their blood sugar levels. Weight loss surgery can be a big help for patients who are unable to control their blood sugar with diet, medication and exercise alone.
So, can the patient live a normal life after weight loss surgery? Well, we firmly believe that they can live a better life. Like any other bariatric procedure, a weight loss surgery requires big responsibility and a lot of effort from the patient. It’s not the easy way out like many people tend to believe, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a nutritious diet and an active life is essential.
Life after weight loss surgery
Weight loss surgery is a tool, it works if you work it. A bariatric surgeon won’t be with the patient all day everyday to make sure they are following the rules after surgery. And what are the rules exactly? They’re nothing more than instructions designed so the patient won’t regain weight and so they can live this new, better and healthier life. And these rules can start simple, for example if the patient’s goals are centered on improving or resolving health conditions they can focus on real aspirations that don’t concentrate on a number on a scale. Every big change comes from setting the mind to it. Keep these goals as a reminder of why you make the choices you do every day as someone who is committed to improving their life.
So far we’ve talked about the importance of a healthy diet, but there are other steps patients’ must follow to maintain weight loss. After bariatric surgery, patients often feel more energetic and exercising frequently can help patients recover faster. Each patient’s recovery is different and should always check with their surgeon before they start intense exercise. And of course, exercise will also help keep the weight loss off when they make a habit of it.
Another rule for patients who have chosen to undergo this surgical procedure: they need to quit smoking and drinking. Most bariatric surgery centers will require patients to stop consuming all nicotine products before weight loss surgery. Nicotine use aggravates the body’s ability to heal from the surgery, and puts patients more at risk for multiple diseases. On the other hand alcohol use after bariatric surgery can have serious consequences, given that the alcohol is absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream after surgery therefore resulting in higher levels of alcohol in the patient’s system for a longer period of time.
This next rule is temporary. Weight loss surgery can help patients become pregnant due to the changes in their health. But for female patients who have pregnancy plans for the near future it is recommended to wait for the procedure. This is because after going through weight loss surgery they will have to avoid pregnancy for 12 to 18 months, in order to reach their lowest possible weight and ensure that they have sufficient nutrition.
Taking vitamins is also an important part of the journey. Bariatric experts often recommend taking a multivitamin, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Iron. Chewable vitamins are a great option, but some patients can take pills if tolerated. Patients who do not take vitamins every day can later suffer severe medical issues due to low vitamin and mineral levels.
And besides having to make all of these adjustments, early after surgery patients will follow up every few months for the first year. We recommend them having yearly visits with their bariatric specialist for life. These are important visits, since additional treatment with weight loss medications, advice on lifestyle changes, and even more surgery can be part of long-term follow up. Remember that after a surgery your bariatric expert will be your confident.
Is weight loss surgery worth it?
Reading all of these rules and new habits may be frightening for some, but the reality is that weight loss surgery will definitely improve your life and overall health. Not only during the first months, we’re talking about long lasting changes that can only be achieved if the patient is truly committed to them. If you still have doubts about this procedure, feel free to consult your bariatric expert at CER Hospital. Changes can be scary, but they often come with a huge reward. Living a healthy lifestyle should be part of everyone’s life, not only for patients of weight loss surgery.
Life After Bariatric Surgery. (2021). ASMBS. https://asmbs.org/patients/life-after-bariatric-surgery
Weight Loss Surgery. (s. f.). NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/weight-loss-surgery/