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If you are overweight or obese and are considering your weight loss surgery options, the first step of the process is ensuring you’re a good candidate. Your evaluation will be undertaken by a team of medical professionals. Your doctor and surgeon, as well as a psychologist and dietitian, will all conduct independent evaluations to ensure your medical readiness.

woman showing a banner with the text weight loss surgery

Current Health Level

There are several guidelines that have been put in place by surgeons and insurance companies to evaluate your medical and psychological readiness for surgery. Typically, the first guideline that identifies good candidates for weight loss surgery is their weight and health level. More specifically, a person with a BMI of 40 or above, or who is over 100 pounds overweight, could qualify for weight loss surgery.

The same is true of those whose BMI is 35 or greater that accompanied by conditions including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea or other respiratory disorders
  • Type II diabetes
  • Hypertension

Teenagers who have already gone through puberty and whose BMIs are 35 or greater with serious health issues related to their obesity may be candidates. Finally, if your efforts have not allowed you to achieve a healthy weight or sustain this weight loss over time, you may be eligible for the surgical weight loss procedure as well.

Some people whose BMI is between 30 and 34 who have serious health issues related to their weight may also qualify for surgery.

Existing Conditions That Can Interfere with Surgery

Patients who are too obese for the procedure will likely be instructed by their surgeon to lose weight prior to surgery. This is because the excess weight can make surgery more risky.

In addition, some physical issues may become worse as the result of the procedure, thereby increasing patient risk. Kidney stones, nutritional deficiencies, and blood clots are some of the conditions which can pose an increased risk for patients. a full health evaluation is conducted prior to surgery to quantify patient’s risk level for more informed decision.

Your History and Habits

Evaluation includes obtaining information about your weight history as well as your nutrition. You’ll be asked about your eating habits, as well as the number of attempts you’ve made to change your diet. Your motivation to lose weight, your stress level, and time constraints will be evaluated, as will your current regimen for exercise.

The team will want to know whether you smoke or drink and will ask you what medications you take if any. Lab tests and a physical exam, E.K.G, and in some instances evaluation for sleep apnea, will be completed.

What You’ve Already Done

The effort you’re making before surgery will matter and be considered by your team. You will have time period prior to surgery that you can use to start making changes for the better. You’ll want to concentrate on things like getting some exercise and eating healthier foods.

In addition to what you’ve already done, you’ll be evaluated on your willingness to continue healthy eating and exercise following surgery. It’s important to understand that although gastric bypass surgery or Gastric sleeve surgery will allow you to lose weight quickly and effectively, it is not a cure-all; you will still be expected to make diet and lifestyle changes to support better health.

Psychological Readiness

There are a few things that the psychologist on your team will evaluate to determine your readiness for surgery. This is important because you need to be able to be psychologically healthy enough to make the necessary changes before and after surgery.

For example, a patient who has been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, and not received appropriate care and counseling, may not be a good candidate, as they may not be able to handle the changes  following surgery in a healthy way. It may be that some counseling is needed to help a surgery candidate through the process, as well as to help reconcile the new person they will soon see in the mirror.

The same is true for those diagnosed with any kind of addiction. Unresolved addiction can result in what’s known as addiction replacement. A food addict may turn to another addictive substance to replace the food they can no longer eat. Any drive to become addicted can lead to the formation of unhealthy habits following surgery.

It’s a very common practice for weight loss surgery candidates to receive counseling both before and after surgery. Again, this type of procedure can have many positive changes for recipients, and it’s important to understand the emotions you may experience following surgery.

an older doctor talking with his female patient

What to Expect After Surgery

Part of your medical team includes a dietitian, who will assist you before surgery with your nutritional needs. However, they will also be there after surgery to assist you with your post-surgery diet.

Why do you need to adopt a particular diet after weight reduction surgery? Because your stomach will need to heal. Additionally, your stomach cannot be stretched by food during this time; the goal is to maintain its new, smaller size. You will also need to become accustomed to eating portions that are small enough for your smaller stomach to digest safely. A new diet is also required so that you don’t gain weight or experience post-surgery complications or side effects.

What a Post-Surgery Diet Looks Like

No two post-surgery diets will be completely alike; what your dietitian recommends will depend on the evaluations done by other members of your medical team. However, what will be the same in all diets is that it will occur in stages. In every stage, you’ll have to ensure you don’t become dehydrated, and so will need to drink 64 ounces of fluid daily.

Liquids, Slow Eating, and Other Requirements

Liquids will have to be sipped between, and not with, meals. You will need to wait 30 minutes before a meal to drink, and 30 minutes after. Food must be chewed slowly and thoroughly, and liquids consumed slowly to avoid these entering your small intestine too rapidly and causing dumping syndrome, which can cause symptoms including dizziness, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Lean foods rich in protein will also need to be consumed at each stage, as well as low-sugar and low-fat foods and drinks. Alcohol will need to be avoided and caffeine limited. Your dietitian will recommend that you take vitamin and mineral supplements each day.

high protein food with supplement powders smoothies and fruit

Pureed Foods, Soft Foods, and Cautions

Pureed foods will be introduced once you’ve been able to tolerate liquids for a week or two. These foods should be in smooth paste or thick liquid form and should not contain any solid pieces of food. These foods should be consumed three to six times a day in 4 to 6 tablespoons. Each meal should take you approximately 30 minutes to consume.

After a few weeks of eating pureed foods, you will be able to begin eating soft foods like cottage cheese, eggs, and fish. These also need to be split into three to five meals daily in portions of 1 to 1 ½ cups, and you will need to stop eating before becoming totally full.

Foods like popcorn, bread, pasta, red meat, fried or spicy food, and raw vegetables need to be avoided at this stage, as they can cause vomiting, nausea, and pain. In developing these habits after surgery, you can more easily transition to a healthy way of eating that will benefit your weight loss.

In addition to creating healthy eating habits and avoiding foods that can irritate your stomach, you also need to be aware of the risks of returning to unhealthy eating habits.

Compassionate, Respectful and Dignified Care

Being a good candidate for weight loss procedures means you have an opportunity to change your life for the better. At Bariatric Care Centers, we understand that change is never easy. That’s why we’ve developed processes and programs to meet the challenges of weight loss head-on. We can help you at each point of your journey. Call us at (713) 339-1353 to learn more today.

Disclaimer: This is only for general information. All patients should consult their doctors prior to following any of the recommendations in any articles and videos. Every patient has individual needs and limitations that only their treating physicians can be aware of.