Going through weight loss procedure is only half the battle won. 95% of the patients after surgery say their quality of life has improved phenomenally. Weight loss surgery is not just about losing those extra kilos; it can alter your lifestyle, the way you look at life, your self-image and your relationships.
Here are a few tips for coping with your post-op phase
1. Accept the new you
The fundamental thing after the surgery is to accept your body in its current state. As the mind would have got used to a certain ‘you’ in the past, it could be emotionally challenging for you to accept the ‘new you’. Meditation, the process of silently-closely observing and creating awareness about the changes may create a positive & healthy perspective of your body. This will boost your energy to work towards your fitness goals. This is particularly important soon after the surgery.
2. Get a realistic picture
Before signing up for the operation, get a realistic picture from your surgeon about the actual weight loss you will go through. Don’t let yourself in for a surprise of what you are expecting and the actual outcome. For instance, with sleeve gastrectomy, patients lose about 50-70% of extra weight; but with gastric bypass, they can lose up to 90% of excess body weight. Your surgeon will suggest the best option for you based on your body type, existing health conditions and family history. Losing excess weight may lead to saggy and loose skin. Do not get perturbed about it, discuss with your surgeon about the ways to avoid or get rid of it.
3. Get through the first week
With almost all kinds of bariatric surgery, the first week especially can make you feel a little out of place. You could feel nauseated; there might not be an urge to eat anything, you could be constipated, you might be experiencing acid reflux etc. But you should understand that your body is still getting used to the changes. It needs time to recoup and rebuild itself. But the doctors won’t let you stay in bed for long. The sooner you get on your feet, it is better for you to acclimatise with your bodily changes. Your doctor will guide you with simple exercises, to begin with.
4. Mind your food
There could be times when you are around people who are eating regular food. Your body might be prompting you against that food, or even the smell of it (but this only for a few days). So, it is better to avoid eating with anyone until you get to a state where your body agrees with regular food. Also, your restructured stomach is capable of holding small amounts of food. So, eat small portions, chew them slowly and have it at frequent intervals.
5. Health journal
Progressing through the weeks after the surgery, your body will now be getting back to normalcy. Starting a scrapbook with your weight loss journey, before and after-experience with photos, tracking every phase and enjoying the progress will keep you motivated to do more, to achieve exceptional results. You could also make video blogs/Vlogs helping other people cope with their post-op phase.
6. Hair loss
There may be hair loss after the surgery. Those who undergo gastric bypass or gastric sleeve surgery experience more hair loss than the ones who undergo lap band procedure. The reason is, with the first two procedures, the rate of weight loss is faster and in turn, leads to a higher prevalence of nutrient deficiency. At about 3-5 months after surgery, the hair loss sets in and gradually stops with the right intake of proteins, vitamins and minerals. 60 grams/day is the minimum protein requirement for the body. Doesn’t matter in what form you take it, could be Greek yoghurt, beans, protein bars, lean chicken and red meat, grilled/baked fish, low-fat cheese etc., but make sure you meet the daily requirement. Stick to the vitamin and mineral supplements like Vit A, Vit B6 & B12, Calcium, folate, iron, zinc, and so forth.
7. Health benefits
Weight loss surgery leads to certain health benefits. For instance, your diabetes, Blood Pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol etc. may get better and make it easy for you to manage the conditions. These things could also be temporary if you do not take good care of your body post-surgery. So, ensure you schedule regular check-ups with your doctor.
8. Mind your relationships
There are a lot of personal aspects attached to bariatric surgery. Looking & feeling better makes any person more confident and motivated. There are instances where you can start having an active social life. Per-Arne Svensson, Associate Professor at Sahlgrenska Academy, Sweden says, there are cases where relationships are unchanged, in fact, strengthened after surgery. On the other hand, improved self-confidence and self-image empowers people who have undergone surgery to leave unhealthy relationships. But each to their own. You decide on your future. Work towards what makes you happy and gives you a satisfying life.
We wish you a happy recovery!