Considering Weight Loss Surgery?
The decision to pursue weight loss surgery can be stressful and anxiety producing. There is a lot to know from a medical and dietary standpoint. In fact, some folks spend months or even years contemplating surgery before deciding it is the best solution for their weight issue. If you are considering weight loss surgery or have already been approved for a specific procedure, the following information may help fill in some gaps or reinforce what you already know.
Success after weight loss surgery requires changing your mindset, lifestyle and committing to regular physical activity. Do you have time to dedicate to preparing healthy food, exercising at least 150 minutes a week and taking daily supplements? Folks who are the most successful with life after weight loss surgery make these changes BEFORE they have surgery. Thus, they are already in the habit of living a healthy lifestyle before they are faced with physically healing after surgery.
What type of provider(s) should you look for?
Of course you will want to find a surgeon who is experienced in performing weight loss surgeries! Besides the obvious, make sure you select a surgeon who works alongside other health professionals who can assist you in adopting a healthy lifestyle before and after your surgery. Your surgery team should, at a minimum consist of a registered dietitian and mental health professional. You may also want to consult with a physical therapist, if you have injuries that prevent you from being physically active. Finally, finding a program that provides pre and post-surgery education and support is extremely important to give you the tools to be successful and answer questions that will arise before and after your surgery.
Post-surgery dietary guidelines
The diet after weight loss surgery is rich in lean protein while limiting simple sugars and fatty foods. To avoid any nutrient deficiencies you will be required to take lifelong vitamin and mineral supplements. As with any gastrointestinal surgery, you will be instructed to reintroduce solid foods slowly to allow the stomach and intestines time to heal. You will be given detailed instructions by the Registered Dietitian associated with your surgeon’s office outlining foods to avoid and foods to eat to ensure optimal healing and extensive weight loss. If you want to make changes now to prepare for weight loss surgery I suggest the following: cut out all soda pop (both regular and diet) and sugary beverages such as juice and energy drinks. Make a commitment to eating 3 meals a day and engage in regular planned physical activity.
Are you currently battling some anxiety or depression? Prior to having surgery, all reputable weight loss surgery programs require that you meet with a mental health professional for an intake/assessment. You will be asked about your weight history, if you have ever struggled with anxiety or depression, how you currently cope with the ups and downs of life and how you plan to manage your lifestyle after the surgery. Mental health professionals understand the delicate balance that food plays in our life. They realize that food is a double edged sword. Some days it serves as a best friend and other days a nasty enemy. As your relationship with food shifts, is there space in your life for a new and hopefully healthier relationship with food?
As with any major surgery, weight loss surgery is not without risk. Information from the Mayo clinic provides some general guidelines around risk. During your initial consult with your weight loss surgery surgeon, make sure to ask about individual risks given your unique health history.
Weight loss surgery is considered an elective procedure. This is important when looking into insurance coverage. Start by reading your medical insurance company’s Evidence of Coverage document. This outlines what services are covered and to what extent. If your medical insurance does pay for weight loss surgery, the Evidence of Coverage document lists what your co-insurance payment will be for the procedure. Insurance companies sometimes change their policies from year to year. Thus you may begin the pre-surgical process in one calendar year and actually have the surgery in the following calendar year. Make sure you understand the timeline of your surgery process and the insurance coverage on the date of your surgery.
For the right person, weight loss surgery offers an effective tool to assist in losing large amounts of weight and helping to keep it off. In order to be successful in the short and long term, dedication to a healthier lifestyle is paramount. Please see the below links for additional information. Best of luck in your weight loss journey!
Joanna is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator with a passion for supporting individuals as they move towards a healthier lifestyle.
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice.
If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.
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