Preparing for Bariatric Surgery is no easy thing. It’s something you may have spent years thinking about and is not a decision to be taken lightly. Recently I’ve had a few people mention they have been thinking of having weight loss surgery. I’ve been asked questions about my own gastric bypass journey
So here goes, I hope you find this guide to preparing for bariatric surgery useful.
Preparing For Bariatric Surgery – Which Procedure Should I have?
The first thing you will need to do before having gastric bypass or weight loss surgery is to research and learn about the different bariatric surgery options.
There are different types of weight loss surgery and it is important to learn about each one to enable to to work out which procedure is best for you. You could choose from:
- Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding.
- Sleeve gastrectomy.
- Duodenal switch
Making the Decision To Have Gastric Bypass Surgery.
Often people who struggle with weight for whatever reason will first try to lose weight the natural way. I can’t remember how many times I joined weight watchers, slimming clubs and counted calories. I would lose weight and then regain it once I went back to a normal diet.
Being overweight has always been a struggle and even more so once I was put on steroids for life due to my Adrenal Insufficiency.
I considered surgery for many years. I read about it, read success stories, watched television and the more I saw the health benefits of Gastric Bypass the more I wanted the procedure.
Speaking to The Doctor About Weight Loss Surgery
In the UK I needed to speak to my GP in order to get a referral to the weight loss team.
My attempts for the first few years fell on death ears. I was told to exercise more, eat better and given general guidance which really didn’t work well for me.
Eventually, I decided to look up the criteria for Gastric Bypass Surgery.
I realised I met the criteria for an appointment, went to my GP and told them this was what I wanted. My GP finally listened and I was referred to the bariatric team.
Weight Loss Requirements For Gastric Bypass Surgery
In order to have bariatric surgery of any kind in the UK, you need to meet certain criteria.
For me I was asked to lose weight on my own for a year. I was sent to a dietician and told after one year I would be reviewed again by the bariatric team.
I was expected to lose between five to ten percent of my body weight by counting calories.
For one year I struggled but did my best and I stuck to a strict calorie counting diet of 1400 calories a day for a whole year.
I lost weight at the start but within 4 months I had stalled. I could not lose anymore no matter how hard I tried.
Luckily I had lost 10% of my body weight so I worked hard to maintain and not regain the weight loss.
Attending Meetings Before Bariatric Surgery
I was required to attend meetings regularly to learn about Bariatric Surgery and the different options available. This was a requirement and I even had to get a form signed each time I attended to show the dietician.
Without attending the meetings I could not progress or be referred at the end of my year. The meetings were useful. I did learn a lot but nothing really could have prepared me for the real thing.
Mentally Preparing For Bariatric Surgery
During the year I focussed hard on sticking to a diet. I chose not to stress out over it or worry too much and tried not to think about the operation.
I simply got on with life the best I could knowing that in a year and a half or longer my turn for Gastric bypass would come. I was given information and told to start preparing myself.
- Learn not to drink with meals.
- Practice eating slowly.
- Learn to chew chew chew my food and only eat food the size of a 20 pence piece.
I tried hard but it was difficult to put this into practice. I still struggle today 10 months out.
Deciding whether to tell people about my Gastric Bypass
Although I knew I would be having a Gastric Bypass in the long term future, I chose not to speak about this to people until I had a date and it my procedure was confirmed.
Of course my husband knew but there is always a chance with chronic health conditions that an operation may be unsafe and you may not meet the final criteria for the gastric bypass operation.
When I finally announced I was having surgery I had a mixed response. I had some support but others were quite negative.
In hindsight I may not have shared with people as much as I did. It’s something to consider as you prepare.
Pre-Op tests When Preparing For Bariatric Surgery
Before I was given a date for my Gastric Bypass I had to meet with the Surgeon, have a psychological assessment, many blood tests, a heart trace and speak to the anaesthetist.
It was not until everyone was satisfied that I was able to get a date for my operation and begin to prepare for my Liver Shrinking Diet in preparation for my procedure.
It took over 18 months to get to this stage and I was given an operation date the week after my pre-op testing.
Preparing For Bariatric Surgery Cancellations – It Happens!
Three times I completed the Liver Shrinking diet, went through the mental torture of giving up certain foods and drinks for life and not knowing what it would be like on the losers bench.
This was a very stressful time. The Liver reduction diet is not easy. I found it incredibly difficult. I felt hungry and starving and really struggled but I had to shrink my liver so it would not be in the way for my operation.
For me, I psyched myself up, travelled a few hours to the hospital and went through the psychological pressure of preparing for my gastric bypass only to arrive and be told the operation is cancelled.
Having my procedure cancelled really messed with my head. It caused me to feel depressed and anxious and upset as one might expect. I also got more and more unwell as I stayed on the Liver shrinking diet in the end for 12 weeks.
My folate and zinc levels dropped and I then had to go on a course of vitamins before the procedure as I could not go ahead if my levels were not in normal range.
Eventually on my fourth appointment, my operation took place. It was scary and painful and changed my life.
It’s made life difficult but helped me lose weight as I needed to.
I’m glad I had my operation but It was not easy and is still a mental and emotional struggle for me each day. I am learning to live with this procedure and the fact after 30 weeks my weight loss stopped and I’ve not lost anything for over 18 months.
I am however glad I had the procedure and will keep trying to lose more weight to get to goal. Preparing for a Gastric bypass is massive. It’s not an easy thing and there is a lot to think about. I hope this post gives you food for thought.
Read more about Preparing For Bariatric Surgery Here.
This post has really opened my eyes up to the emotional aspect of preparing for an operation like this. Sounds like it is challenging mentally as well as physically. Why is it that you are told not to drink with your meal?
It is a massive thing and is life changing. 🙂 You cant drink with a meal because there is not enough space in the small stomach pouch and it would cause a lot of pain.
Did you have the the gastric sleeve or the Roux Y procedure done? Also just curious in the 30 months how much weight did you lose & are you still eating a diet low in sugar & carbs & eating lots of protein & veggies? Does the doctor think you will lose anymore weight? I’m contemplating weight loss surgery & do not know which procedure to get? I have approx 120 pounds to lose
I had Roux Y. I have written about it extensively on the blog… please do take a look. I am following the rules I was given. The dietician does not think i will lose more weight because of the medications I take for my health conditions… but i did lose 3 stone after my operation which is better than nothing… so whilst i wanted to lose about 100 pounds I only ever lost about 45 pounds from the operation. Better than nothing i guess but still I wish it were more.
For you it seemed really hard.. In my case i think its half easier. I had 7 months where i had to work out twice in a week (2h a week) and every month visit nutrionist. Had to write 2 weeks of what i ate in a day and 7 months of my activity. Had twice checked my blood and got my surgery date after stomach (inside) check. Before surgery i have to do 2 week protein diet and good to go!
robin wade says
I’m curious as to what current medications you are on. You state they are prohibiting you to lose additional weight. I am scheduled this Tuesday for Gastric Bypass and am scared, excited, scared, did I mention scared?
Kudos to you for making this lifestyle change and decision. 🙂
i’m on lots of medications but I am on steroids for life and they do not help with weight loss.
I’ve just started my journey with gastric bypass. And I’m so glad that I found this, thank you so much for all of this information! 😊
You are most welcome. I am glad this was useful.
Kelly Genson says
I am in the pre surgery stage right now. This really helped.