Weight Loss Surgery (Obesity Surgery) Results


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A common question from weight loss surgery patients is what will the results be?  The results vary considerably and they are completely dependant on the patient’s commitment to keeping to the dietary guidelines and incorporating exercise into a long-term plan for weight loss.  It is important to be realistic about the results of your surgery.  Weight loss surgery is not designed to make patients into supermodels overnight.  It is not uncommon for some weight loss surgery patients to expect to lose vast amounts of weight in a matter of weeks and for them to feel very let down if this is not the case.  The media have encouraged the public to think of weight loss surgery as some type of cosmetic surgery, after highly published cases from high profile media figures having tummy tucks and gastric bands.  Weight loss surgery should not be grouped with plastic surgery, it is a serious, complex, specialised area of medicine.  The aim of weight loss is to enable the severely obese to lose weight and solve the associated serious often life-threatening health problems they have such as heart disease and diabetes.  It is unrealistic to expect to drop from a BMI of 40 to 25, however the results of weight loss surgery can be dramatic and very effective and long lasting.  

Life After Weight Loss Surgery

As well as being realistic about the results of weight loss surgery it is also important to understand that there are no guarantees that you will lose weight.  Losing weight will be down to your commitment to make lifestyle changes post surgery, the surgery is really just a tool to help you lose weight.  The results will vary from individual to individual and each person will have their own expectations from the surgery.  You should be aware that there are risks as well as the many benefits, although these complications are rare they do happen. 

There are many factors, which will determine the amount of weight loss you will achieve such as your age and health.  Medical staff will want to see that you have made efforts to lose weight by other means such as a healthy diet and exercise after surgery at regular check-ups.  The more commitment you have made to losing weight through diet and exercise the more likely you will lose weight after the surgery.

The vast majority of weight loss surgery patients do lose weight after surgery, particularly in the first year post surgery.  Having a stomach that only holds something the size of a boiled egg means patients feel full after only a small portion of food.  Taking in further amounts of food usually leads to vomiting, cramps or discomfort. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping to the dietary advice you will receive after surgery.  It may take many months before you feel able to ‘go it alone’ with your diet.  There will be help at hand from dietitians and surgeons regarding your diet in the form of detailed advice at every step post surgery.  There should be a whole team of medical staff all dedicated to making sure you make a success of your surgery.  Much of what you will need to learn and keep to after surgery, are practical measures that you will need to implement into your life long-term.  The sooner you can learn and keep to your new lifestyle the quicker and more chance you will have of significant weight loss. 

Weight loss surgery is a physical procedure where the stomach is operated on not the mind, therefore all the thinking or re-thinking about attitudes to food and exercise has to be done by the patient alone.  There is support as part of your aftercare, which will address for some often deep-rooted relationships with food.  Many patients experience ‘head hunger’ where they feel they need foods usually comfort foods high in fat and sugar even though their stomachs feel full. 

Many surgeons have noted how the attitude of the patient plays a big role in the success in weight loss post surgery.  For many, motivation can be lacking until they start to see the weight loss they most desperately wanted after surgery.  This does not happen for some quickly enough, it can be several months before they start to see visual signs of their weight loss.  Going through weight loss surgery is an emotional and enduring experience so it is understandable for many patients to want to see instant results.  Many experience a low or depression a few months after surgery as they adjust to a new lifestyle and face new challenges.  It is important therefore to attend patient support groups to share and exchange experiences with other patients.  There is no one typical case of how quickly weight loss surgery patients loss weight so it is important not to compare yourself with others who may of lost weight rapidly.  It is important to take the advice of your surgeon, stick to your eating plan and start taking regular exercise.  Weight loss is typically quite dramatic for most weight loss surgery patients who follow all the advice given to them. 

Weight Loss Surgery as a Long-Term Solution to Obesity

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix, it is intended to be a long-term solution to obesity and it is important that patients have a commitment to lifestyle changes. Many weight loss surgery patients want to know when they will see weight loss.  Typically most patients lose around 30 – 40% of their excess weight within six months.  Some patients reach their ideal healthy weight within as little as nine months.  One year after surgery most patients have seen significant weight loss and are often close to their goal of their ideal healthy weight.  The first year after weight loss surgery is known as the ‘window of opportunity’ for weight loss because it is when it is easiest for patients to loss weight quickly. 

Weight loss is usually most rapid within the first 6-8 months and will start slowing down gradually usually after the first year after surgery.  This is because over time the pouch starts stretching and slowly enlarging allowing a bigger portion of food to be accommodated.  The meal size can for example increases from just 4 ounces a few months after surgery – approximately the size of a hard-boiled egg to the size of a fist a year after surgery.  Of course there is variation on the amount of stretching that occurs for each patient, however this stretching does occur.  This is why patients are advised to try and lose as much weight as they can during the first year after surgery when stretching has not occurred yet.  

Patients who have not lost significant weight should look into the reasons why this could be and discuss this with your surgeon or dietitian.  If you feel that you have not lost the weight you desire, you should seek the support you may need.  Follow-ups and aftercare are vitally important to check your weight and track your progress.  Lack of weight loss could mean that you could require adjustment surgery to tighten your band.  How to ensure success is a question many weight loss surgery patients may want to explore before surgery.  It is important to be aware of what you need to do after surgery to reach a healthy sustainable weight.  The more you understand about life after your weight loss surgery and can start learning about a new healthy lifestyle the more success you will have long-term. 

Food choices are very important, post surgery you should be getting all the information and advice you need to ensure you are making good food choices.   Many patients learn quickly if they have not make a good choice through ‘dumping syndrome’.  This is when patients eat too much of a fatty or sugary food, this type of food moves too quickly through the small intestine causing vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.  Often this is a highly unpleasant experience so patients learn not to eat too much of these types of foods.   Overeating or eating the wrong type of food for each dietary stage, will also result in vomiting, stomach cramps, bloating and discomfort. 

Having moral support from a circle of friends and family was also stated as a reason for success by many patients.  It is important to surround yourself with supportive positive friends and family who can encourage you stick to your new healthy lifestyle and tell you how great you look of course!  Just seeing many of the benefits of being slimmer and lighter is usually enough to inspire most weight loss surgery patients.  Suddenly things become possible like playing with the children, walking to the bus stop, doing a yoga class.  Many patients describe their new healthy lifestyles as ‘getting a life back’ and enjoy the many health benefits such as greater mobility, sleeping better, breathing more comfortably to name a few. 


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