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7 top tips for deciding to have bariatric surgery

Deciding whether bariatric surgery is right for you is a complex and personal decision. Read our top tips to help you decide.

Posted on Thursday August 03, 2023

Are you trying to decide if bariatric (weight loss) surgery is right for you? 

In your assessment process with you you will meet with a surgeon, dietitian and psychologist you will support you to decide if now is the right time for you to have surgery and which surgery will be most suitable for you.  

Before your first meeting with us, think about this points......

Is bariatric surgery right for me?

1. Educate yourself

Learn about the different types of bariatric surgery available, such as gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, and gastric banding. Understand how each procedure works, the potential benefits, and the potential risks and complications associated with them. Research credible sources, consult reputable medical websites, and consider seeking information from healthcare professionals.

Make sure that you have researched the surgical team you are considering. If you are planning to have surgery privately, consider the following:

  • Does the surgeon also perform bariatric surgery within the NHS?
  • Does the team provide dietetic and psychological care before and after surgery?

Do you know anyone who has had surgery you can talk to? Although their experience will be particular to them, you can start to hear first-hand, some of the changes they have made since surgery.

Social media support groups can be incredibly helpful for emotional support but if you have specific questions about surgery, ask an expert.  

Speak to your GP about your decision to have bariatric surgery too.

Check out:
The British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society’s website www.bomss.org
Weight Loss Surgery Info www.wlsinfo.org.uk
‘Living With Bariatric Surgery’ book, by Dr Denise Ratcliffe

2. Is bariatric surgery suitable for you?

Bariatric surgery is recommended for people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity-related health conditions (such as diabetes, sleep apnoea, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, and heart disease).

It is recommended for people who have tried other forms of weight management (such as food changes, medication etc.) but have regained weight.

Bariatric surgery is offered to adults between 18-65 but your particular circumstances will be considered by the surgical team.

It requires considerable lifestyle change to help with the management of surgery in the longer term so you will need to feel comfortable to work with your surgical team.

Bariatric surgery is like a ‘top of the range’ power tool…. Unless you understand how to use it, it is likely to be less effective in the long term. 

3. Consider your health conditions – what can you expect to change?

While bariatric surgery primarily focuses on weight loss, it can also have positive effects on various health conditions. However, it is important to be realistic about what change is possible.  Here are some common health conditions that may show resolution or improvement after bariatric surgery:

  1. Type 2 diabetes: Bariatric surgery can lead to significant improvement or even remission of type 2 diabetes. This effect is often noticed shortly after surgery, even before significant weight loss occurs. The exact mechanisms behind this improvement are not fully understood but are believed to involve changes in gut hormones and insulin sensitivity.
  2. High blood pressure: Many patients with hypertension experience a decrease in blood pressure following bariatric surgery. Weight loss and improved insulin sensitivity contribute to the reduction in blood pressure levels.
  3. Sleep apnoea: Bariatric surgery can lead to improvement or resolution of sleep apnoea, a condition characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep. As weight loss occurs, the severity of sleep apnoea tends to decrease, leading to better sleep quality and reduced symptoms.
  4. High cholesterol: Bariatric surgery can positively impact cholesterol levels, leading to reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and increased HDL (good) cholesterol. These improvements are often observed in parallel with weight loss.
  5. Joint pain: Excess weight puts additional stress on the joints, leading to conditions like osteoarthritis and chronic joint pain. Bariatric surgery-induced weight loss can significantly reduce joint pain and improve mobility. However, it will not lead to the resolution of pain caused by other health conditions.
  6. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Women with PCOS often experience hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and difficulty losing weight. Bariatric surgery can help improve hormonal profiles, normalize menstrual cycles, and enhance fertility in women with PCOS.

It's important to note that individual results may vary, and the resolution or improvement of health conditions after bariatric surgery is not guaranteed. Your surgical team will help you to understand what is realistic for you.

4. Are you ready to make lifestyle changes?

Bariatric surgery is not a quick fix but a tool to assist with weight loss. Successful outcomes are often dependent on making significant lifestyle changes in terms of diet, exercise, and overall behaviour.

  • Do you feel ready to commit to the long-term changes you will need to make?
  • Do you feel ready to work with the surgical team to understand the habit changes that will help with the long-term success of your surgery?
  • Will you commit to taking the vitamins and minerals that are recommended lifelong?

5. Is now the right time for you?

Whilst life is always busy, sometimes there are things going on for us that take more attention and energy. If you’re just about to move house, start a new job, end a relationship, or after the death of a loved one, you will have less practical and emotional space to focus on your recovery.

Consider your mental and emotional readiness for bariatric surgery. Understand that the procedure itself will not address underlying emotional issues or difficult relationships with food. Consider if you have the necessary resources and support to address these aspects alongside the physical changes.

During your assessment, you will be able to discuss the ideal timing of the surgery for you.

6. Consider risks and complications

Like any surgical procedure, bariatric surgery carries risks. Familiarize yourself with potential complications, both short-term and long-term, such as infection, bleeding, nutrient deficiencies, gallstones, or complications related to the surgical alterations. Also consider the longer-term risks and complications.

Discuss these risks with your surgical team and ensure you have a thorough understanding. With our team you will have an additional appointment with the surgeon to go through all of the things you can expect with surgery and the risks to you. It is helpful to bring someone with you to ask the questions you might forget!

7. Consider your support system

Consider your support system. Bariatric surgery requires a strong support network to help you through the process, both before and after the surgery. Seek support from friends, family, or support groups who can provide encouragement, guidance, and accountability.

If you would like further support or would like to meet with our team for an assessment, click on the 'book now' button at the top of this page to arrange a time to suit you.

Let us know how we can support you

0117 235 5354

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