One of the most common questions people ask me when they discover I lost 158 pounds is whether I had weight loss surgery.
The answer to that question is “No, I did not.”
Personally, I did not have surgery for several reasons.
1) I am afraid of surgery in general.
2) Weight loss surgery was not as common when I was obese.
3) I could not afford it.
4) I had a feeling I could do lose weight myself.
Although I lost weight without surgery, there are over 175,000 people who underwent weight loss surgery in 2013, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMB). Of those people, over half of them will regain at least 5 percent of their lost weight after 2 years.
You may be one of the many people who hope that having weight loss surgery will fix everything. You may hope you will easily lose weight after surgery, you won’t have to think about food as much, and everything that frustrates you about your life will be fixed after surgery.
Some of those things do happen – sometimes.
· The reality is that losing weight through a surgical procedure does not always fix your weight problem. Most people will lose weight initially after the surgery but the weight loss can stall or stop completely if dietary changes are not maintained. And as the ASMB indicated, about half the patients regain some weight. There may be a need for further surgery to adjust the mechanism helping you control your food intake.
· Weight loss surgery cannot fix your emotional dependence on food or take away food cravings. Surgery makes it harder for you to eat large quantities of food without feeling ill, but the emotions and cravings are still present.
· Friends and family members may miss the “old you.” Instead of being supportive, you may have some people in your life who wish you can eat like you used to and participate fully in celebrations that revolve around food.
· You may find yourself sad or depressed when faced with the types of foods you can eat. It is a hard transition for many people to go from eating whatever they want to being required to follow a very strict diet post surgery.
I have known a lot of people who underwent weight loss surgery and were frustrated with their life post-surgery. In many of those cases, the person did not prepare emotionally for the changes that were about to take place.
Most reputable weight loss surgery centers require some type of pre-surgical counseling to ensure that patients have a complete understanding of what the surgery entails and what their food habits must be after surgery. However, even with counseling, some people are ill-prepared for the reality of eating small amounts of food and the difficulty associated with eating some of their favorite high fat foods.
In a lot of ways, the process to lose weight after surgery is similar to losing weight without surgery. Both require diligence to food choices, exercise when permitted by a doctor, reducing portion sizes, and addressing the emotional component of weight issues.
Although weight loss surgery will not automatically fix your life, you can make weight loss surgery work for you by researching your options thoroughly, getting counseling for emotional eating issues, and following your doctor’s dietary guidelines carefully. Remember that weight loss surgery is simply a tool you can use to get to a healthy weight. It is your responsibility to stay there.