Surgery is not the final answer. How many times have you heard that? It’s true, and that is our mission as bariatric surgeons; to inform potential patients of their options regarding bariatric surgery.
We all stress that success depends on choosing the appropriate surgical procedure, changing your diet, including exercise in your new lifestyle, and taking bariatric supplements on a daily basis. And if truth were known, most all patients will lose significant weight in the immediate post-operative period. How many patients, prior to bariatric surgery, were successful in losing weight, but ended up regaining the weight previously lost, plus a little more? How do you prevent this from happening after bariatric surgery? Our program stresses that success depends on employing a healthy transition from weight loss to weight maintenance at the appropriate time in the postoperative period.
Phase one is the initial weight loss after surgery, assisting the patient to achieve their goal in weight loss within an appropriate postoperative period. As all patients will tell you, the lifestyle changes employed after surgery are essential to successful weight loss and resolution of pre-operative co morbidities. But when you achieve your weight loss goal, do you do anything different to maintain your weight loss?
We tell our patients that the “transition period” is an important ingredient in the recipe of success. The “transition period” is the point in your post operative journey that you transition from losing weight to maintaining your weight. Unfortunately we see patients who decide to “transition” too early in their postoperative period, and plateau with their weight loss. This premature “transition” contributes to the loss of valuable momentum in the immediate postoperative period, and can result in the patient becoming discouraged, possibly affecting the patient’s success.
Our patients learn that there are subtle differences in the way they eat, exercise, and supplement in the “weight loss phase”, as compared to the “weight maintenance phase”. Our program dietitians, support group leaders, and mid level providers assist in this transition, and determine the appropriate time to do so. Make sure you follow your program’s recommendations, including participating in regular office visits and support group attendance, in order to maximize your success.
By: Dr. Ken Mitchell, Jr., bariatric surgeon and medical director of the Roper St. Francis Bariatric & Metabolic Services program