So you’ve decided to have gastric bypass! That’s really exciting, and you should be very proud of your decision. But, how do you prepare for a gastric bypass operation?
I had my surgery in 2016, and researched everything I could to prepare.
How does someone prepare for a gastric bypass operation? It’s like preparing to climb Mount Everest. Can you really prep for something like that?
I’m a prepper by nature, and I typically overanalyze and then stress over the anticipation. This all turns into anxiety, and then you have to beat the anxiety now, too.
I understand if you are this way, because that’s how I work.
So, to relieve your anxiety over surgery, let’s go over everything you need to know to prepare for a gastric bypass operation. I mean, everything.
How to Prepare for a Gastric Bypass Operation
- Consume your surgeon’s instructions. It’s not enough to just read it, you need to understand it.
- Get your follow-up doctor in place
- Identify your support network verses your sabotage network
- Set your weight loss expectations
- Set your timeframe expectations
- Learn the basics for WHY the surgery will work
- Gather the gear you’ll need after surgery
- Prepare your house or space to support your recovery
- Plan where you will walk after surgery
Consume Your Surgeon’s Instructions
Your surgeon has likely done this surgery a few times.
I’d be willing to bet on that one. And he or she will have some instruction that isn’t just fluff, it’s given to you for a reason. They know what you need to do in order to qualify for surgery through their practice.
Follow this instruction to prepare for a gastric bypass operation. You won’t find a better, more specific and individually tailored resource than your own surgeon.
But, you’d be surprised how many people do not trust the information provided.
Your surgeon will likely understand the most common complications, and the instructions will be provided to help you prevent or avoid those. Read everything your surgeon gives you.
Get Your Follow-Up Doctor In Place
Sometimes your surgeon is not the same as your follow-up doctor.
This can absolutely be the case in medical tourism, where a patient will visit another country in order to get the surgery they want.
For whatever reason, they aren’t going to get the surgery locally. So, having a local doctor who will accept you as a patient is so important to prepare for having a gastric bypass operation.
There are blood panels you need done regularly. They need to monitor your recovery. This is major surgery.
There are questions you’ll have that you’ll think are really scary and need immediate answers (Did I stretch my pouch? Do I have a hernia?).
You don’t want to go to the urgent care or ER for every one of these questions, or hope the internet does a good enough job to diagnose you. You need to be able to call someone and say do I come in or do I calm down.
Identify your support network verses your sabotage network
Of all the surprises that come after surgery, this one is perhaps the most shocking.
Why would people actively be out to sabotage your goal of living a healthier life? People are weird, which is something I say often.
Weird can be good or bad. In this case, it’s bad. The people who will support you are going to let you follow your plan without getting in the way.
Getting in the way looks like a spouse who just wants to eat out instead of eating the stuff on your plan, or a friend at work who says you must not like them anymore because you don’t spend time with them (and food) in the way they are familiar.
It is subtle things, like the way a parent or person you admire makes just one casual comment about how you’re not a nice person when you’re dieting.
They aren’t sabotaging on purpose, and they’d probably not see it as sabotage even if you pointed it out. This doesn’t make them bad people, it just really makes your success so much harder.
Get this in place to prepare for your gastric bypass operation before hand.
How To Change Sabotage to Support After Gastric Bypass
Once you’ve identified the people who will be out to sabotage, you can do two things. You can ditch them, or you can retrain them through positive reinforcement.
This one is better, because you can’t just run away from everyone who is going to get in the way. So, the best course of action is to ignore the behavior you don’t like, and reward the behavior you want them to do.
Reward them with praise, like “Oh my gosh, thank you for not suggesting we eat out tonight. I know it’s this really small thing to you, but it’s a really huge thing to me!”
Or “You telling me you believe in me means the world. It makes me really think you care.” When they say bad things, ignore it. Don’t even respond.
Even better, if someone else in the group gives you support in the smallest ways, call it out in a big, grateful way. Make a big deal about it.
In preparing for a gastric bypass operation, you’re also training your support group to be supportive, not running from everyone who has an unintentionally painful comment.
Set Your Weight Loss Expectation For Gastric Bypass Surgery
At 70-80% of excess weight loss, a gastric bypass patient can expect to lose the most amount of weight out of all of the bariatric surgeries available.
That’s what makes this one so appealing. But that is a range, and everyone is different. I did lose 100% of my excess weight, because I worked out like a beast.
