Weight Loss Tracker

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Weight-Loss Surgery: Accepting Your New Life and Body

Amazing!  I was looking through this past year's entries in Everyday Health and they had this article!  It's a bit late in coming for those of us who have had surgery a while, but it still has some great information.

Bariatric surgery brings big changes, and many are emotional. Follow these tips to adjust to the new you in healthy ways.

By Gina Roberts-Grey

After weight loss surgery, patients can experience dramatic transformations — and not all are easy to spot. As they shed weight and begin to experience life as a thinner person, they often find they must adjust to some changes they never anticipated, in addition to the expected transformations in their eating and exercise habits. Inquisitive questions, new social interests, a changing body image…all can offer special challenges, opportunities, and risks after gastric-bypass surgery. Follow these tips to ease the transition to your new body and your new life.

Practice responding to questions and compliments. Initially, it can be difficult to face common questions from friends, coworkers, and acquaintances, such as, "How did you lose all that weight?" and "Did you have work done?" Even, "You look amazing!" can cause stress if you haven't thought about what to say. Decide how you'd like to reply to these questions and compliments (and any other comments or reactions you anticipate) ahead of time, and practice giving responses with a trusted friend or even in front of the mirror, says Anne Eshelman, PhD, ABPP, clinical-health psychologist at the bariatric-surgery program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Ultimately, you need to feel comfortable with your new body image before you can expect others to be. This confidence will make the transition easier.

Plan for relationships to be affected. Life after bariatric surgery can be trying, and new eating and exercise habits may affect the way you socialize with or relate to certain family members or friends — or even your spouse. Expect relationships to face these challenges and to undergo changes. Also, bariatric-surgery patients often gain self-confidence after shedding a lot of weight, and this can change the long-standing dynamics of a relationship. "People who were always submissive because their weight sapped their confidence may suddenly come out of their shells," says Eshelman, "and that may be startling for their partners or friends." Consider speaking with those closest to you about such issues before the surgery, if possible.

Expect positive attention, but keep a healthy perspective. Rapidly losing weight after bariatric surgery sends some people in search of attention, as they feel more attractive than they ever did when they were obese. Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they're receiving positive reactions from others. Jessie McCaskill, 46, from Las Vegas, experienced this after she had weight-loss surgery in 2002 and lost 130 pounds. "After losing the weight, for the first time in my life I was the 'belle of the ball' and went looking for attention." McCaskill found the attention she never got presurgery, and that attention led to an extramarital affair. "Despite being married to a fantastic person, I was driven to heal the hurt fat girl I'd been for 41 years." That healing, McCaskill says, ruled her. "Because of the changes I was experiencing, I acted rashly. It's one of my life's biggest regrets."

Discussing the physical and emotional changes that come after weight-loss surgery in a support group can be helpful, says Eshelman. Hearing the insights of others can help bariatric-surgery patients recognize people who may sabotage their transformation and situations that may become emotionally unhealthy. "A support group can help teach coping strategies as well as help a patient develop healthy levels of self-esteem and self-confidence post–weight loss," says Eshelman.



  1. So much good information here - especially the one about telling people how you lost weight - I still haven't figured that one out. I certainly haven't told everybody (and a couple of people found out through others.. not ideal!)

  2. Yeah, I'm on the fence myself. Some of my family didn't find out until many months after I had surgery. Other acquaintances don't know. Recently, though, a neighbor and her sister asked how I lost weight and I told them (both are overweight). It's kinda hit and miss for me.

  3. hey, I'm having gastric sleeve surgery in 5 days. What does it say about me that I don't want anyone to know? I'm only telling my spouse and my BFF. I'm not telling my teenaged kids because they might tell their friends then "the moms" would find out. I feel like there would be so much judgement. What's wrong with me?

  4. I think whatever makes YOU most comfortable is the way you should go. There is nothing wrong with you at all! Some people are open books. I consider myself a pretty open book, but I have kept this VERY close to the vest. Why? Probably the same concern about judgments. Like now... I've been stalled out for months. Do I want everybody and their brother breathing down my neck or paying attention to every little thing that I do? NO! It's really nobody's business.

    Would you tell everybody if you had a hysterectomy or a scope snaked up your rectum? I wouldn't. It's really nobody's business at all. My own parents didn't know until well after I had done it -- and the only reason I did was that my mom was afraid something was wrong with me health-wise.

    Do what you feel comfortable with. You only owe yourself, not anybody else.

  5. Remember how everyone turned against Starr Jones when she didn't disclose her gastric surgery? I don't plan to lie to anyone..but I don't want the judgement or comments..Is it really OK to not tell? Why is this my biggest concern 5 days away from surgery?

  6. I think people needed to lay off Star Jones. I don't like her much from what I've seen, but I felt she was very mistreated over her weight loss. Some act as if, being in the public eye, she owed something to people. She didn't. What if she had cancer? Should she have been forced to out herself then? What about AIDS? But somehow, WLS seems to be fair game.

    I don't expect any of us to suffer the types of judgments that she did because we're not in the public eye. And though I don't know much about the sleeve, I would guess you would still be required (or it would be suggested) that you exercise and eat right. All anybody needs to know is that you're taking care of yourself -- which IS true.

    I had a boss who was really going at me, asking if I had had bypass right after my band. I was appalled that she would be so direct, but I told the truth -- I DID NOT have bypass. ;) But still, it really IS nobody's business. I understand your concern, though. We go through these things near the time of our surgeries. But remember, right now is not the time to worry about others -- just take care of YOURSELF (and for some of us, it's the first time we've done it) and heal well, recover quickly, and start working towards the new you. As time goes on, you MAY decide to tell a person here or there; but if you don't, that's okay too.

    People don't have a RIGHT to know any more about you than you're willing to tell, no matter the topic.

  7. By the way, congrats and good luck with your surgery!

  8. Thanks Beth. I really appreciate your comments.