A growing number of obese patients are undergoing bariatric surgery to improve their overall health. But even though bariatric surgery, including the gastric band and gastric bypass, has helped patients shade the extra weight, surgery alone will not keep the pounds off. It is a common misconception that surgery alone can help patients lose weight. This is simply not true. Patients will lose weight in the short term but will gain it back if they don’t maintain a healthier lifestyle. For example, the gastric bypass, one of the more complex bariatric surgeries that can potentially help patients lose 80% of their extra body weight; is only as effective as the lifestyle commitments made post surgery. Bariatric surgery may be the start to potential lifelong weight loss but there are 3 key steps successful patients share: diet, exercise and a good support group.
A healthier diet is the first step in losing weight in general and post surgery. A change in stomach size or the digestive system will not guarantee weight loss if patients are eating unhealthy and high caloric foods. To lose weight and sustain it, patients must be able to comply and follow dietary changes in the short and long term. Again, surgery is only a tool, the dietary changes which include eating smaller portion and staying away from processed foods are relatively simple but very effective if adhered to. Each patient’s diet and needs are different, professional advice from a dietitian or a nutritionist is advised to create a healthy, suitable and sustainable diet plan.
Physical activity is the second step in losing weight by burning off excess calories. Regular exercise plays a critical role in helping weight loss surgery patients achieve long-term success. However, certain exercise training precautions need to be taken into consideration. For example, within the first 30 days after a gastric bypass surgery, patients are typically sore and uncomfortable. During that time, bariatric surgeons may advise a simple walking program. As the patient’s fitness levels improve, they can then progress to more advanced exercises. It is recommend that patients seek professional advice and guidance in fitness by speaking to a personal or fitness trainer. This is highly recommend especially for weight loss surgery patients who a limited knowledge of training and the gym. The other advantage of a personal trainer is the emotional support and the boost of confidence they are well known to offer their clients in achieving their weight loss goals.
The third step in sustainable weight loss is finding a good support group. In a 2011 study from the department of surgery at the UCLA University, it was proven that the most successful patients are those with a good support group, either it be family, friends or a patient support group. Undergoing weight loss surgery is a major and life altering event. Patient will not only need a good support system to help them recover but to also emotionally support to motivate them in maintaining their new lifestyles.
Losing weight through bariatric surgery is not only a biological change but a psychological change as well. It is important that patients see a nutritionist or dietitian prior to undergoing weight loss surgery to understand the physical and mental commitment needed in changing their diets. Diet alone will not shade the extra weight. The trick is to not only lower the daily caloric intake but to also increase the daily caloric output. Regular exercise is proven to increase strength and metabolism which in turn will support a healthy and steady weight loss. The extra support from family, friends or other patients will offer weight loss surgery patients the daily level of motivation they will need to commit to their new lifestyles.