If you’re not planning to be working out a crazy amount after surgery, set your expectations to the lower end of the range.
- Get your starting weight
- What is your goal weight?
- Do the math: starting weight minus your goal weight
This is the excess amount of weight you’re going to aim to lose. Now, what’s 70-80% of THAT number. That’s your expectations for weight loss, if you’re not planning to workout hardcore.
Set Your Timeframe Expectation
If you’re above 300 pounds, it will probably take a lot longer to lose the excess weight than someone under 300 pounds after gastric bypass surgery.
The more weight you have to lose, the more time it is going to take. It can feel like you have a time limit after surgery, because of the 18 month “Honeymoon” phase.
This phase is where the weight just jumps off the body, but it’s not forever. The weight loss slows down, so the best thing to do is to really make the most of this time.
But! That does not mean that you won’t be able to lose weight when you are outside of your honeymoon phase. It’s just not going to fly off as fast.
If you can set your mind from the time of surgery to forever until I hit my goal weight I will follow my plan, then you’ll be successful.
For some reason, we all get into this frame of mind that once I’m out of my 18 months I’ll need a revision to jumpstart again.
The jumpstart is just the one-time. Then, you’ve just got to stick with it. Trust that it will happen, and don’t stop until you get it!
Learn the Basics for WHY the Surgery Will Work
This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for surgery. Why is it going to work? Check out my post, The Weird Reason Why Gastric Bypass Really Works, to get more information on the why.
This information is so important for your success, because when you ARE out of the 18 month honeymoon phase, you need to know what to do to keep your success going.
Or, if you have some regain, like pregnancy weight, how will you get it off again?
The behaviors and food choices we have after surgery are going to have such an impact on the entirety of our lives that we have to get this right during our 18 month training session.
You know the How, that’s all from your surgeon, but the Why is important here. Check out the above article. You need to know this.
Gather the Gear You’ll Need After Surgery
Your surgeon will have a list of the medical things you should have after surgery, like prescription medicines or protein shakes. These are the not-so-obvious stuff that I would recommend based on my own experience:
- AN ABDOMINAL BINDER, SPANX OR SHAPEWARE. Help your body out – and prevent loose skin – by wearing compression garments.
I do NOT understand why so many people recommend not wearing one. I have definitely seen the benefit from wearing some sort of compression garment to reduce my extra skin. Not only that, but to define my silhouette after surgery and after the extreme weight loss phase.
I’m not hot, because by default I’m generally cold all the time anyway. I don’t HAVE to wear it all of the time, and the times when I chose not to wear one my silhouette is still in shape.
My skin around my waist has absolutely benefitted. I wish I’d worn it around my thighs, too. Because I have lose skin there. And so I know it works!
Don’t let anyone talk you out of this for whatever their own reasons may be. If your skin isn’t damaged to the point that it cannot shrink back up, there’s no reason to think it won’t.
You won’t know which part of your skin won’t come back until you hit goal weight. So, you may as well try. You’ll thank yourself later.
Click to purchase one today, and then wear it!
- A JOURNAL – You have to track your triggers, and the non-food related things you can do to cope. Track what’s going on so you can improve upon it!
I carry two journals with me all of the time. One to track my emotions, and the other to track my ideas.
I like to keep them separate, but I’ve been journaling for years. Just start out with one. Make it pretty, and something you like to grab and carry around.
Then, spill your guts. It’s such good therapy. It’s a good coping mechanism instead of eating. And, best of all, you can look back on your time and remember. You can use the data you write down to make more informed decisions later.
Journaling is such a good habit/coping mechanism!
- A go-to hydration source – how do you drink right now? Do you use re-usable cups, or are you always at the fast food place with a huge soda?
This one is super important, because you need to use the bad habits you have now to boost your after surgery habits.
I hate lugging around a water bottle with me everywhere, though, you’ll be told a million and a half times that the successful patients are the ones who are never far from their sugar-free liquids. It’s true, but like, how?
Here’s what I know: I found comfort when I had a large soda in my hand, like a 32 ounce cup from Taco Bell. I’d drink that over and over and over again.
So, I should always have a plastic Taco Bell soda cup, with a ton of ice and water, and sugar-free flavoring. I just have to not put soda in there.
Drink out of a straw, or drink out of those straw-less lids from Starbucks. Whatever. I’m not judging. It’s more important that you don’t end up in the ER with an IV than if you drank out of a straw.
