Q. Dear Dr. Baskett: I am going to have bariatric surgery. What can I do to make sure that I will be successful after my surgery?
A. It is important to think about this. Any bariatric surgery will offer you a great tool to manage your weight. Yet, none of these surgeries is a cure for the chronic disease of obesity. You will still need to “work at it.” It is estimated that about 30 percent of bariatric surgery patients will regain some of their lost weight. Often, with this weight regain, the associated co-morbidities such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and sleep apnea will come back.
Patients who have had post-surgical weight regain attribute this to lack of accountability and motivation, inadequate support and unresolved emotional issues.
Several studies have been done to look at what distinguishes people who have had bariatric surgery and have been successful in maintaining the weight loss from those who have not been able to do so. These studies point to the following:
Seeing bariatric doctor regularly
Attending support group on a regular basis. (Successful patients are three times more likely to attend support group.)
Following the bariatric eating plan
Not snacking and grazing throughout the day
Weighing and measuring your foods
Monitor calories throughout the day
Staying away from high-sugar foods
Not eating in front of the TV or “on the run”
Using protein drinks daily
Taking in adequate protein
Maintaining food records
Avoiding carbonated beverages
Avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol
Not drinking with meals
30-60 minutes of cardio 5-7 times a week
Using bariatric vitamins and omega 3 supplements
The take-home point is that weight loss surgery is not a panacea. It is about making a commitment to lifestyle change and “walking the talk.” If you believe you will be successful, you will. This is a journey that doesn’t end.