WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY IS NOT AN EASY DECISION
Weight loss surgery can often be called "the easy way out." When in fact, it's truly anything but. In the weeks and months leading up to surgery, and after your procedure is complete, your life completely changes. There's a lot of information to remember, there's appointments and follow ups, food becomes strategic, and you're doing everything you can to give yourself the best chance with this new tool.
We've come up with a list of the top 10 things we recommend to consider when choosing weight loss surgery:
1. Insurance requirements
Insurance can be amazing when seeking weight loss surgery, it can also be a nightmare. First and foremost you want to know what kinds of procedures and programs your insurance covers. If they cover a weight loss center, but not bariatric surgery, you may need to consider alternatives or saving for your WLS. If they do cover surgery, there can be implications such as 'documented weight loss attempts under the guidance of a physician for three years' or 'low-carb diet attempted within the last 3 months.' Often these requirements include specific documentation, and sometimes even terms, that need to be noted in order for a letter from your physician to count. Knowing this up front will help you formulate a plan, as well as make a timeline of when you can expect next steps.
2. Researching your surgeon and team
When you find a surgeon who is within your insurance network, or research a surgeon that you feel comfortable paying for surgery with, make sure to look at reviews. What do other patients say? Are they a part of a team or greater group? What services do they offer? What is their program like? What is the support before and after surgery? There are many different kinds of services for bariatric patients. For example your center may include a psychological evaluation with a therapist, a bariatric exercise program, meetings with a nutritionist, support groups, etc. Make sure you have a list of questions and don't be afraid to ask them. You are your biggest advocate. If it doesn't feel right, move on and find someone else.
3. Your mental well-being
It's important to consider if you're in.a good mental space to change your relationship with food drastically. Weight loss surgery is not an easy solution, and you'll spend a lot of time getting in proper nutrients, eating for healing, and maintaining the health that you've worked so hard for. If you have any underlying conditions such as binge eating, emotional eating, reacting to stress with food, etc. you should plan to work with a specialist to resolve prior to scheduling surgery.
4. Who will be your support system?
Right after surgery it will be hard to move and you'll need someone physically able to help you in the coming days or weeks. However, there's also an emotional component to surgery. You've just had a life-changing procedure, and the next few months are about relearning your relationship with food. That undoubtedly takes an emotional toll and having a support system that you are comfortable being honest with is vital for this stage. We understand that you might not feel ready to share your surgery with your community, and you may never wish to, but having 1-2 people you can confide in is amazing. The Instagram WLS Community is also a huge support for questions, guidance, and inspiration!
5. Time off from work
Everyone's recovery time is different but it's important to check with your employer about time off of work. If you work a desk job, you may find that you need 1-2 weeks off and then feel able to return to work. If you work a manual labor job, you may need to discuss a modified schedule with your employer. Always keep in mind medical programs you may be eligible for, or ask if vacation time is required. Allowances will vary by state and place of employment. Whatever your situation, make sure to have a plan for your body to heal.
6. This is a tool, not a fix-all
It would be amazing if you woke up from surgery instantly 50 or 100 pounds lighter. If the mental work instantly paid off. In reality, this is a tool. It will only work if you put the work in. Despite what the old adage "it's the easy way out" proclaims, this is anything but easy. You'll have to put the work and commitment in, both during post-op and for the rest of your life as maintenance. This is a life-long decision towards your health.
7. Putting yourself first
So many of us get used to saying yes and putting others first. Whether at work, home, school, etc. it can be hard to prioritize what is best for you. With WLS you have to do that. You have to be prepared to advocate for the food you can have at family dinner, be prepared to prioritize your follow up appointments, make sure that there's always time for water. You have to put you first, as uncomfortable as that may feel. You're worth it!
No matter which weight loss surgery you get, you'll be on a vitamin regiment for the rest of your life. Some surgeries require more vitamins due to their malabsorption component, but each surgeon and hospital will be able to advise what they recommend. Not only will you need to commit to taking these supplements daily, but you'll need to consider the costs of vitamins and when they need to be taken (with meals, in the morning, etc.).
9. Be prepared to stall
Those first few weeks after surgery are incredible. You're losing bloating weight post-op, you're losing water weight, and you're shrinking! The scale, your buddy, is saying "good job!" And then, all of a sudden, it stops. For no reason. You've been eating your protein, your water goals are met, you're walking your halls like a boss, and yet nothing. This is perfectly normal. Your body is healing, and later in your journey it will be adjusting. The best thing to do in these moments is to put your scale away. Take photos, measure inches, focus on how you feel. So many amazing things are transforming and happening and the scale is only one way to measure them. Stalls schmalls. You've got this!
10. Everyone, and we do mean everyone, will have an opinion
Whether you decide to share or not, people are going to notice that you're losing weight. And for some absurd reason, society feels that it's ok to mention that with a "you look fantastic, what have you been doing?" or a "I haven't seen you in so long, you've lost a whole person!" Maybe even worse is the comments from people you've told who like to ask, "you can eat THAT?" or "well I've always wanted to get weight loss surgery but I just can't afford the time off of work." Silence them. Truly. Whether you need to take a walk, talk to your therapist, color aggressively - whatever it is do it. Our culture is obsessed with weight. Losing it, gaining it, who's done what. You owe no explanation and having a candid reply or two ready can make the situation feel less stressful. My go to? "Thanks, I am feeling so healthy!"
Wishing you all the best as you start out on your journey! Reach out to us for any questions, and we're so proud of you!