Weight loss surgery is not for everyone. You need to consider that you ought to commit yourself to change your lifestyle, and it is a hard work. Although bariatric surgery is effective in treating health diseases related to obesity, the pounds do not come off easily. To put it simply, the surgery is just an aid to help you achieve lasting results in your health and quality of living by limiting your food intake.
Your decision to have a bariatric surgery must not be taken lightly. You have to go through a series of process to make sure you are ready and able to successfully begin this life-changing journey. Part of your preparation is educating yourself and analyzing if this is the right action for you. So, before we discuss what the things you can expect for your first appointment and what to prepare. Let us first answer the question: Why is preparation essential for your weight loss surgery?
Reasons to Prepare Properly
- It will help you lose more weight after surgery.
A 2014 study by the Stanford University School of Medicine showed that every 1% of weight loss of the patient during pre-op entails a 1.8% increase in weight loss after one-year post-op. The study indicates that patients are highly encouraged to lose weight during pre-surgery to achieve maximal results.
- It will minimize your risk of complications during the surgery.
The study also found out that those patients who lose 5% of their excess weight before the surgery had an average 36 minute shorter operating time. This means that the lower the weight of the patient, the easier it is for the doctor to perform the procedure. In general, less operating time also means a lower risk of complications during the operation.
Another study headed by Dr. Benotti showed the correlation between pre-op weight loss and complication rates with 881 gastric bypass patients. He concluded that the more weight the patients lose while preparing for the surgery, the less likely they experience complications.
- It will increase your possibility of keeping your weight off for a longer period of time.
You probably heard it before, “old habits die hard”. The same applies to lose weight. Maybe you have tried all means that you can, you may lose few pounds before but you keep on relapsing.
One of the most important reasons for you to prepare during the early stage of your surgery is to reverse poor habits. Habits take ample of time to change, and weight loss surgery will never work over a long period of time if you do not do anything to change your habits.
This is worth remembering, your bariatric surgery will not have lasting results if you do not change your habits.
If you keep on repeating your poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle following surgery, you will most likely gain back your original weight and you will experience a relapse in your severe health problems associated with obesity.
Just like how a marathon runner would never attempt to compete without months of conditioning; a weight loss surgery patient should not go to the operating theater without significant preparations.
Here is another fact, the sooner you start preparing for your weight loss surgery, the more likely will you establish new and healthier habits to achieve your lifelong weight loss goals.
What to Expect 3 to 6 Months before your Surgery?
The moment you decide to have a bariatric surgery, you realize that it is not an instant process. You need to go through a rigid evaluation with health professionals and your surgeon. You will have to go back and forth to your hospital to meet your bariatric team and discuss ways on how you can prepare better and maximize results.
Step 1: Initial Patient Education and Interview.
- At your first appointment, you will be asked to provide your medical history and insurance information. This will be evaluated by your bariatric surgeon.
- You will then be asked to attend a seminar by your surgeon to educate you about the risks, complications, benefits, and other important information about bariatric surgery.
- After an initial interview with your bariatric surgeon, he or she will answer all of your questions. If you choose to have a weight loss surgery, you will then be asked to have an agreement with your surgeon about their responsibilities and your role throughout the entire process.
Step 2: Preoperative Evaluation.
You will have to obtain the necessary preoperative evaluation and clearances from specialists. Depending on your insurance, you will be required to have a psychological evaluation, nutritional evaluation, and counseling session.
If you have some severe complications related to obesity, you will be evaluated by our specialists in cardiology, pulmonary medicine and alike. At the same time, your bariatric team will work on getting an approval from your insurance company to proceed with your surgery.
Step 3: First Support Group Meeting.
Some hospitals participate with a local bariatric support group that conducts monthly meetings.
The monthly meetings are intended for individuals who:
- are keen on learning more about weight loss surgery.
- have been through a weight loss procedure before.
- are in need of help or support with obesity-health related problems.
This kind of educational program is for free and you can attend multiple times. Some surgeons require patients to attend an educational program at least once.
Step 4: Pre-operative Visit:
After completing all required tests, paperwork, and requirements, you will undergo a physical examination at your surgeon’s office where further counseling will be given and a patient consent will be signed. You will then arrange other necessary things such as preoperative anesthesia, hospital interviews, and pay your fees.
How do I prepare myself?
For you to improve your health and achieve higher results, you need to live as if you already had a surgery 3 months in advance.
You will be advised to do the following:
- Begin to eat food for your health, not for pleasure.
After your surgery, you will have a smaller stomach and it will be difficult for your body to process food. If you eat too many sweets and junk food, you will risk yourself to malnutrition and experience terrible side effects, better known as the dumping syndrome.
This might be difficult to do while preparing for your surgery, but after post-op, you will lose your appetite faster and your sense of taste will alter due to hormonal changes.
- Consume more protein.
Eating more protein will make you feel fuller sooner and for a longer period of time. When you are losing so much weight following surgery, you will need protein to preserve your muscles.
- Eat slowly, and watch the portion of your food.
Studies show that it takes 30 minutes for your brain to register that you are already full. Eating and chewing your food slowly helps you regulate the food you consume. By doing this, it will also help you lose weight prior to surgery.
- Start drinking multivitamins.
Since you will eat less food, and the size of your stomach will be smaller, you will not be able to absorb as many nutrients. You will need to start taking multivitamins for your body to recuperate from the nutrient loss. Ask your surgeon what kind of multivitamins you will need to take after surgery.
- Avoid sweetened beverages and drink more water.
One of the main problems of patients after surgery is that they cannot eat or drink any sugary food or beverages. The reason for this is they experience puking, nausea, and other symptoms of dumping.
Drinking more water will not only save you from the pain, but it will also help you lose weight by giving you an early feeling of fullness. It will also keep you hydrated, and flush out all the kidney stones that may develop due to the rapid weight loss.
- Stop drinking alcohol and drink coffee in moderate amount.
Alcohol will have a different effect on your body after your bariatric surgery. You will easily get intoxicated and it can cause your blood sugar to go haywire. As a result, you will gain more weight and put yourself at high risk for several health problems.
If you cannot drink coffee without sugar or cream, then it is better for you to start drinking a high-caffeine tea with a little bit amount of honey as a substitute.
- Stop smoking and exercise more.
If you smoke, you need to stop at least 8 weeks before your surgery to minimize the risk of lung failure, and other serious complications. In addition, studies show that those who are smoking cigarettes fail to lose weight during the preoperative stage.
Ideally, you need to stay active to keep your that unwanted excess weight off. You can start slowly and do things you enjoy. As much as possible, you should exercise at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. This will help you lose weight before surgery and reduce the risk of complications.
We understand that these habits are not easy to follow, which is why you should start training yourself now. Remember to be more patient and gentle with yourself. Practice meditation, forgiveness, and self-management. As you slowly start doing the small changes in your life for the next couple of days, weeks, and months, the adjustments will be easier.
For more information and assistance, you can always read more from our website and contact us freely.