That’s where I stand on the great straw debate.
This four pack tumbler comes with lids, a reusable straw, and a bunch of colors for variety. These are perfect for cutting out cute vinyl sayings or patterns on your Cricut, too.
That sounds like a really fun craft night with your family to let them help you prepare for your gastric bypass operation, too.
They should absolutely be encouraged to put funny sayings on the cups, like “Water Weight” or “I’m Not There Yet, But I’m Closer Than I Was Yesterday.”
- Some kind of macro-nutrient counter – I use the free version of MyFitnessPal, and enter in my foods.
I don’t care about the calorie counter very much, but if you’re on the mobile app, and click on the three lines in the top left corner, choose nutrition. It’s going to show your protein goals and what protein you’ve eaten.
That’s going to be a much better way to count your protein.
Who cares about the calories? You just work on getting in as much protein, and stopping when you feel the restriction. If you’re losing regain, work on portion control.
No more than half the size of your palm, starting with protein.
- Day-planner – What do you need to prepare for? It’s got to be in your planner.
Got a party coming up? Put it in your planner, and then make sure you’ve either got a snack in your bag that you can eat if you get hungry and they only have food that’ll make you dump.
By now, you’re probably sick of hearing me talk about the day-planner. It’s seriously that important, though. Use it to track your food, your mood, and your weight – all in one place.
Successfully plan for your gastric bypass operation by getting used to using your planner.
Prepare Your House or Space to Support Your Recovery After Gastric Bypass
- YOUR BED: This is major abdominal surgery, so you need to set up a recovery space for yourself. You’ll want to sleep in a reclining position for about 4-6 weeks. That left side shark-bite scar is no joke. It’s going to hurt to sit or stand. Help yourself out, by finding a sleeping place that accommodates this. You don’t have to sleep in your bedroom, but check with the woman of the house, first.
- THE KITCHEN: Do you need a dedicated space for your liquids or semi-soft foods in the pantry or fridge? You’ll want to make a place where all your stuff goes, so when you’re in a moment of need, you can get it fast. You’re definition of fast food is going to change. I need it now, or I’m going to do something dumb. Plan for the moments when you’re going to do something dumb, because it’ll happen.
- THE BATHROOM: Sitting down on the toilet might be harder than you realize after surgery. I’d just bought a new house from an older guy right before my surgery. He had rails in the bathroom next to the toilet and in the shower. I was SO THANKFULL!!! I had no idea how hard it would be to do stupid easy stuff I’d never had trouble with pre-surgery. I’d never have installed those things on my own, but if I were to go through surgery again I’d absolutely put 4 screws into the wall to install a rail. Then, once I could move around again after 6 weeks, just take it down. Also, get a little stool to elevate your feet when you’re going to the bathroom. It’s a HUGE lifesaver for hard bowel movements, or for cramping intestines.
Plan Where You Will Walk After Surgery
Walking is the BEST exercise right after surgery. You must walk. Even if you don’t think you can, you should. Move your body earlier to move recovery along faster.
You can’t roller skate till you can walk. And I think everyone should roller skate. Ha!
I remember when I was 16 years old I started exercising to a Richard Simmons tape. It was easy, because he knew what being fat was like, so he knew how to move as a fat person.
I loved his energy. My brother saw me, made fun of me, and I stopped. I wish I hadn’t. I still love Richard Simmons to this day.
He is a legend in the weight loss world for a reason. The most important takeaway from that is that people are going to look at you, and judge.
Especially if you are not able to move quickly or look beautiful in the activewear you bought to motivate you.
Planning ahead of time where you will walk can help you not to be surprised by a park that gets too busy. Maybe you’re going to join a gym, and plan to walk on the treadmill.
Wherever you decide, plan it now. Make it somewhere you like to go, and look forward to going.
So much of your success is going to rely on how well you plan and STICK to your plan. Learn everything you can, plan for what you can think of, and be flexible to pivot when you need.
You’re going to be doing this gastric bypass stuff for the rest of your life.
That sounds terrifying and a lot like commitment. Gastric bypass, or any weight loss surgery, isn’t for the faint of heart, or for the casual weight loss seeker.
This is “heavy” stuff… pun intended. Don’t be scared of it, but use it to fuel your motivation. Keep researching everything you can in order to really figure out Why you are doing this so you know How to be successful.
Check out this awesome resource for more info from the surgeons over at The Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery.
Happy weight loss! <3