Instant gratification seems to rule the world, and weight loss surgery (WLS) can seem like the greatest quick fix. People that have gone through WLS can tell you however, this journey is anything but easy. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to be honest. Before you decide that weight loss surgery is right for you, check out my list of things you might not know about weight loss surgery.
Weight Loss Surgery Is Not Quick
In order to qualify for weight loss surgery, patients are put through rigorous testing and classes. The exact tests and classes required vary with insurance plans. As an example, my program required two nutritional courses as well as one exercise class. Some insurance plans also require that a patient be on a medically supervised diet with regular check ins for six to twelve months. If during that time they determine that a legitimate effort is not being made they will disqualify you from surgery. I was able to get my surgery fairly quickly after starting the process and it still took me four months of preparation.
Most programs, including mine, have the patient do a liquid diet for 2 week pre-op. This diet helps shrink the liver and prepare the body for surgery. For a great look at my programs requirements, check out my friend Amy’s page. She did a fantastic job outlining her daily regiment and is very honest about her success!
The surgery itself lasted three hours (gastric bypass RNY) and it took about two months before I started to feel like myself again. I am 3 1/2 months post-op at the time of writing this article and still have digestive problems that may never go away. *Edit: At 8 months post-op most of my digestive issues have resolved. If you are looking for something fast, perhaps for an upcoming event, weight loss surgery is not for you.
WLS Is Only for Those who are Very Obese
What does very obese mean? Most insurance plans will only approve weight loss surgery for those with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 35 IF they have two co-morbidities. Examples of this would be asthma, diabetes or sleep apnea, although there are others as well. If you do not have co-morbidities your BMI must be over 40. I had a BMI of 42.5 when I decided to apply for surgery, and to give you an idea I was roughly 120 pounds heavier than I should have been. If you have 50 or less pounds to lose, you are likely not a candidate for weight loss surgery.
That’s right! When a person who has had weight loss surgery tells people they lost the weight by eating right and exercising they are not lying. The surgery changes a patient’s body but not the mind. If that person begins to eat the same foods they did before surgery, they can and will regain the weight.
It is ultimately up to each patient to decide how successful the surgery will be for them. That differs quite a bit from other surgeries where the success can be determined on the operating table. That doesn’t mean that you can never have delicious food though! Facebook’s Bariatric Foodie is a great resource, and teaches people to “play with your food”. You can also find great ideas for healthy and bariatric friendly food on pinterest. Do a bit of research and you’ll find amazing resources for food that’s not only bariatric but family friendly. A friend of mine, Susanne, became a foodie after surgery and creates her own recipes.
Psychiatric Evaluations Are Required
All insurance carriers require that pre-op weight loss patients receive psychological evaluations. This ensures that a patient will be able to cope with the high amount of stress post operatively. There is also a high risk of alcohol or drug dependency for patients who used food as a drug. The evaluation helps prevent people with existing problems from getting a surgery that could make issues much worse. Understanding the procedure is required so that patients can make all changes required. The evaluation is helpful letting patients know where they are weakest when it comes to habits as well.
People are going to judge your choice
I am quite proud of the fact that I had a gastric bypass. In my mind, it’s about taking control of my health. Getting surgery was a very scary and life altering choice, but not everyone will be supportive of that choice. Some people think it’s taking the easy way out. Others wait for the WLS patient to regain weight so that they can say (or think) “I told you so”. When I tell people, some people tend to say “Oh” in that tone that implies “So you didn’t do it yourself…I’m not proud of you anymore”. People can say or think what they want, but I’ll forever be proud of my choice. It takes a brave and disciplined person to undergo a drastic surgery to improve their quality of life, and make healthier choices.
Have more questions?
If you have any questions feel free to comment below. I’ll also respond to private messages regarding weight loss surgery. Whether or not you have weight loss surgery is a very personal decision that many people choose to keep private. You can find additional information at Bariatric Eating.
At 8 months post op I am down 105 lbs. While the weight is coming off slowly and intentionally at this point, I hope to lose another 15-20 pounds.
I hope this helped you decide whether or not weight loss surgery may be an option for you. Remember to take your time and do your research. Weight loss surgery has many different options and is not a one size fits all solution. While this was absolutely the right decision for me, it may not be the tool for you. Speak to a bariatric surgeon, and go to bariatric support groups so you can fully understand what types of struggles exist after surgery.