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Bariatric Surgery – How to become a winner at losing

Bariatric surgery is a surgical procedure to help patients lose weight, reduce the risk of life threatening conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and improve the overall quality of life.

Weight loss surgery is not a cure for obesity.  It is, however, a powerful tool to help you jump-start your weight loss and begin your journey to improved health and fitness.  It involves commitment, support, and the determination to succeed.

Here are eight tips to help you become successful at losing weight with bariatric surgery and keeping it off, courtesy of some of our most successful patients at Wake Specialty Physicians – General Surgery Bariatric Surgery Program.

1.      Family support is key to keeping the weight off. Be clear about your weight loss goals and desire for better health and talk to your family about it. Help them help you by requesting that dinners out have several, tasty healthy options on the menu or inviting your kids to join you as you walk for exercise.

2.      Motivation is more than willpower. It’s the engine that drives you toward success. Find something that motivates you to reconnect to the purpose of your weight loss journey. It could be as simple as carrying a photo of your children in your wallet or listening to an empowering song.

3.      Start eating healthy foods before surgery. It’s tempting to wait until after surgery to incorporate healthy foods in your diet. But adding a small salad to a meal or discovering whether you like yogurt vs. cottage cheese now will help you make better food choices later.

4.      Meal planning helps you avoid the temptations that come during the day like the tray of doughnuts that magically appear in the break room or the four o’clock snack attacks. Plan ahead for small meals during the day and stick to your grocery list when shopping.

5.      Lose as much weight as possible before surgery. Some programs will require you lose weight before the surgery to demonstrate your commitment. But more importantly there is a medical reason for the pre-operative diet.  Pre-surgical weight loss reduces the amount of fat stored in the liver making surgery easier for your surgeon and safer for you.

6.      Join a support group. While the help of family and friends is essential in maintaining your weight loss, nothing beats getting together on a regular basis with people who share your experiences. Support groups offer educational information, peer support, and nutritional, fitness and medical advice.  In this comfortable forum, members have an opportunity to ask questions as well as share experiences, tips, and advice.

7.      Continue with eating habits and exercise. Remember, it’s not about the surgery. It’s about developing a healthy lifestyle that includes eating right and exercising. Doing both will ensure your success on your weight loss journey.

8.      Count the cost. If bariatric surgery is covered by your health insurance, you may only need to pay the required co-payment or deductible.  If you are paying out-of-pocket, the surgery can cost between $17,000 and $35,000 depending on the type of surgery (lap band vs. gastric bypass), geographic location of the treatment center, the bariatric surgeon’s experience, and level of post-op treatment. Make sure you have a clear picture of all of the costs and what your insurance covers before deciding to have surgery.

For more tips and information, attend the “Bariatric Challenge Breakthrough” this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Embassy Suites at Crabtree, 4700 Creedmoor Road in Raleigh.  Interested participants can register online.  The registration fee is $59 and includes lunch and your take-home challenge kit.  This event is sponsored by Wake Specialty Physicians – General Surgery Bariatric Surgery program.

Erin Akey and the Bariatric Guru Team will motivate and educate you in addition to making you laugh and think. Working closely with others who have similar goals, you will spend a motivational day addressing important topics such as nutrition, cooking, commitment to success, and emotional considerations.

Carol F. Kunkel, BA, BSN, RN is the Bariatric Program Coordinator at Wake Specialty Physicians Bariatric Surgery.