Who’s responsible for your success?
There are two key persons or groups involved in the success of weight loss surgery. The first is the WLS patient — you. The second is your surgeon and team of professionals. Each of you has your job to do, and how well you do it has a huge impact on the outcome.
What are you responsible for?
You cannot expect the surgeon to take full responsibility for your success. You cannot have the surgery and think that’s all you have to do, that the surgery by itself handles everything. There are things you can do to prepare for the surgery, changes to make immediately following the surgery, and follow-up actions to continue for long-term success.
My next blog entry will address the responsibilities of the surgeon and his/her program. But since it all begins with you, let’s first look at what I believe to be your responsibilities.
- Research the different WLS procedures, what the surgery entails for each, the type of success you can expect from each, and how it will impact what you eat and drink and your lifestyle.
- Research bariatric teams in your area and pick the best.
- Once you have chosen the surgeon, follow all of his or her instructions. Take notes during initial visits or record them. Ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand — and make sure your surgeon answers all your questions.
- Start attending support group meetings before the surgery and set up any other support network you feel you’ll need around the time of the surgery, and for the many months that follow.
- Make the lifestyle changes necessary to make your surgery as effective as possible. Some of those changes include the type of food you eat, how often you eat out and where, changing your family’s eating habits, increasing your physical activity, and changing your attitudes and behaviors around food.
- Continue to attend support group meetings for the first two or three years following your surgery — at the very least.
- Stay informed about any new developments in your type of surgery, especially changes in recommendations.
- Go to your yearly follow-up appointments, get your blood levels checked, and use your program’s resources in between your appointments.
These eight things are not just good for you to do. They are critical if you want to succeed.
A key component often ignored
I feel that this last one is a key component of long-term success that WLS patients most often ignore. It is crucial to have your blood levels checked for deficiencies.
Anyone, whether they’ve had WLS surgery or not, can have deficiencies that can make it harder to lose weight and drive down energy levels. However, this is ten times more critical for gastric bypass patients because their new bodies are less able to absorb vital nutrients.
The annual follow-up appointments are also important because you and your surgeon can together work on solutions to the challenges you are facing. He or she has knowledge and resources and experience that you don’t have. Use those resources!
The third reason for going to your follow-up appointment every year is to help others as well as for your own benefit. The WLS programs need feedback to continue helping you and to help future patients. When they are evaluating long-term effects of this surgery, they can improve their programs through feedback from patients like you.
Leave the old you behind
I know the tendency is to hide, feel shame, and not seek help when things aren’t going well. But that’s the old you. Leave that person behind!
This is exactly the time to let go of that shame or belief that you can do it alone and seek help! Step into the new person you are striving to be. WLS is all about finding new ways to live.
I know you want to succeed as badly as I do or you wouldn’t be visiting my Web site and reading these words. Grab onto your list of eight responsibilities and take them seriously!
And be sure to read my next blog entry so you know what you should expect from your surgeon and your WLS program.