The process toward bariatric surgery can be relatively long, and most patients have some time to prepare for their procedure and their life after surgery. If you intend on paying for surgery out of pocket (cash pay), the process is significantly shorter as we don’t require insurance approval beforehand. If you expect to pay for at least part of the procedure with insurance, the total wait time may be upwards of three or even six months. However, in both cases, you have a reasonable amount of time to make some small, but significant changes to your life and lifestyle, which will better prepare you for the changes forthcoming.
During your consultation and pre-surgical appointments, we encourage you to ask your bariatric surgeon and our bariatric coordinator what you can do to reduce risk and improve the outcome of your surgery.
First, losing weight before your surgical procedure can improve outcomes. You must get on your diet and exercise plan even before surgery, so you are well prepared for what to expect after your procedure.
Get your support system ready. Support is a critical part of post-bariatric life. You can make it that much easier to slide back into everyday life by having your support team ready to go beforehand. Of course, our practice will be standing by to help in any way we can. However, you also need loved ones and friends around you to cheer you on, support you, and pick you up whenever you fall. You may wish to enlist friends or family to join you on the new diet and exercise plan. Not only does this make them an integral part of your new life, but they will get healthier too!
Speak to friends and family about your decision, your goals, and what you expect from them and yourself after surgery. You probably have already heard that things will change after surgery, and this is very true. As you lose weight, you will not be the same person you once were, both emotionally and physically. You may wish to experience social activities that you have avoided for years. Similarly, you may engage in physical activities that you couldn’t do prior. Your confidence and self-esteem may skyrocket as you realize how far you’ve come. While most will be thrilled about your success, it can be threatening for some, especially those who relied on the old you. Helping them understand whom you want to be and where you want to go allows them to accept or even follow you in that path.
Attend support groups. Visiting a support group may seem counterintuitive as most members will be post-surgery. However, this is the perfect time to start. You will get to know others who were once in your position, ask questions, and get advice.
Lastly, take great care in filling out the necessary paperwork and getting the required pre-op testing. One of the biggest hold-ups before surgery is simply not having everything in order and ready to go. If you are using insurance for your procedure, this is especially important as a denial, even for a clerical or minor error, can require weeks or even months to revisit and overturn.
The bottom line is that weight loss and a new life begin well before surgery. It begins the day you decide surgery is the appropriate next course of action. Make the most of your preoperative time and get straight to work. Not only will you be better able to cope with the changes after bariatric surgery, but you will likely be able to lose more weight as well.