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Before and After Bariatric Surgery: Shifting to a Healthier Lifestyle

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Obesity is one of the most pressing issues facing Americans today. With approximately one-third of the American public considered obese – having a BMI of at least 30 – obesity is easily the leading cause of major life-threatening illnesses, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Bariatric surgery, which refers to a variety of obesity treatment options that change the way the body digests food, is at the forefront of treatment for severe obesity and has become more and more popular in recent years as new research is revealed.

In order to be a candidate for surgery for obesity, one must have a BMI of 40 or above or 35 or above with a history of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, or other obesity-related disorder.

“Whether you’re a candidate for surgery also really depends on what the insurance company deems as appropriate,” according to Deb Hart, Registered Dietitian for Barix Clinics, a leader in bariatric care. “Because weight loss surgery is such an effective treatment for those with obesity and type 2 diabetes, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing a trend of more surgeries undertaken by patients with lower BMIs – but with serious complications from diabetes.”

Weight-loss surgery, however, is not something to be taken lightly. You must be committed to an entire diet and lifestyle change. There is also a number of things one must know – both before and after surgery.

Getting started: How should you prepare for weight-loss surgery?

“First of all, you should spend time researching surgeons,” Hart recommends. “It’s especially important to find a doctor who specializes in bariatric surgery and performs a number of procedures per month, rather than someone who only conducts one or two a month.”

Once you have selected a surgeon or provider, you need to discuss the various surgical options, as there are several common types of procedures.

You should also expect to meet with a nutritionist to discuss how to change the way you eat – and look at food. Developing better eating habits is key to keeping the weight off for good.

“It’s also a plus if you can find the time beforehand to incorporate exercise or walking into your day,” Hart suggests. “It’ll make the lifestyle changes after surgery that much easier.”

The long-haul: What should you expect immediately following surgery and over time?

No matter what form of surgery you are considering, you are undoubtedly excited about the impending results and the new you. Yet, before you get carried away, you need to be informed of exactly what is expected of you.

Immediately following surgery, you can count on losing a lot of weight, although exactly how much depends on both your pre-surgery weight and the type of procedure performed.

Recovery time can take anywhere from 1-6 weeks to return to regular activities. Side effects are uncommon, but can occur. Always consult with your physician if you are experiencing any uncomfortable side effects or complications following surgery.

By far, the biggest commitment to make concerns future nutrition and lifestyle changes. Because bariatric surgery changes the size of your stomach and the way your body takes in food, you should be aware of certain important recommendations:

  • Seek the advice of a nutritionist to help you get started on a plan
  • Make sure your body is not missing essential nutrients (i.e. iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12)
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals
  • Eat more slowly
  • Pay closer attention to food labels
  • Exercise regularly, even if it is just walking
  • Quit smoking (if you haven’t already)

The benefits of surgery for obesity are endless. Over time, you will feel happier and healthier, as research shows that approximately 95% of patients report having an improved quality of life.

“In every way possible, I’m healthier. I sleep better. I’m more confident and comfortable in my own skin,” stated Linda G., a satisfied Barix Clinics patient.

Pursuing bariatric surgery and shifting to a more active lifestyle means committing to a healthier and happier you – but it does take work.

“This surgery is a tool to lose weight, but it is not a cure all,” informs former Barix Clinics patient and gastric bypass recipient Laura C. “You must be willing to embrace all the changes you need to make in order to start living a healthier life free from the chains of obesity. …This is NOT an easy way out for any of us, emotionally or physically. But if you are truly ready, it is worth it.”

For more information about bariatric surgery performed at Barix Clinics and to find out if you are a candidate, visit www.barixclinics.com.