5 Tips to Help Mentally Prepare For Your Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric surgery is a life-altering treatment that has profound effects on your health, requiring a commitment on your part to gain the best from the physical changes you’ll experience. You’ll benefit from improved cardiac health, and you could see long-term remission from Type 2 diabetes symptoms, as well as joint aches and improvements to other medical conditions.

There are also mental aspects to the procedure, from issues surrounding obesity, including self-image and depression problems, as well as with the profound changes you’ll go through on the start of your post-surgery journey. Here are five tips that can help you get your mindset in place before your procedure.

Manage your expectations

No matter how welcome the changes from surgery may be, staying realistic about your results is extremely critical to your long-term success. We live in a society that’s become accustomed to instant gratification, and though you know your excess weight won’t be gone when you wake after surgery, you do need to prepare for a progression of weight loss that, though accelerated, still requires a substantial time investment.

Don’t think “diet”

As with many words in our language, “diet” has different meanings. While it refers to the collection of foods we eat, it also has a heavy connotation as a specially modified subset of foods consumed temporarily to meet weight-loss goals.

It’s best to simply banish the word from your post-surgery lexicon. There’s nothing temporary about your bariatric procedure, nor is there anything temporary about your eating plan afterward. You’re modifying your lifestyle permanently, and the foods you eat should be different moving forward.

Set goals without a scale

There’s no question that the number on the scale is a goal. But it can’t be your only marker. When you reach that magic point, no explosion of fireworks suddenly emerge from the scale. It’s just another day going through your morning routine.

Yet bariatric surgery is about changing your life. Perhaps it’s your goal to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. That’s a motivator with a reward, not simply a nice number between your feet.

Rely on your support group

You need help after your surgery, not only in the first few days of recovery, but onward through the weight-loss progression. Involve your primary care physician, of course, but also assemble a team of family and friends to help you set and pursue goals.

You’re going to feel overwhelmed at times, alone, and as though no one can relate to what you’re going through. While every journey is unique, many of the challenges and fears you face are common to bariatric patients, so seek them out, find a bariatric support group, and watch seminars online.

Once you build your team, use them, no matter how hard it is for you to ask for help.

Remain aware of addictive behaviors

Food creates an unusual form of addiction. Quitting alcohol or other drug dependence means a complete break with those substances, something you can’t do with food. On one hand, you must continue to eat to survive, but you may be losing the substantial and real emotional buffer that eating once offered you.

Replacing such a powerful force in your life may be tempting, with alcohol and tobacco being convenient and available alternatives. The dangers of tobacco are many, and as a surgical patient, you could face serious complications from smoking. Alcohol is high in calories and may make you more susceptible to overeating, compromising the new patterns you seek to establish.

As specialists in bariatric medicine, the caregivers at the Surgical Clinic of Louisiana are part of your team. Be sure to discuss your worries, concerns, and questions with Dr. David C. Treen Jr., Dr. Lundberg and their team in the days leading up to your procedure. Your emotional state is as important as your physical condition when considering the success of your surgery.

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