Have you been 100 pounds overweight for more than a year? Have you tried most of the popular diets and lost some weight just to have it return? And each time this happened, you gained a few additional pounds. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, you are not alone.
After several years of this repeated pattern, you may now be considering weight loss surgery as an option for losing the unhealthy excess weight. Weight loss surgery can be a great tool for getting to a healthier weight when all else has failed. Bariatric surgery can help eliminate many of the medical conditions that often accompany obesity.
There are several types of weight loss surgical procedures. Some are invasive and will require a hospital stay and recovery period that can last up to 6 weeks. The LAP-BAND® usually requires a one day hospital stay and most patients can return to work in a week. It is important to understand the different type of bariatric procedures, because some have a much better success rate than others.
The price for bariatric procedure vary with the most invasive being the most expensive. Many insurance companies will cover at least part of the procedure considering that it often reduces future obesity related medical costs. The average cost gastric bypass surgery is $23,000. The gastric sleeve procedure runs $14,500 and the LAP-BAND® is about $14,000. There are also several companies that will finance this medical procedure at very low or no interest.
What You Should Know…
There are some foods you may never be able to eat again
Depending on which bariatric surgical procedure you have, there may be certain foods you will never be able to eat again. Sugar can present the biggest problem. It can cause flu-like symptoms and general stomach/intestinal pain. Some people will have discomfort after anything high in processed carbohydrates. It is recommended that you eat a high protein low-carb diet. If you choose to eat things that are not recommended, tread lightly. I can eat almost anything, but that does not mean that some of these foods do not make me feel bad. Foods high in sugar make me feel the worst.
Gastric bypass surgery can result in certain nutritional deficiencies due to a large part of the stomach being bypassed. It is important to follow post-op instructions completely and take bariatric vitamins. You may be given a number of medications for the first year to help keep your nutrient levels as correct as possible. Take the time to make sure you eat healthy, so that your body can make the most of the food you are putting into and see your doctor regularly. I did not have any long-term nutritional deficiencies. Today, I take only a multivitamin that can be bought over the counter at the drugstore.
Dumping syndrome is when undigested food from the stomach rapidly enters the small bowel, which is not prepared to accommodate it. This is then rushed, or dumped, into the intestines with a lot of fluid. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it is very common. Fortunately, this is not a condition that I deal with, but I know people that are bothered by it many years after surgery.
Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix
Many people think that you go and have surgery and a few months later you are thin. While you will lose weight very quickly in the first 3 months, weight loss will slow over time. Most weight loss resulting from the surgery will take 12 – 18 months. There will come a time where there will be consequences for bad decisions. Having weight loss surgery can give you your life back, but it is up to you to live it healthy.
You may go through a mental withdrawal from food addiction
Let’s face it…most people that opt for weight loss surgery have an addiction to food. With addiction recovery, there can be a physical withdrawal. This happens with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc. With food, you may feel mildly depressed. Food used to give most of us great pleasure and now, the pleasure of being able to eat as much of whatever we wanted is now gone. The other part of mental withdrawal is the dreams. A person recovering from a substance will often dream (during sleep) that they drank, used or smoked. About a week after surgery, I remember dreaming that I was at a beautiful buffet and could not eat. Then you wake up and realize it isn’t real.
You will have to make changes in your lifestyle
It is important to understand that you cannot drop 100 pounds and go back to doing what you were doing before. You will gain the weight back. A lifestyle change is required. Many bariatric surgical centers require 3 – 6 months of pre-surgery education. This education will help you understand what to expect after surgery and what changes you will need to make in your eating habits. Many of these programs will get you thinking about the root cause that led to the overeating. Additionally, many pre-surgery programs will require you to go on a low-calorie diet and begin losing weight to qualify for surgery.
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of being successful at losing the weight and keeping it off is to see a counselor. A professional experienced at helping people deal with why they overeat will help you sort through the emotions and redirect them in a manner other than eating. Joining a support group is one of the best forms of aftercare. The surgery center that I used has a group for people that had their surgery less than a year ago and another group for surgical patients that were a year past their surgery date.
Having weight loss surgery is a huge step in a person’s life. It can be a whole new beginning for many, but it is important to understand it will take work and lifestyle changes before surgery as well as for the rest of your life following the surgery. Do I feel I made the correct decision in having weight loss surgery? The answer is…yes. Losing the weight allowed me to feel like I had a certain amount of control in my life. Has it been easy?…Not for a minute.