At first, it may seem surprising: lifestyle changes, like healthy eating and more physical activity, should start even before you have weight-loss surgery. Isn’t that supposed to happen after?
It turns out that even small changes to your eating habits will likely bring some weight loss prior to bariatric surgery — and can make a big difference in what happens later.
“Making changes to your lifestyle and eating habits before your procedure not only gets your body into a better place to undergo surgery, it also helps you shift mentally toward your new healthier life,” says AdventHealth bariatric surgeon Dr. Marco Rajo. “It will make the transition very smooth and help you hit the ground running, so to speak.”
Getting a Head Start on Lasting Weight Loss
There are three main reasons for making lifestyle changes before bariatric surgery.
1. Learning Healthy Habits
You may be asked to take part in a doctor-supervised weight-loss program for a few months before surgery. “Many health insurance plans require this as a condition of coverage,” explains Dr. Rajo “and it’s a chance to learn about the lifestyle changes you’ll need to make after your operation.”
Your dietician can help you understand how you’ll want to meal plan, shop and so much more before and after surgery. You can practice choosing nutritious foods and working more physical activity into your day.
2. Reducing Surgical Risks
For the last few weeks before surgery, you might need to consume a special diet. It could involve reducing your carbohydrate intake and a couple of days of clear liquids.
“This type of diet not only helps take off pounds, it can also shrink your liver and reduce fat inside your abdomen, which makes surgery easier, quicker and safer,” says Dr. Rajo.
3. Potentially Improving Results
In the same study, patients who reached their pre-op weight-loss goal also did better after surgery. A year later, they had lost 7.5% more excess weight than those who didn’t reach their pre-op goal.
“We find that patients who are the most motivated to do the work before surgery are the most successful long-term,” says Dr. Rajo “Bariatric surgery can deliver dramatic results, but it’s up to you to make the choices that maintain your health year after year.”
Strategies for Pre-Op Success
In the weeks leading up to surgery, you’ll have a compassionate team of health professionals supporting you, including a dietitian and behavioral health specialist. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or discuss challenges with your team.
Keep your focus on the long-term rewards. Your efforts up front can help you prepare for a lifetime of better health after surgery.
Our whole-health approach to care includes support for body, mind and spirit. We understand that weight loss is about so much more than the physical. Your team is here for you as you prepare for this life-changing transformation.
Learn more about our comprehensive bariatric care here.