Sunday, December 18, 2011

Uncomfortable topics no one wants to discuss after gastric bypass

After you have weight loss surgery, a lot of things will change.  Most of them will be positive changes, but there are a lot of possible issues that people don't like to talk about.  Everyone will have their own issues to deal with. Here are a compilation of issues I have either run into myself or have had my support group members bring up.

     1.     Relationships will change.  Prior to surgery, I attempted to pinpoint who might be a "problem" in my life.  Post-surgery, I was wrong.  People I expected to be jealous were very supportive.  Others I didn't foresee being a problem caused a lot of drama in my life.  After you lose a lot of weight, relationships with significant others, friends and family will change.  Many people accused me of becoming a bitch after I lost weight.  I just realized how many people were using me and started standing up for myself. 

     2.     You will feel hunger again.  Many people believe they will never feel the sensation of hunger again.  The feeling will return.  The timeframe is different for everyone.  For me, it took a year or so.  For others, its right away.  The feeling can be scary for some of us.  For me, an empty stomach was almost painful, even though I wasn't in any real pain.  So learning that its ok to feel a little hungry was important.

     3.     Therapy should be a requirement.  Most of us don't actually ever feel true hunger.  We eat constantly to avoid that feeling.  But we feel "head hunger."  We generally over-ate for emotional reasons.  The surgery will not fix this.  I strongly suggest therapy to every single person who has weight loss surgery. 

     4.     Vitamins are more important than you think.  If you have gastric bypass specifically, vitamins are extremely important.  We are malabsorptive post-surgery and won't get our vitamins from food.  You should have blood tests every single year.  Here are the blood labs I still have my doctor run every year:  CBC; serum iron; serum folate; liver panel - AST, ALT, Alk, Phos, Tbili, direct bili, albumin; B12; serum calcium, electrolytes and cholesterol panel.

Here are some other posts on the subject.

The only update is that this year I was found to be anemic so I do take iron on a daily basis now.

     5.     Constipation hurts.  No way around this one.  It's an uncomfortable subject but it's one I wish someone had warned me about.  Take a stool softener earlier rather than later.  The pain is unbearable.  I now add whole ground flax seed to my protein shake, which helps with the issue. 

     6.     Your hair will fall out.  But you won't go bald.  Get your protein and vitamins in.  If you are really worried, you can use a shampoo like Nioxin.  But mostly just change your hairstyle, wait it out, and your gorgeous hair will return. 

     7.     You will deal with weight gain at some point.  We all do.  Some have bigger issues than others with it.  But we will all come to a point where the surgery is no longer "working" for us and we have to do it on our own.  When it does happen, take care of it when its only five pounds.  Don't wait until its 20, 50 or 100.   

     8.     Exercise is key.  I should have made this number one.  The minute you can get out of the hospital bed, start exercising and never, never, never ever stop. 

     9.     Addiction transfer is very real.  You ate for a reason.  When you can't eat anymore, you may pick another bad habit.  Alcohol.  Shopping.  Be aware of it and refer back to Item Number 3.

     10.  Support groups are a life line.  Some people come to a meeting or two and then think they don't need a support group.  Other people stop going once they gain a little weight.  They are embarrassed or think they have failed.  But that's exactly when they should be asking for help.  

     11.     Plastic surgery is your choice and only you can decide if it's right for you.  It's a choice I made.  I didn't like feeling like a Shar-pei.  I also feel like it is what helps "keep me honest."  Gaining weight once everything has been tightened hurts. 


Here is a post I wrote in March 2011 on my 7th surgiversary, which lists all of my gastric bypass blogs for the previous year.

Here is another post about a book that might be helpful.

Weight loss surgery (gastric bypass, lap-band, gastric sleeve, etc.) is a tool.  I've heard many, many statistics about how many people actually keep their weight off after surgery.  None are very encouraging.  Most say that a lot of people only maintain 50% of their weight loss at five years out.  That's depressing to me.  That also tells me that a lot of people are not taking surgery very seriously.  Be smart and work your program as hard as you can so that you can be a successful weight loss surgery patient. 

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