Why Do I Need to Lose Weight Before Weight Loss Surgery?

“You need to lose weight before you undergo surgery.”

Wait, what? Isn’t losing weight the point of having the surgery? After all, you have repeatedly tried and have failed as many times to lose the weight you have been trying to get rid of.

That’s why you’re having the procedure done!

Well, it might be a bit confusing, but trust us: it’s absolutely necessary.

Let’s walk you through the reasons why losing weight before bariatric surgery is a must.

Why is weight loss prior to the surgical procedure necessary?

Here are some reasons for losing weight before weight loss surgery.

It shows your commitment to weight loss.

Weight loss is a long and arduous journey. If you are categorized as obese, losing weight becomes tougher.

Data shows that before coming in for bariatric surgery, 95% have already tried but failed to lose weight through diet modification and exercise alone in the long term. Within 5 years of weight loss, 8 out of 10 individuals regain the weight.

Sustaining weight loss for the long haul, therefore, needs to be accompanied by a variety of weight loss modalities, not just surgery. This includes losing weight before surgery through lifestyle changes such as diet modification, food consumption, and level of physical activity. All these take an iron-clad commitment to ensure the success of the weight loss procedure and post-operation.

Individuals who can lose weight before the operation are more likely to follow through on their commitment to lifestyle changes to get rid of excess weight and keep it off permanently. Medical professionals see behavior modification before weight loss surgery, more than the procedure itself, as playing a critical role in the achievement of weight loss goals.

It improves your health condition even before you go in for surgery.

Individuals who opt for surgical procedures to lose weight usually have accompanying health conditions or comorbidities such as diabetes or heart disease. Coming in for weight loss surgery without adequate preparation may put individuals at high risk for complications during the procedure. These include blood clots, negative reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, infection, and poor wound healing in the surgical area.

Even a small percentage of weight loss before surgery benefits you in several ways. For example, surgery complications are minimized.

You see, an obese person’s heart needs to work harder to supply the blood and oxygen the body needs. That means the added stress of surgery on a patient’s heart may lead to heart attack, chest pain, stroke, or high blood pressure.

But if you lost weight beforehand, you will be at a lesser risk for these conditions, and you will even have a shorter postoperative hospital stay

It is a requirement by your medical team.

A good and experienced health care team will require patients coming in for bariatric surgery to have a weight loss plan in place. This plan involves losing anywhere from 5%-10% of your body weight as a result of behavioral and lifestyle changes.

You may need to meet with a nutritionist or a dietitian to operationalize changes in your diet and food consumption patterns from 3 – 6 months before surgery. Eating the right kinds of food in smaller portions helps your body become more attuned to healthier eating habits which you need to maintain post-operation.

It is an insurance coverage requirement.

Insurance companies require enrollment in a medically-supervised weight management program before approval of bariatric surgery. These programs usually last up to 6 months, with regular monitoring of weight loss and provision of dietary counseling. This is based on evidence that losing weight before surgery increases successful outcomes.

Those who are unable to complete a weight management program may be denied coverage by insurance for bariatric surgery. A patient may still opt to go ahead with weight loss surgery, but the full cost of up to $25,000 will be shouldered by the patient.

What are ways to lose weight before surgery?

Now that we know and understand the why of needing to lose weight before surgery, the next step is to know how to lose weight to qualify for bariatric surgery.

1. Get a weight loss plan.

Your weight loss plan should help you adjust to eating smaller portions of food. You also need to eat a balanced diet that consists of 30% non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, green beans, and squash best prepared by steaming.

Lean protein (chicken without the skin, fish, turkey, lean red meat) and whole grains should make up 25% of each of your meals. The remaining 20% should consist of fruits.

Needless to say, you should avoid the following: high-fat meat, starchy vegetables, sugary beverages, fast food, and fried food.

As the date of your surgery nears, you will transition to a low-sugar, low-fat, high protein, low carb, and full-liquid diet (water, low sodium broth, caffeine-free coffee or tea). Protein is especially important for healing as this promotes tissue repair after surgery.

On the other hand, avoid fat and sugar in your diet as they will increase the size of the liver. That way, the surgeons will find it easier to do laparoscopic surgery.

2. Engage in physical activity.

In preparation for surgery and to make sure you lose weight, regular physical activity or an exercise regimen should be in place. You can start out low and slow by incorporating more minutes of walking into your daily routine. Once you’ve gotten the hang of walking, try adding distance to your routine and even change it up a bit by choosing a route that goes uphill or that has more stairs.

To help you ramp up the level of your physical activity before surgery, you can ask a good friend to be your walking or exercise buddy. This will help you stay on course and to give you a morale boost for the days when you just don’t feel like indulging in any physical activity.

3. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.

Losing weight doesn’t only involve physical activity and eating well. If you have the wrong mindset, you will not succeed in losing weight.

Therefore, it is best if you surround yourself with a small circle of trusted family and friends that only has your best interest at heart as a support group. They will know the ups and downs of your weight loss journey and will provide you with much-needed support during down moments.

Also, do take note that individuals coming in for bariatric surgery are required to have a psychological evaluation to determine their mental preparedness for the pre and post-operative procedure. If you have any eating disorders, it is best to have that addressed before going through any surgical procedure.

Lose weight safely with Dr. David Davtyan.

If you need to know more about weight loss and weight loss procedures, there’s no one better to ask than Dr. David Davtyan. He will guide you through not only the surgery but also through what you need to do before and after the procedure. With over 28 years of experience and many successful patients, he’s the most qualified expert to contact.

Message him today – he looks forward to hearing from you!

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