Who’s responsible for the success of your weight loss surgery?
In my last blog I said that there are two key people/groups involved in your success. First of all you, and secondly your surgeon and his/her bariatric team.
In my last blog, I talked about your responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to do your research and choose the best surgeon and program for you. A surgeon you completely trust, and a program with excellent care and phenomenal follow-up.
Do you trust your surgeon?
I remember my surgeons coming in to check up on me right before they wheeled me into the operating room. Dr. Gould asked me if I was scared. I looked up at those two masked men and gave them a big smile and said, “not at all, I know I’m in the best hands.” And I realized that I really felt like that and I wasn’t afraid at that point. Can’t have a better feeling going into major surgery!
What are your bariatric programs responsibilities?
Here’s what I see as the eight responsibilities of any WLS program.
1. Provide accurate and truthful information for those looking into the surgery, with special emphasis on the risks and the limitations of the surgery. Let patients know up front the chances of success and risks of failure and how much time and effort will be expected of them.
2. Provide at least two support groups — one for those about to have the surgery or who have just gone through the surgery and a second group for patients further out of the surgery that focuses on maintaining the appropriate weight and working to promote long-term success.
3. Inform patients about resources on all aspects of the surgery — books, websites, workshops, DVDs, speakers, patient mentors, and lectures. Follow up to make sure each patient uses these resources and provide discussion groups to help patients grasp the information.
4. Have professionals representing the psychiatric field, nutrition, exercise, and physiology easily accessible to all patients without additional cost.
5. Have a life coach either on staff or subsidized by the program to work with any patient struggling to make the necessary life changes.
6. Offer ongoing classes and workshops.
7. Offer a “back on track” program for those who are struggling with the problem of regaining weight.
8. provide a welcoming environment, free from judgment and open to all patients at all levels, especially those struggling after surgery.
This is idealistic, I know. But if we expect and demand this type of program, we can help make it happen. Don’t go to a surgery mill that’s primarily out to take your money. Lots of places can provide the surgery, but only those that really care will provide the whole package and care about your success.
A good surgeon really cares about your success
The world of bariatric surgery is evolving. Many programs are trying to improve what they offer. Many surgeons and nurses are pouring their hearts into trying to help their patients and are frustrated when the patients don’t come back for help.
Face it, we are not the easiest group of people to work with. I know I spent my life hiding and sneaking, refusing help, feeling ashamed, afraid to ask for help, and failing so many times I learned to expect it. So I know that even when the resources are there, people who need them will not always take advantage of them. But we can change that cycle.
Does the surgery guarantee success?
Remember, the surgery does not guarantee that you’ll lose all the weight you want; it’s only a tool, and it’s up to you to use that tool properly. Ultimately, our bodies are our responsibility. It’s as basic as that. See my earlier post, 8 responsibilities of a WLS patient . If we don’t do research and don’t chose a bariatric program that takes responsibility for providing many of the things listed above, then we will find it much harder to make this surgery work for us.
What has your program done that stands out and has helped you be successful? Or how has your program failed you?