Sunday, September 14, 2008
After WLS: Not What I Was Expecting
I read and write a lot about weight loss surgery, and more importantly, LIVING after weight loss surgery. Recently I received an email from a disappointed post-surgical weight loss patient. This patient had only lost 10 (ten) pounds. She was discouraged and anxious. And she was 7 (seven) days post surgery ready to give the 5 Day Pouch Test a try since "the surgery did not work for her." How sad and frustrating for her and me. She does not need to feel like a failure and my words of "be patient, let the surgery work" felt trite. There are many misconceptions about weight loss surgery that lead to disappointment. This is one of my syndicated articles that addresses this topic:
Misconceptions About Weight Loss Surgery Cause Disappointment for Patients
As weight loss surgery becomes an increasingly popular treatment for morbid obesity misconceptions abound. Patients who undergo gastric bypass or gastric banding surgeries are often depressed and disappointed after surgery because they believed the popular misconceptions.
Some common misconceptions about WLS:
Surgery brings joy and boundless energy instantaneously
Laparoscopic surgery is painless
WLS is an easy fix and permanent fix to obesity
WLS guarantees happiness
Others will support the WLS decision
After reaching goal weight patients can go "back to normal"
Because patients read about the joy and boundless energy enjoyed by others after surgery they assume these feelings occur immediately. Joy is felt after massive weight loss, not after surgery. In fact, for many patients the first six weeks out of surgery are emotionally draining as they grieve for food and feel fatigued and disoriented.
We read that the laparoscopic technique used for 85 percent of all surgical weight loss procedures is minimally invasive requiring little recovery time. In truth this technique bruises the intestines, liver and ribs. The surgery is painful and recovery is not as rapid as most patients expect. Patients express feelings of failure when they are sore and exhausted from surgery.
For most patients weight loss happens quickly and easily. True to dieting tradition when patients reach goal weight they tend to go back to “normal” disregarding the high-protein low-volume diet. Weight gain results. Unless patients follow the strict WLS rules daily they regain weight.
Surgical weight loss does not guarantee happiness. In fact, patients commonly describe feelings of anger, bitterness, resentment, panic and self-loathing as they lose weight. They also express happiness, satisfaction, pleasure, delight and self-love. The pendulum of emotions swings wide.
Having WLS exposes one to attacks from others who feel entitled to criticize the gluttonous sloth that we could not lose weight by eating less and exercising more. Not all people, including spouses, siblings, parents and friends will support the decision for WLS.
Read more about emotions and weight loss
Weight loss surgery is a lifetime commitment to an extremely restrictive lifestyle that if used successfully will enable a former morbidly obese person to maintain a healthy weight and diminish the co-morbidities of obesity. It should never be considered the “easy way out” or a “quick fix.” It is a lifetime commitment with no returning to normal.