It can be tricky to know what to expect after your weight loss surgery. You might notice some changes you hadn’t prepared for — or feel frustrated that some things haven’t changed as quickly as you’d hoped. This is all normal. Here are four areas where you might notice some changes — and tips on what you can do to help feel your best.
Your social life
Social activities often revolve around food and alcohol, so it’s important to think through strategies that will help you feel more comfortable in situations where you feel pressure or temptation to overindulge.
Should you tell people about your surgery?
There’s no right or wrong answer. Some people like to explain why they’re making changes so friends or family can provide more support and encouragement to make healthy choices. Others prefer not to talk so openly about weight loss surgery, often because they worry about being judged. If you decide to be more selective about who you tell, it’s a good idea to plan for how you’ll deal with social situations. Think about what you might say to feel more at ease. Some examples could include “I’ve had a big meal earlier", “I find I feel much better when I eat less” or “I’m taking a break from drinking.”
How to prepare for social outings
- Focus on what you enjoy — such as the people you’re spending time with, rather than the things you can’t eat or drink.
- Do some research before you go out. Look for places that do tapas, ‘small plates', or have a good range of healthy entrees. You may be able to ring ahead and discuss ordering smaller portions.
- Plan some activities where food and drinks don’t take centre-stage. Have your friends join you for a bushwalk, board games, some live music, or a comedy show. - Talk to others who’ve had weight loss surgery about their experiences and strategies too. Ask your doctor about support groups in your area or look for online groups where you can share ideas.
As you lose weight, your body will obviously change. Remember that it can take 1-2 years to reach your lowest weight, and it’s not unusual to gain some weight back, but you’ll very likely still weigh much less than before, and your health and wellbeing will still benefit. Talk to your doctor about what you can realistically expect as your body adjusts.
If you are losing weight to improve your fertility or would like to have a baby, it is important that you wait until after the first 12-18 months after surgery before you attempt to fall pregnant.
Losing lots of weight rapidly can lead to a large amount of loose skin. Some people aren’t too bothered by this, but for others, the excess skin can be difficult to deal with both physically and emotionally. Sometimes extra skin can cause chafing and infection, as well as change your appearance and impact your mobility. Strength training to tighten up your muscles can be helpful, and good skin care, compression garments and flattering clothing can help you to look and feel better. If the excess skin is causing a major impact on your life, you may also consider talking to your doctor about body contouring surgery after your weight has become stable.