Weight loss surgery is like other major surgeries. The best preparation is to understand the risks and potential benefits and to closely follow your doctor’s instructions.
To mentally prepare yourself:
- Understand the surgical process and what to expect afterwards.
- Talk to people who have already had weight loss surgery. Attend support groups. Surround yourself with people who share your situation. Ask questions and receive answers in a supportive environment. Form a network to share recipes and exercise tips. It’s important for you to know that you are not alone. There are knowledgeable, friendly people available to support and help you.
- Write a letter to yourself and your surgeon explaining your reasons for having the surgery and outlining your plans to maintain your weight loss after surgery.
- Start a journal about your experience. Record how you feel now, the obstacles you encounter, the things you hope to be able to do after surgery.
- Take a personal inventory of how you use food. Is it just for physical nourishment? Emotional? Entertainment? Boredom? Are you “addicted” to certain foods? Separate from the standard psychological evaluation; consider seeking consultation with a therapist to address your relationship with food. This may help ease the transition from the way you are eating before surgery to growing stronger in healthy eating habits for long term success after surgery. Your surgeon’s office has the names and numbers for recommended therapists.
- Help your friends and family members understand why you’ve chosen a surgical solution. Direct them to this website. It’s important that they understand that morbid obesity is a disease and that diets don’t work for you.
- People who are morbidly obese often report their spouses, or other family and friends seem to discourage weight loss. These people see your weight as part of your identity. Understand this is a fear of change. Discuss your reasons for having surgery. Let them know your health is at stake and you will be counting on them to help you during and after surgery. Get a letter of support from your family. It helps to know you have people behind you, waiting to help.
To physically prepare yourself, strictly follow your doctor’s guidelines. These usually include, but are not limited to:
- Restrict yourself to a clear liquid diet 12-24 hours before surgery.
- Restrict yourself to a full liquid diet for 7-10 days before surgery.
- Stop smoking or chewing tobacco for at least 3-6 months before surgery.
- Be certain to follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding any medications you may be taking to control other health conditions.
- Begin taking two showers a day a few days before you enter the hospital. Use a good soap. Wash very well from your breasts to below your waist. Make sure to clean between any folds of skin.
- Arrive on time to the hospital, with supplies from home for a 2-3 day hospital stay. You may only need an overnight bag if you are having the adjustable gastric banding procedure. If you use special equipment for sleep apnea, you should bring your machine to the hospital.
- Do not have weight loss surgery while you have any other acute medical problem. If you are getting a cold or have a sore throat, ear infection, kidney or bladder infection, open wound or sore or unexpected dental work, call your doctor. It may be safer to reschedule your surgery.