Patients who are looking to undergo bariatric surgery often ask themselves how their lives will change. Weight loss surgery can have a great impact in numerous aspects of someone’s life. Bariatric surgery is a great tool to help you manage your weight. It can help you achieve dramatic weight loss, improving your health and conditions caused by obesity. But in order for the patient to achieve this new life, they’ll need to commit to making permanent lifestyle changes before and after surgery. The more thought you put into this decision and the lifestyle changes you make before surgery, the easier the transition.
If you’re planning to have weight loss surgery such as sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding or a gastric bypass then you should prepare so that you can rest and recover properly following your operation, adjusting easily to a new lifestyle. Getting ready for weight loss surgery takes a lot of effort and time. It’s important to be prepared and to have a plan that will allow you to be as relaxed as possible before your surgery while being able to focus on the routine required to start your recovery.
The process for bariatric surgery can be mentally and physically challenging like any other major change in life and being prepared is a whole different process for every person. That is why we want to share with you a couple of steps that will help you go through this decision, leaving you ready to start a new life.
What is required before a weight loss surgery?
Taking this procedure one step at a time can make the transition easier and will help you build healthy habits that eventually will stick with you long-term. After all, bariatric surgery is just one component of a major lifestyle change. Before your surgery your bariatric specialist will set ground rules about the changes you must endure before undergoing this procedure, some of them will be very strict. But for now we’ll share with you 6 steps that will allow you to adapt and prepare for the upcoming operation.
1. Lifestyle changes. Getting mentally prepared for your bariatric surgery is a crucial step to help get you on your way to achieving a healthier lifestyle. Before adjusting yourself to a whole new set of habits, you have to get rid of those that are unhealthy for you body and your mind. We suggest you start by scheduling a monthly change, for example: the first month I’ll stop eating take out, the second I’ll stop smoking, etcetera. This will help you be mentally prepared once you start facing the change itself. And here’s the list of habits you’ll have to change:
- Stop smoking
- Limit or stop your alcohol intake
- Start exercising a few minutes every day
- Start taking a multivitamin
- Change your eating habits
Adjusting is never easy. But being mentally prepared can make a huge difference on how our body and brain take in these new habits. Remember to always seek for help when you need it, not only with your bariatric expert but also with a friend, family member or a loved one
2. Give food a new meaning. Surgery will change your relationship with food, given that it will modify how much you can eat at one time. But it depends solely on you to change your eating habits, on what you eat and why you eat it. Eating less does not mean that you’re eating healthier and if you eat when you’re stressed, sad or affected by any other emotion, your relationship with food is in danger and has to change.
It’s a long and hard process, yes, but necessary to start months before the surgery. This will help you transition to your new diet in a better way. By adjusting yourself before your operation you will be programming your brain and body to be ready to eat less and healthier. Try to start building a safe food environment to help you get rid of mindless eating.
3. Discuss your expectations about the weight loss procedure. To have a smooth transition, it is important to set some realistic post-surgery expectations before the procedure. Discuss your goals with your surgeon, be confident to tell them what you’re expecting and to ask them how you will get to it.
Remember that your surgery is not the immediate answer to weight loss, it’s more of an internal tool that will help you on your weight loss journey. In that matter, it is even more important to set these goals with yourself, keeping it realistic and knowing that it will require hard work from you. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the same results that someone else had. Everybody is different and the type of surgery you had also plays a role in how much weight loss you can expect.
4. Medication. If you’re taking medication, consult your doctor to know which ones you need to change. It’s recommended to avoid the following types of medication one week prior to surgery: aspirin, blood thinners or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Ibuprofen, Motrin, etc. If there is a special need for the use of these medications please discuss them with your doctor and surgeon.
5. Pre-surgery diet. Two to three weeks prior to the surgery, you will be placed on a high protein, very low calorie pre-operation diet. Our recommendation, as mentioned before, is to start with small changes in your eating habits that will allow you to be more comfortable with this pre-operative diet. Some of the food changes you’ll have to experience are:
- Eliminating all fats (butter, meats, fried foods, whole milk products)
- Stopping high sugar food intake
- Avoiding all carbonated drinks
The diet is specifically made to help you reduce fat, improving the ease and safety of your surgery. In fact, a study conducted by Stanford University’s School of Medicine found that patients can expect to lose more weight after the surgery by adjusting their eating habits. Additionally, patients who lost weight before their procedure spent less time in the operating room because the surgeons are able to perform the surgery more easily.
6. Arrange everything you’ll need after the surgery. An extra step you could take is making sure you have everything in order weeks before the surgery. Find out what paperwork and medical history documents you need to present, attend support groups or informational meetings, if you have kids or pets, arrange for them to be taken care of, plan your post-surgery transportation and prepare your food following the recommended diet given to you by your surgeon.
What should I take to the hospital?
Another extra step to be extra ready for your bariatric surgery. You may want to bring into the hospital the following items:
• Comfortable night-wear and some slippers.
• Personal toiletries including mouthwash. Why? After surgery your digestive system is completely changed and even if you’re not prone to get bad breath, you will probably have bad breath.
• Any medication you require for your stay.
• Comfy, easy to put on clothes that are loose fitting.
• Books and magazines, to keep you entertained if you need to.
• And any device that will help you keep in touch with your friends and family after the surgery.
And after the surgery?
Now you are totally prepared for your weightloss journey. But after the surgery, what’s next? Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is the easy part. What’s hard is keeping these changes and following up on your new ways. We highly recommend paying regular visits to your bariatric surgeon, this helps build a strong relationship with them and allows you to share challenges. Following up with your expert also provides the opportunity to make sure you are on track and your body is keeping itself healthy.
We’re sharing a secret with you that will allow you to maintain healthy habits: keep yourself accountable. Your decisions are yours only, most of your success will come from your persistence and hard work, don’t give up on yourself, big changes often take longer time and once you get there you will be satisfied with the decisions you’ve made. And our final tip, keep a diary of these changes, this will help you stay honest with yourself and track your progress.
For more questions about weight loss surgery, contact one of our bariatric expertes at CER Bariatrics. They will guide you through the whole process and will encourage you to make the changes you want to see in yourself.
N.H.S. (s. f.). Weight loss surgery. NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/weight-loss-surgery/
Preparing for Bariatric Surgery. (2021). UPMC. https://www.upmc.com/services/bariatrics/surgery-process/presurgical-program
Weight loss surgery. (2021). Memorial Weight Loss Center. https://memorialweightlosscenter.com/steps-to-surgical-weight-loss/preparing-for-your-surgery/