Weight Loss Surgery (Obesity Surgery) & Forums/Support Groups

Weight loss surgery and the challenges of maintaining a healthy weight is a challenging life experience that should not be underestimated.  Many weight loss surgery patients battle with lifelong eating issues and emotional experiences from the past.  In addition there is a whole new way of life to be learnt, exercise routines and eating habits along with the after effects of the surgery itself. 

Don’t panic, there is not doubt that weight loss surgery will pose many challenges, however help is at hand.  Support groups are a great place to turn for inspiration, support and sharing knowledge.  Research shows that those patients that belonged to some sort of support group were much more successful in losing and maintaining their desired weight post surgery.  The motivation and support that like-minded people who have experienced something similar to you, should not be underestimated. You may be lucky and find all the support you need within your family and close friends, which will of course be a great source of comfort during the more difficult times.  Support groups however are made up of patients who understand your weight loss journey as they themselves have undergone similar experiences.  In fact support groups not only provide help to you but also your family and friends.  Most support groups will let you bring along friends and family so you can all share experiences.

You should be able to find a local support group in your area.  There are different types of support groups – surgeon-support groups, patient-led groups and online support groups.  Here is brief outline of what each one can provide:

Surgeon Support Groups for Weight Loss Surgery

These are support groups where the surgeon and other medical professional lead the sessions.  Some surgical practices have their own support group and this is something you should enquire about when choosing your surgeon as these groups are very important post surgery.  In these groups the general message, which is strongly put across, is that weight loss surgery is only a tool for losing weight and that long-term success is down to you.  Attendance at these groups is intended to support you in making sure you are successful at losing and maintaining a healthy weight.  Groups may meet once a month for around two hours, and may be led by a bariatric coordinator.  On occasions there maybe specialist speakers on different topics including plastic/cosmetic surgery, exercise, vitamins, digestive problems or body image.  There is often lots of information available for you to take away and advice on eating habits and recipes.  These groups are a great place to get your questions answered by professionals and have any concerns or worries you may have, addressed. 

There is a great benefit in meeting others who have experienced weight loss surgery in these groups and many patients make life-long friends.  Sharing experiences is a positive thing to do, however do not feel defeated if you feel others are making more progress than you.  Remember life after surgery is a personal journey and one which you must make at your own pace.  Everyone is different and some may make rapid progress early on and then struggle, while others make more steady progress, it is not a competition more of a personal journey.

Patient Led Groups for Weight Loss Surgery

You may live in an area where there are no groups led by your clinic. These groups lack some of the professional advice that is available at the surgeon-led groups, however they are still very beneficial and there are many benefits in being part of these groups.  You will be able to share experience and have peer-support within these groups, which is important for motivation and support.  Again do not be defeated if you meet other patients who appear to be making great strides in their progress, it is a personal journey.  Do not compare yourself to others in terms of how much weight you have lost as this will depend on many factors, the idea of a support group is to reassure you not to make you feel lacking.  Another important point to mention is not to rely on fellow patients for medical advice. If you have a question or query on something more medical always consult with a professional. 

Internet Groups for Weight Loss Surgery

These groups are less ideal than the previous two but can be hugely helpful for those who cannot for whatever reason join a face to face group.  There are many such groups available throughout the world, which you can access online.  The advantage of these groups is that you can communicate with patients all over the world and get a real insight into varying experiences.  Even these people on online forums are not in the ‘real’ world there is still much information and support you can gain from exchanging stories and experiences. 

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