Preparing for Weight Loss Surgery (Obesity Surgery)

Prior to weight loss surgery there will be procedures you will need to undergo such as testing.  Medical professionals need to ensure that you are in the best medical shape possible prior to surgery.  Some of the tests are required by your insurance company and most by your surgeon.   These tests will include:

Psychological Evaluation

The aim of the psychological evaluation is to find out if you are depressed, if so how seriously and how well you would be able to cope with surgery.  It is also to establish that you are fit to make the decision to have surgery and to establish if you have a support system in terms of friends and family to help you after surgery. 

Food may have been your best friend and after surgery you will no longer be able to rely on this friend.  You will undergo emotional demands adapting to a new healthier lifestyle.  Many find support and encouragement from friends and family or therapies. 

Nutritional Evaluation

A dietician will evaluate your eating habits and discuss your eating behaviours.  Many people use food as a comfort and support in time of stress and depression and it is important for you to be aware of your relationship with food.  A food diary is useful when talking about food behaviours with your dietician.  You will also be advised on healthy eating so you know how to develop a healthy diet post surgery. 

Other tests will include:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine samples
  • Cardiac tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • Sleep studies
  • Gallbladder tests
  • Colonoscopy

It is important that you prepare yourself physically and mentally for the surgery by watching what you eat, being mobile and mentally preparing for a new way of life.

It is common for patients to binge before surgery behaving as if they will never be able to eat again.  Gaining weight before surgery only adds to some of the dangers during surgery.

Try doing some exercise before surgery, just some simple movements will help improve your flexibility and health in general.  Walking is an excellent choice of low impact exercise and easy to do.  Start small by walking little distances, try walking to the shops or getting off the bus one stop earlier.  Keeping fit will make your surgery safer and your recovery easier.  

Breathing exercises are an excellent way of preparing for surgery.  Try sitting in a quiet place where there are no distractions from the TV, radio, children or pets.  Close your eyes and slowing breath in, count to five slowly then breath out.  Then repeat this several times until you feel calmer and you can feel your lungs working.  Smoking is a harmful activity and if you do smoke you have probably already been advised to stop.  Try to stop smoking as soon as you know that you will be having weight loss surgery.  You will be ordered by your doctor to stop smoking up to eight weeks before the surgery so the sooner you can give up, the better.  For some hearing that they have been accepted for weight loss surgery spurs them on to quit.  Quitting shows that you have willpower and commitment, this will be crucial for your long-term success in maintaining a healthy weight.  Morbid obesity usually goes hand in hand with breathing difficulties, smoking can only make breathing worse. 

You may be asked to prepare your bowels pre-surgery for some procedures.  This involves not eating for a few days and taking a laxative.  Your surgeon will advise you on exactly what to do and give you further advice.  Do not plan to do anything during these days as you will be need to be near a toilet and you may be uncomfortable. 

Make sure your home is ready and as comfortable as you can make it for after surgery.  Tie up any loose ends before you go into hospital like taking books back to the library, cleaning your house and doing the laundry, stock up on magazines and books. Try to think ahead and get organised, make sure your store cupboard is stocked with appropriate healthy foods post surgery.  Your own mental attitude will be very important during and after surgery. One way to stay determined and committed on your weight loss path is to have photographs taken of yourself before weight loss surgery.  Many patients forget how bad things really were but having a reference of yourself before surgery will spur you on.  It is common that many patients keep a journal of their life-changing journey, which can be a source of encouragement during difficult times.

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