Crucial Questions That Often Arise 1 Year after Surgery
Article By: Whittany Gibson, RDN
Whittany is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who specializes in bariatric nutrition counseling, providing education and support prior to and following weight loss surgery.
Congratulations on reaching milestones you never thought possible after weight loss surgery! You’ve achieved what most people just dream about — shedding a significant amount of weight, discovering new things about yourself, and being another level of amazing. But you might be thinking, “Now what?” Unsurprisingly, you may be wondering how to tackle the upcoming chapter after your first big year. Let’s take a look at some common topics patients have brought to our attention and what you can do to keep up the momentum with your WLS success.
1) You're not done yet. You may have a year under your belt, but the journey is far from over. Think of it as a never-ending adventure, like a choose-your-own-ending book. The choices you make are what will keep the ball rolling toward your ultimate goal. Don't get discouraged. Keep up the healthy lifestyle you've worked so hard to create. That means making smart choices, gettin' your sweat on, and keeping portions in check.
2) You might regain some weight. It can be common to regain some of the weight you lost after weight loss surgery. This is often a result of falling off track with diet guidelines, a lack of accountability around managing food intake, and/or not getting enough exercise. It’s easy to do if you let life take over. People get back into the swing of their careers, routines, and life itself and lose sight of the priorities they need to support their long-term goals. If you're regaining weight, talk to your doctor or dietitian to see how you can get back on track. You may just need a reminder of why you did this in the first place to reset your brain and make a new plan. Remember to keep up the accountability by taking advantage of support groups and your bariatric team.
3) You may be struggling with excess skin. Many people have excess saggy skin after the surgery, which can be a major burden. It can be an annoyance when choosing your clothing, cause rashes that can become uncomfortable, and just downright mess with your confidence. Luckily, there's a solution to this too. Skin removal surgery can help you get rid of all that extra baggage. But don't rush into it just yet. Most physicians suggest waiting until you've lost the majority of the excess weight before going under the knife. This ensures optimal safety and gives your body enough time to cope and adjust after significant weight loss. Chat with your bariatric surgeon and get the proper guidance and referrals. Your care team can help you determine an appropriate timeline for plastic surgery based on the weight you’ve lost and the severity of your excess skin.
4) You need to change your exercise routine. To continue getting stronger and keep the ball rolling with your weight loss, you’ll need to increase the intensity of your workouts. Changing your routine every 3-4 weeks is recommended to prevent your body from adapting. You can do this by increasing your exercise time or intensity (using more weight, going faster, including more difficult movements). Doing so will ensure that you continue to build muscle and burn fat, keeping that metabolism where it belongs! So kick it up a notch when things start to feel easier or mundane!
5) You might have nutritional deficiencies. Weight loss surgery can cause nutritional deficiencies, depending on the procedure. Common deficiencies include Iron, Vitamin B12, and Calcium. Checking in with your bariatric center every six months after surgery for routine labs is customary to ensure you steer clear of deficiencies. Continue taking a bariatric-formulated Multivitamin and any other supplements your doctor has recommended. Choose a vitamin you can tolerate well and one you can take consistently.
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6) You may struggle emotionally. Shedding a dramatic amount of weight can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions. It’s understandable — you’re this whole new person but your old self simultaneously. If negative feelings start consuming you, chatting with someone is crucial. Your mental well-being should never be brushed off, but after WLS, giving your mental health a little TLC is especially important. So, get those feelings out in the open and keep your head clear for smooth sailing!
In case you haven’t heard it enough, you rock! You have made it to your first WLS milestone. But remember, even though you may have that year behind you, that doesn’t mean you’re done growing and learning. On the contrary! Commit to living and embracing each day as an adventure, push yourself to try new things, face situations confidently, and embrace those little moments that make life extraordinary. View each new day as a chance to use this gift of surgery in the best way possible.
BariMelts provides general recommendations, not to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor.
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