When it comes to bariatric surgery, we often focus on the physical results — the ability to move more easily, fit better into clothing, and become a healthier version of ourselves. But weight-loss surgery isn’t just physical. It affects your body, mind and spirit. So how do you mentally prepare for such a drastic change?
Leading bariatric surgeon Christian Birkedal, MD offers four tips to get you on the path to a successful surgery and recovery.
1. Be Realistic
After weight-loss surgery, it’s tempting to compare yourself with others who have also gone through it. “But every person loses weight at different rates,” explains Dr. Birkedal.
It’s common to experience weight-loss plateaus at times. Dr. Birkedal suggests “pledging to keep a positive attitude and focusing only on what you can control. Take lots of pictures and measurements before and after surgery to help you see how far you’ve come.”
Talking to your doctor ahead of time about what outcomes are realistic — and healthy — for your unique body is key.
2. Build Coping Skills
Food can be a coping method for many reasons — stress, sadness and boredom may be a few. But after surgery, you won’t be able to turn to food for comfort.
Dr. Birkedal says, “be prepared to grieve this loss and work on building other coping strategies before surgery.”
For example, you can try replacing needless snacking with:
- A new hobby
- Calling a friend
- Coloring or another hands-on craft
- Taking a walk
Talking to your doctor as well as other bariatric surgery patients about what strategies work best can help you make a plan.
3. Nurture Relationships
Losing weight can change how you think about yourself and how others think about you. Keep in mind, some people will be more supportive than others.
“Remember to maintain open communication with loved ones throughout the process and be ready to seek counseling and support if you need help navigating changing relationships after surgery,” reminds Dr. Birkedal. “You deserve to be happy as a whole person — body, mind and spirit.”
4. Choose How You Want to Socialize
From backyard barbeques to holiday gatherings, food takes center stage in many social interactions. You might feel sad or left out when you can’t participate the same way as before. That’s why it’s important to prepare for these situations before you face them after surgery.
“Identify what you may need to do differently at social gatherings, such as bringing your own healthy dish or eating before you go,” suggests Dr. Birkedal.
Bariatric and Metabolic Care at AdventHealth
The process before, during and after bariatric surgery can seem overwhelming, but our team is dedicated to providing compassionate whole-person care every step of the way.
You can learn more about the comprehensive services of the AdventHealth Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery program and schedule a convenient virtual consultation here.