Your Expectations: What Bariatric Surgery Can Or Cannot Do For You

Contributed by Dato' Dr Tikfu Gee

As a person living with morbid obesity, you already know that there’s a significant psychological impact due to your health issues.  Your social interactions are different because your self esteem is probably lowered by embarrassment and shame.  Your social activity is hampered by your physical limitations.  Even your means of transportation might be limited, as it’s hard to drive, get on a bus, or walk anywhere. So it will come as no surprise that your recovery period from bariatric surgery will see some changes in your lifestyle, physically and psychologically.


What to Expect From Bariatric Surgery


Pace of Weight Loss

Provided you follow healthy diet guidelines and slowly increase your regular physical activity, you will see some pretty rapid weight loss at first. During the first few months, weight will seem to fall off you very easily.  This provides wonderful motivation for all the hard work you’ll be doing…a new way of eating, healthy living, and more exercise.  This total change in the way you live your life is very dramatic. Here’s what you must prepare yourself for:  the pace of your weight loss will eventually slow down.  The weight should continue to come off, but not as fast as it did at first. Therefore, it’s very important to prepare yourself ahead of time to expect that to happen.  Don’t become discouraged when the pace of weight loss slows down…keep on your healthy eating regimen, your exercise schedule, and everything else you’ve done to positively change your life.

Support Groups

Joining a support group can help you temper your expectations.  By listening to the real life stories of fellow patients who’ve had bariatric surgery, you’ll know what lies ahead.  This should help you set those achievable goals mentioned above.  You’ll learn what bariatric surgery can and can’t do..for real. Also, by hearing the frustrations of others, and how they worked through their obstacles, you can better prepare yourself for your own weight loss journey.

Achievable Goals

This goes hand in hand with the pace of weight loss- don’t get too accustomed to the way the kilos just seem to melt off at first.  Set your weight loss goals accordingly- and smaller-as time goes by. If you set goals based on your rapid rate of weight loss during the first few  months, you’ll only be serving to set yourself up for failure later on.  Your body won’t keep up that pace, so set your goals smaller. Also, set your exercise goals according to your baseline.  If before surgery you hardly ever moved at all, then start simply by getting yourself around the house, then up the stairs, then around the street or the garden, then longer walks, then more aerobic activities. Finally, work up your small goals to bigger things like cycling, swimming and other physical activities you enjoy.  Don’t start out by setting an impossible goal of jogging by month six.

Worst Case Scenario

It’s sad but true: sometimes weight loss surgery just doesn’t work.  Either that, or it doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped.  But you knew this going in, since this knowledge is part of the initial consultation process. If you had a band put in place, sometimes that band can slip.  That’s just one of the things that can go wrong.  Something can always go wrong during surgery too, resulting in a failure to lose weight. All these scenarios are in the minority, however, but you should be aware of what can happen.  This provides to soften the blow if you do indeed find out that surgery didn’t produce the results you’d hoped for. The important thing here is to see your doctor the minute you feel that something isn’t right.  It’s possible that with proper care or medical attention you may be able to do some damage control and gradually get back on track after the issues are resolved with your doctor.  That’s why it is VERY important for you to engage a very experienced bariatric specialist.


Set Yourself Up For Success

If you’ve read everything up to now, you should have a good idea of what bariatric surgery can and can’t do for you.  It will jump-start your weight loss journey, but you are the one to continue it.

As far as numbers go, many patients see up to 50% loss of their excess body fat (not their entire weight) in the first six months.  After about two years, you can see up to 75% loss of the excess body fat…if you maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen. The whole idea behind achievable goals, realistic expectations, and group support is to stay motivated.  The worst thing you can do is become discouraged simply because you didn’t have your expectations set up correctly.

By knowing how things will progress, that it take a lot of time, patience and work, you can set smart goals and win in the long term.  That means you’ll shed the weight, stay healthy, and keep the weight off for years to come.

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