During this past summer, I had a heated exchange with someone in my private Facebook Group, Bariatric Weight Warriors. The issue was whether it’s better to lose weight or not before bariatric surgery.
There was a person in our group who had decided to lose weight while she was going through her surgery approval process. I had left an encouraging comment on her post. Apparently, another member of our group wholeheartedly disagreed with me and proceeded to let me know how she felt.
I remember, at the time, I was a bit shocked. But, that often happens when I’m approached with an unexpected response. I’m working on not being shocked by things. But, that seems to be an ongoing process.
During my pre-op approval stage, I lost 59 pounds. I had read somewhere that it was a good thing to do in preparation for surgery. My surgical team also encouraged losing weight, but only required that I did not gain weight during the approval process.
When this member confronted me on the subject I could not remember where I had read the information. Quite frankly at the time I read it, I wasn’t in the best physical or mental condition. I was clinging to any hope I could that things would improve in my life.
So, I did a search to find the article I had read, what seems like a lifetime ago. I found it at Bariatric Surgery Source. It’s titled PREPARING FOR WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY: ESSENTIAL CHECKLISTS. After reading it again I remembered why I was so committed to losing weight before my surgery.
The article lists studies which showed a clear benefit to losing weight pre-op. The one that caught my attention said that people who lost more weight before surgery also lost more weight after surgery. “For example, a Stanford University School of Medicine study of 90 gastric bypass patients found that for every 1% of weight loss before surgery, a patient can expect to lose 1.8% more weight at one-year post-op (1).” That was good enough for me. But there was more.
The article also referenced, “Another study of 881 gastric bypass patients found a direct correlation between pre-op weight loss and complication rates; the more weight patients lost while preparing for gastric bypass surgery, the less likely they were to experience complications (2).” Not too shabby. That was another reason I was sold on this process. I was 394 pounds and not able to breathe already. When my surgeon said a complication to my surgery could involve being put on a ventilator and having a tracheotomy; to say I was concerned was an understatement.
Then as I reread the article another thing stood out like a bright, red, flashing light. “The other big reason for preparing for weight loss surgery early is reversing poor habits. Habits take time to change, and weight loss surgery will not work over the long term if you don’t change your habits.” Wow, I didn’t even remember that part of the article. Yet, here I am 226 pounds lighter and the author of a book about changing our life-long habits about food. Hello!!!!!
That blew my mind. I must have read that part before my surgery even though I didn’t remember. It must have been absorbed at an internal level because that is exactly what I did to achieve my goal. So knowing what I know today, I most definitely recommend losing weight before surgery. If there was one thing I could pinpoint that I did before surgery that helped me to succeed; it would be losing weight pre-op.
I do want to stress the importance of talking to your surgery team and making sure you follow their advice. I had a lot of weight to lose and my BMI was over 60. If you have a borderline BMI for insurance approval, losing weight might bring you into an insurance dilemma. So know your insurance requirements and follow your surgeon’s instructions. But, if you get the all clear from your surgery team, don’t hesitate to do this. It will help you on so many levels.
I’m glad that group member challenged me. If I didn’t look that article up again, I would have never realized how much it influenced my weight loss journey. Bariatric surgery is a “tool” and the real work starts in our head. We have to change our thinking and behaviors if we want to have lasting success.
If you haven’t seen this yet, my new book is on Amazon. You can find it here: Mindset Breakthrough: Achieve Weight-Loss Surgery Success.