During your bariatric surgery journey, surround yourself with a supportive network of professionals, family, friends, and fellow patients for support and encouragement. This section offers a compilation of resources. When it comes to weight-loss surgery, always remember you’re not alone.
For some, obesity can be a lifelong struggle with no amount of healthy eating or exercise resulting in drastic weight loss. For many, weight-loss surgery can help turn their life around and help them start living again. You’ve probably talked with your doctor about your weight before and various health-related issues, especially if you have type 2 diabetes1.
If you have struggled with losing the excess weight on your own through various weight loss strategies, you and your doctor should discuss the possibility of weight-loss surgery. Your body mass index (BMI) and weight takes its toll on your health, and it’s time you took your future into your own hands. Your doctor is there to support you and help you reach a healthier you with the right weight-loss program.
Talking to your doctor means asking smart questions. Your doctor's answers and expertise can help you decide if weight-loss surgery is right for you. Some guiding questions follow and will help you begin this important discussion.
Taking a stand against obesity means including your family and loved ones. Talk to them about your weight loss management goals, how you want to live, and why you want to make this change. You’re not in this alone. You need your family by your side for support and encouragement. Your family is an essential part in making the right decision for you.
Family members may not understand the lifelong battle you’ve been fighting with various weight loss strategies. Talk about what the surgery means to you. Remind them of past examples of weight loss programs failing and the importance of bettering your quality of life. Have an open discussion about the commitment you’re willing to make to this now.
Explaining the positive side of weight-loss surgery and behavioral therapy can help family members understand what it means to you and the positive outcomes it can produce. Weight-loss surgery will not only better your quality of life, it can have a positive effect on your loved ones too. In 95% of patients, quality of life was improved. And long-term mortality from diseases related to obesity were reduced by 30-40% in patients.2 Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, sleep apnoea, asthma, osteoarthritis, and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) are just a few of the issues that can see positive progress with weight-loss surgery.
Surround yourself with people who understand and support your goals. Whether it’s a phone call, a visit, or a letter, their help will guide you every step of the way.
Your family may be worried about your overall well-being and whether surgery is the right choice. Explain to your family members that you will not be alone during the process. You will have a complete team at your disposal, which will help you plan a lifetime of care. With your family by your side, you will be that much stronger.
Your choice to begin a new chapter in life is not something you have to face alone. Standing up to obesity is a team effort — before, during, and after the procedure. A team approach fosters a supportive environment in which you can gain knowledge and compassion.
Having experts on your side can help you understand the entire process, as they answer questions and keep you informed of what to expect on your weight loss journey. With the same end goal in mind, your team stands at the ready to help you get there.
Bariatric surgery is not a quick or simple process. That’s why you will want to assemble a team you can trust throughout the process. These are relationships that extend long after the procedure is complete. These are the individuals who will be by your side. They’re the ones who will enable you to succeed.
In the months leading up to surgery, you will have gathered information, met with experts, evaluated insurance options, and proactively made lifestyle changes to diet and exercise. With the surgery date set, it’s time to make final preparations for surgery.
Your future does not start after the surgery. It starts now. Since your BMI is a major deciding factor in weight-loss surgery, diet and exercise are extremely important. Beginning an exercise program before your surgery is the best time for your weight-loss plan. The sooner you begin exercising, the easier it will be after you have surgery. Start by moving more.
Be sure to measure your blood sugar before, during, and after exercising, and always have insulin at your disposal.
Now is also the time to work on your diet and nutrition. Have a discussion with your doctor regarding your weight-loss diet, what weight-loss foods are essential, and how to make sure you are getting the right vitamins and minerals. Discuss weight-loss meals before and after surgery.
Be sure your surgeon is aware of all medicines and supplements you are taking.
At your pre-operative appointment, your surgeon will give you specific instructions to follow. You may only drink clear liquids, such as water, coffee, tea, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, clear soup, clear iceblocks, clear soft drink, and jelly. After midnight the day before surgery, you cannot take anything by mouth except medications approved by the anaesthetist and surgeon. Your stomach must be completely empty at the start of the procedure.
If you are ill before surgery with a cold, persistent cough, fever, skin breakdown, or any changes in your condition, please notify the surgeon immediately. You will then need to be re-evaluated for surgical readiness. Your bariatric surgeon wants you to be in the best possible shape for anaesthesia.
It is recommended that you shower in the morning on the day of surgery. Do not use any moisturisers, creams, lotions, or makeup. Remove jewellery and do not wear nail polish. You may wear dentures, but you will need to remove them just prior to surgery.
When you go to the hospital, just bring the essentials, such as:
Typically, bariatric surgery patients can expect to return to work in about 2 to 4 weeks. This schedule can vary from person to person. The time you take from work can depend on a variety of things:
Be aware that you are not just recovering from weight-loss surgery; you are going to be eating very little and losing weight rapidly. You’ll need time to get to know your new digestive system, rest, get proper nutrition, exercise, understand behavioral therapy.
Support groups are an integral part of the healing process, physically and emotionally. All patients are encouraged to incorporate a support group into their monthly schedule.
If you live with a person who is obese, you play a vital support role. You have likely observed their everyday challenges and struggles with some of life’s basics. While most people enjoy going to the movies, playing with children, and buying new clothes, those struggling with obesity may find these ordinary routines are often challenging undertakings. In gaining a holistic view of obesity, the caregiver has the opportunity to make patients aware of all options to stand up to obesity, including weight-loss surgery.
It’s important for caregivers of people with obesity to understand exactly what they’re going through. The impact of obesity is medical, but also social, physical, psychological, and economic. The psychological impact of obesity can include depression, low self-esteem, social isolation, being uncomfortable in public, intimacy, and decreased libido. Behavioral therapy in combination with bariatric surgery can help patients achieve healthier weights.
Behavioral therapy for obesity was developed from the dated belief that obesity was the result of eating and exercise habits. Today, researchers realise that body weight is affected by factors other than behavior. The causes of obesity can include genetic, environmental, and behavioral factors. Patients seek surgery because their health conditions are progressing. It’s not only about their appearance.
As a caregiver, your knowledge of the complexities of obesity will enable you to provide better care in support of your patient.
ADS 2016. Australia Diabetes Society Guidelines, The Australian Obesity Management Algorithm, 2016. https://diabetessociety.com.au/docu
Bariatric and Metabolic Institute. Cleveland Clinic. Available from: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/ccf/media/Files/BMI/BMI-Fact-Sheet.pdf?la=en.