Following Doctor’s Orders: Why You Need to Now More Than Ever
By John S. Lambert, MD
Susan G. was a typical new patient: 47, overweight, but full of hope for a slimmer future. Her big smile indicated that she was extremely upbeat and optimistic about the prospect of losing a lot of weight. However, during her first few follow-up visits after surgery, I reminded her that she had a lot of hard work ahead. If there was ever a time for her to follow doctor’s orders, this was it.
“It is very important that you follow everything I tell you from here on out.” I said. “You must comply with not only the lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, but you must comply by keeping ALL appointments with your bariatric center for life.”
First off, you must be checked for vitamin and mineral deficiencies regularly. It is very important to monitor your levels of protein, iron, vitamins, and trace element levels by having annual lab work. If you are deficient in one or more of these, your doctor will be able to put you on supplements as needed. You also need to be compliant by taking your recommended vitamins and protein supplements.
Secondly, you have to make some permanent lifestyle changes. Making the recommended improvements concerning diet and exercise is a lifelong commitment. You will need to begin an exercise routine to increase your weight loss and then later to maintain your weight. Without a healthy diet and regular exercise, you may not lose weight, or you could regain your weight.
Thirdly, you must make and keep regular follow-up appointments. Seeing your doctor for yearly checkups is one thing you must do. Not only is it a time to have lab work done, it is a time for evaluation on how you are doing with your lifestyle changes. If you have been gaining some weight, it will give your doctor a chance to evaluate why. It also gives you a chance to ask any questions or voice any concerns that you may have.
Without following your doctor’s instructions, you could regain weight you’ve already worked hard to lose—and even worse, your health could deteriorate in many ways with conditions such as anemia, decreased protein, low vitamin levels, and ulcers. So, I want to encourage you: keep your appointments, follow your doctor’s advice, and live life to the fullest!