What You Need to Know Before Getting a Bariatric Surgery

Undergoing bariatric – or weight loss – surgery is a major life decision, but if you are considering the procedure, chances are that you are ready to experience a total shift in your life. For individuals whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is over 35, they have a less than 1% chance of likely being able to reach a normal weight. This means that for most people who are maintaining a BMI that is technically obese, you have likely tried to control your weight with other less-drastic measures.

Do Thorough Research

It is important to undertake sufficient research so you are informed about the weight loss alternatives available to you. If you are ready to tackle your challenges head-on, you understand the risks, and feel like bariatric surgery is your best option going forward, then it’s wise to get more info from qualified professionals with years of experience. As you will need to be assured that you have the tools and knowledge of how this decision will impact the rest of your life, it is excellent that you are doing thorough research before making this decision!

Understand the Various Options

For individuals wanting ‘bariatric’ surgery, it is important to know that there are several operations that work on the stomach and/or intestine area to target obesity-related conditions that fall under this umbrella term. Let’s take a look at the most common:

Gastric Bypass

During the most intense procedure, part of your small intestine is removed to bypass this food absorption area of your digestive tract. After the operation, your ability to absorb nutrients will be compromised and you will be required to take supplements.

Gastric Sleeve or Sleeve Gastrectomy

This operation removes up to 80% of your stomach, creating a smaller, sleeve-shaped. However, though the amount of food you’re able to ingest is smaller, your nutrient absorption from food remains unimpaired.

Gastric/lap Banding

In this procedure, an adjustable, removable band is placed around the top of your stomach. Only a small section that can hold food is left. It is the safest procedure and is reversible. 

There Are Risks Involved

Most patients understand that there are always risks involved when it comes to internal surgery.

Hair Loss

Most patients do not know ahead of time, but experiencing hair loss during this major transition is normal. Around 3-4 months after surgery, hair loss is expected for up to 3 months. During this time, focus on natural vitamins and minerals in your diet to help build keratin, such as blueberries, almonds, leafy greens, and soybeans. Under the guidance of a nutritionist – or someone to help manage your dietary intake – you may also consider adding whey protein, red meat, and poultry. 

Supplement Carefully

It is crucial that you consume a bariatric-specific multivitamin. Some vitamins contain tremendously and unnecessarily high doses of certain ingredients, with some supplements, reportedly contain more than 650 times the daily allowance for biotin! Working alongside a bariatric-specialized nutritionist, you will come to learn that biotin deficiency is rare, but that low iron is very common. 

Iron Deficiency

Deficient iron levels, in addition to the resultant anemia from obesity and related chronic inflammation, affect more than two-thirds of bariatric patients. Inconclusive evidence also suggests that anemia can be linked to a micronutrient deficiency, such as copper, B12, or an imbalanced intake of zinc. Complications from compromised nutrient absorption – in addition to the risk of pouch irritation after surgery – support why bariatric-specific vitamins are needed.

Though the above-mentioned risks may sound off-putting, it is essential to mention that patients who qualify for bariatric surgery already have major immune-compromised health. Living with type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, hypertension or atherosclerotic disease significantly increases your risk of premature mortality. Therefore, it is important to realize that surgery complications are likely less harmful to your body than continuing to compromise your physical health in this way.   

You Will Need to Follow a Strict Post-procedure Diet

After bariatric surgery, the introduction to foods is a slow one. With a renewed way of digesting food, your body needs time to adjust to solid foods. For many years, there has been a specific bariatric diet protocol that helps patients adjust to post-surgery life.

Firstly, drinking small amounts of clear liquids is key for the first 4 or 5 days. This includes vegetable broth and diluted apple juice. Stage 2 of the diet comprises full liquids, including mushy foods that have a yogurt consistency. Oatmeal, applesauce, pea or mushroom soup, and soft lentils or beans are perfect during this phase, which will last for about 7-10 days. Portions should be very small, and one should try to consume a meal every 3-4 hours.

By 2 weeks post-surgery for stage 3, you can introduce your multivitamins and begin eating soft and moist foods. Stew, chickpeas, over-cooked vegetables, and lean proteins will work wonders during this phase. Lastly, you can introduce regular foods back into your diet, chewing entirely before swallowing and avoiding anything that can cause gas or bloating. There are some foods to stay away from permanently, and a qualified expert can help you through your meal plans.

What You Need to Know Before Getting a Bariatric Surgery

You Will Have Lots of Loose Skin

As you can shed up to 40% of your extra body weight, you are bound to have loose skin that appears. Be prepared for this and find some things that work for you to feel more comfortable. Though eventual skin removal might need to take place, many people use firming creams with high amounts of collagen and elastin to improve skin elasticity.

Additionally, it is important that you develop a body-affirming, positive relationship with yourself. You may never fully love your body, and your weight may remain an issue for you, but working on reducing intense hate, shame, or negative reactions when looking or thinking about your body can be incredibly empowering – mental health work that is a true act of self-love. 

A Total Lifestyle Change Is in Order

After your surgery, it is imperative that you address dietary habits to avoid weight gain. Tackle stress, comfort or emotional eating, and any unresolved trauma that might be impacting your food choices and the way you perceive your body. Hiring a nutritionist and personal trainer to assist after this major surgery can greatly optimize your weight loss results, which many people say is the most important within the first year. Take advantage of these incredible changes you will see – there is so much more to life waiting for you on the other side!

Written by George K.

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