What You Need to Know
For thousands of individuals dealing with the health repercussions of obesity, weight is not just an issue of vanity—it’s a matter of life and death. Thanks to advances in medicine over the last few decades, patients suffering from severe weight-related health issues can find relief with a variety of common bariatric weight loss procedures.
As with any other major medical commitment, bariatric surgery is not something you should jump into blindly. In this article, we’ll share 10 things you should know before you have your initial consultation for weight loss surgery in Houston.
1. Bariatric surgery won’t fix everything, but the results are worth your efforts.
Rarely is a medical procedure a quick fix, and this is especially true when it comes to weight loss. Even with a full gastric bypass, patients who follow their doctor’s diet and exercise plan after surgery can expect to lose about 60-80% of their excess weight. Once the weight loss stops, they’ll need to put in additional work to hit a healthy goal weight. When that milestone is reached, however, the feelings of accomplishment, health, and vitality are incredibly rewarding.
2. Your surgeon may ask you to meet certain physical criteria or undergo a psychological evaluation before surgery.
In some cases, you may be asked to lose a percentage of your current weight or see a psychologist for a mental health evaluation before your surgeon will sign off on the procedure. Typically, these requests are made to ensure that the procedure can be performed safely and that you are fully mentally prepared for its permanent results.
Whether or not you will be asked to meet these requirements before surgery depends greatly on the kind of procedure you’re requesting, your current weight, and any history of mental health concerns. If you come to us for laparoscopic surgery in Houston, our doctors will talk with you one-on-one about what’s best for your situation.
3. The first year can be weird, but things get easier from there.
The first year after surgery is where you’ll see the majority of weight loss, and it may be overwhelming at first. You’ll also have to go through some weird dietary phases, such as an all-liquid phase after surgery, followed by a slow build-up to solid foods. You might feel like a baby learning how to eat all over again, but don’t worry: Brighter days and regular foods are ahead!
There will be a lot of changes happening to your mind, body, and habits, all at once, and it can be exhausting. Fortunately, this period only happens once, and you will eventually learn how to properly manage the unique needs of your post-op digestive system.
4. After surgery, eating will present new challenges—and new opportunities.
Because bariatric surgery changes the way your digestive system works, you won’t be able to eat the same way you did before. This is true not only because your stomach will be smaller, but also because your body will react differently to food in general. Chewing carefully and choosing the best foods will become especially important.
In gastric bypass patients, for example, a common side effect is something called “dumping syndrome,” in which sugary food enters the small intestine before it is properly digested, leading to a flushing of the intestines that may be accompanied by fast heartbeats, sweating, nausea, and diarrhea.
It’s not all bad news, however; this is also an opportunity to change your eating habits completely and start building a healthier diet from scratch.
5. Reduced food intake means you’ll need to plan your diet and supplements carefully.
Any time you physically restrict the amount of food you’re able to eat, you’re going to face unique challenges when it comes to making sure you get the right nutrition. Because you will no longer be able to eat as much as you would normally, you have fewer opportunities to get the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function properly.
As part of your post-operative plan, your doctor will provide you with nutritional guidance and may even recommend certain supplements. If your body does not get what it needs, you may suffer from symptoms of malnutrition like hair loss, anemia, and poor immune response. As long as you follow your doctors’ orders and make it a point to meet your daily nutritional needs, you’ll continue to be in good health.
6. You may want to start preparing now for future surgeries related to your rapid weight loss.
The life-saving changes brought on by bariatric surgery are wonderful, but, because your skin has been stretched and may not easily “bounce back” after weight loss, you may also need to address issues of excess and/or sagging skin once the initial significant loss is over. the good news is many patients do not need to have surgery for that, but some need to consider plastic body contouring surgeries.
7. You’ll still have to be mindful of what you eat to achieve the best results.
Not being able to eat as much doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you want without consequences. Even if your stomach capacity is restricted to four ounces, it’s still relatively easy to go through several bottles of sugary soda and handfuls of easily digested high-calorie snacks (both of which can cause patients to gain weight after surgery). If you want to see the most efficient results and avoid malnutrition, you’ve still got to apply healthy eating habits.
8. Review your insurance policies and be prepared financially for what’s not covered.
Before you go in, make sure you understand your insurance coverage and what it can provide.
Depending on your insurance company and your plan’s coverage, certain aspects may or may not be covered. For example, an insurance company might cover the cost of life-saving bariatric surgery, but deny claims for a tummy tuck procedure, despite the fact that it is being done as part of a reconstructive procedure. Knowing this well ahead of surgery can help you make a plan for covering those costs in the future.
9. Hitting a weight plateau is normal (and it doesn’t mean you’re done losing weight).
At some point, your weight loss will probably slow down quite a bit, eventually leveling out and staying at a certain weight. In some cases, this happens well before one’s goal weight and can be frustrating.
Don’t panic: This is simply a plateau—a point at which your body adjusts to what you’ve been doing and naturally starts to maintain a certain weight. This is a normal part of weight loss (with or without bariatric surgery) that can be overcome by changing up your diet and exercise routine to kick-start your body into losing weight again.
10. The key to long-term success is building a healthier relationship not only with food but with yourself.
While bariatric surgery can change the size of your stomach and alter the function of your digestive system, it can’t heal existing problems you have with food or with yourself. For this reason, it’s important to connect with a mental health professional and/or peer support group to help you build a healthier self-image and work on any emotional issues you may have with food, such as eating to self-medicate. Don’t just focus on improving your physical health—take care of your mental health, too.
Looking for Obesity Help in Houston, TX? Trust the Experts at Bariatric Care Centers
At our specialized center for bariatrics in Houston, we know that your struggles with weight are about so much more than just the way you look. Our surgeons are experts in the medical science behind obesity and weight loss, and we’re committed to helping you not only save your life but change it permanently for the better.
Whether you’re just starting to consider having bariatric surgery in Houston or are looking for a top surgeon to revise a previous lap band surgery, Bariatric Care Centers have the dedication and expertise you can trust. Call us today at 713-339-1353 to schedule a free, one-on-one consultation.
Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles, post, or video. Every patient has individual needs and limitations that only their treating physicians can be aware of.
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