Long Term Success with Bariatric Surgery
By Sara Bennett, BSN RN
Diet and exercise changes are easiest to stick to during the first year after bariatric surgery. The rapid weight loss during this period keeps you motivated. Patients are able to do more things with their family. There is often an immense improvement in depression and other obesity related conditions, such as sleep apnea, hypertension, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and joint pain. However, once weight loss goals are reached, many patients tend to slip back into bad habits such as slacking off in exercise, eating larger portions, or grazing. This puts them at high risk for regaining their weight and the obesity related conditions that may follow.
The following are some tips for long term success after bariatric surgery:
Regular appointments with the bariatric surgeon are crucial. Complications may occur when patients become complacent and miss office visits; the opportunity for early intervention is lost. It is very important for patients to take responsibility and remain accountable to their postoperative office visits.
Find a strong support system and attend support group meetings regularly. Statistics show that patients who attend bariatric support group meetings regularly have a higher success rate in losing and maintaining weight loss.
Don’t think of it as dieting but instead a lifestyle change. Dieting suggests the changes are only temporary.
Listen to your body. Be very conscious of when you are feeling full and know when to stop eating. Many patients tend to eat until their plate is empty, leaving them overly stuffed.
Take up a hobby. Find enjoyment in something other than food.
Exercise regularly. This doesn’t mean one has to attend regular aerobic classes, or even join a gym. Wear a pedometer, set a goal, and challenge yourself. Also take the stairs when able or park a short distance away from stores when shopping.
Become an expert. Research and learn everything you can about your surgery, including any educational offerings available from your bariatric program. The more that you understand bariatric surgery, the more successful you can be.
By embracing healthy lifestyle changes, one can achieve and maintain optimal weight loss and resolution of unhealthy conditions. But remember, bariatric surgery is simply a tool...not a magic pill. If you want to be successful, be ready to make changes and stick to them.