The decision to have weight loss surgery requires thoughtful consideration and approval from your care team. Being a good candidate, however, is only part of the preparation you need for a successful outcome.
Experienced bariatric surgeon Dr. Michael Sutker, at our offices in Dallas and McKinney, Texas, offers minimally invasive bariatric surgeries, such as gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, to protect your health well into the future.
Effectively preparing for your procedure ensures you get the best results while reducing stress and your risk of complications. Consider the following six tips to help you mentally prepare for your surgery.
1. Set realistic expectations
While it can be life-changing, bariatric surgery is not a quick fix or magical cure for weight problems. Weight loss after surgery takes time, and there’s no way to predict how you’ll look or weigh in the future. Rather than imagine a “perfect” version of you, expect to follow a detailed meal plan to gradually reduce your weight.
With realistic expectations, dedication, and support, you can expect to see dramatic changes within about six months. From there, you might need to work through a plateau to achieve your final weight range goal.
2. Don’t go it alone
Weight loss isn’t generally easy for most people, especially when significant lifestyle changes are involved. Rather than attempt to follow your post-surgical plan alone, lean on loved ones and our team for support.
You may also benefit from joining a bariatric support group. Such a group can bring comfort in knowing you’re not alone, help you learn additional coping skills, and give you important perspectives from peers you relate to.
3. Address emotional eating
Eating to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression often plays a role in obesity. And while you may feel emotional benefits from knowing you’re doing something proactive and courageous to improve your weight, the surgery won’t change your habits or coping mechanisms.
Steps that may help address emotional eating include:
- Keeping primarily nutritious food nearby
- Mindfulness exercises
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Going for a walk, journaling, or talking to a friend when cravings set in
Eating for emotional reasons isn’t always problematic, but it’s important to notice when you overdo it so that you can find alternative ways to cope with those feelings. And if you occasionally eat more than you’d like for emotional reasons, forgive yourself and move on, keeping in mind that no one eats perfectly.
4. Continue to work on your body image
If you’ve struggled with weight issues for years or decades, your body image may have suffered for some time. Given that history, having weight loss surgery doesn’t mean you automatically love what you see in the mirror. Your self-image may even be distorted, due to dysmorphia – or an obsession with your perceived “flaws.”
Practices that may help improve your body image include:
- Dressing in clothes that fit you well
- Distancing yourself from people who fixate on appearances or weight
- Practicing gratitude for what your body does for you, versus how it looks
If you're struggling with poor body image, talking to a therapist may help.
5. Stay optimistic
There are many reasons to maintain a positive mindset about your upcoming surgery. For one, bariatric surgery brings a high success rate of around 80% for most people, so your odds of a positive outcome are good. And if you struggle to lose weight or keep it off following your procedure, our team can help troubleshoot to get you back on track.
Other potential benefits of weight loss surgery include a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). You may also experience improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved energy, and better sleep quality.
6. Stay in touch with our team
Dr. Sutker and his team can only help you if you keep in touch with them. To do so, schedule recommended follow-up exams and call our office if a challenge unfolds. We’re also here to help monitor your successes and guide you toward weight maintenance once you reach your goal.
To learn more about weight loss surgery or find out if you’re a good candidate, call our office or request an appointment through our website.