weight loss surgery

6 Things I Wish I’d Known About Weight Loss Surgery

February 11, 2013

Are you a weight loss surgery pre-op or early post-op?  There have been many twists and turns in my own weight loss surgery journey. I believe in paying it forward so I'd like to share the 6 things I wish I'd known as a weight loss surgery pre-op and early post-op.

I had RNY (gastric bypass) surgery in 2001.  I lost 147 pounds in addition to my co-morbidities, namely Type II diabetes.  As a weight loss surgery pre-op, I did lots of research on the various procedures that were options for me and how life as a post-op would be.  My surgeon was one of the best in the country with a multi-disciplinary post-op program.  Between my own research and the education provided by my surgeon, I believed I knew what I needed to know.  While this was true, there were some hard lessons that came along the way during my weight loss surgery journey that I wasn't prepared for.

For anyone that is a weight loss surgery pre-op or new post-op out there, below are the 6 things that I wish I'd known as a pre-op and early post-op to avoid some twists and turns in my weight loss surgery journey.  Lessons that possibly would have saved me re-losing a few re-gained pounds, making my focus on my health instead of focusing so much on the numbers of pounds lost, that weight loss surgery results in changes on the outside but I needed to change my mindset as well, and how to make the post-op lifestyle a reality and not just another form of diet.

6 Things I Wish I'd Known About Weight Loss Surgery

1. Don't take your surgery for granted.
Your weight loss surgery is a gift for you to use.  I used to play kickball as a child.  The rules were if you messed up the first kick in your turn, you got a do-over turn.  Think of your weight loss surgery as a do-over for your health.  We became morbidly obese and unhealthy.  Now with weight loss surgery, we have a second chance, a do-over turn.  Don't mess up your do-over by taking your surgery for granted.

2. Just because you've lost weight doesn't mean you won't find it again.
I didn't realize that once I lost weight right after I'd had my RNY that was the optimum time to lose it.  Weight regain can happen.  You can re-lose weight that you've re-gained but it is more difficult than it was as a new post-op.  Make the most of your time early post-op, follow your surgeon's protocols and protect those pounds you've lost by not falling back into old habits, even during a difficult transition.

3. Life after having weight loss surgery means you have to change your habits for life.
When you hear that you need to make healthy habits as a lifestyle, take it seriously.  It is more than a catchy phrase, it means to change your life.  Change your old habits and replace with new, healthy habits.  Life happens and when it does, your healthy habits are already solidly in place.  When you change your habits and lifestyle, you'll be able to successfully navigate the twists and turns without reverting back to the old habits that made you need weight loss surgery in the first place.

4. When you reach your goal weight, it doesn't mean you'll stay there automatically.
To lose weight through weight loss surgery is one thing but maintaining it isn't magical by any means.  Promise yourself daily that you'll do the work necessary to maintain your weight loss AND your health.  It isn't just a given because you've had weight loss surgery.  The habits you have and the choices you make daily help you to lose weight and maintain it.  No matter where you are in your WLS journey, one of the most important things you can do is track your food and activity.  It gives you the accountability to stay on track.

5. It takes a team.
Whether you are a pre-op, new post-op or long-term post-op like I am, we need each other. Each of us give and take with each other. On ObesityHelp, we share our own experiences, opinions, and information to support others regardless of where they are on their own weight loss surgery journey.  One of the many special things about ObesityHelp is us - OH members.  ObesityHelp members get it and understand that reading posts on an ObesityHelp message board at 2:30 a.m. can circumvent the strongest of sugar cravings.

6. Success from weight loss surgery is an inside job too.
My wonderful surgeon performed surgery on my stomach but not on my brain.  When weight loss surgery is referred to as a tool, it is true.  It is up to each one of us to use that tool. Success from weight loss surgery is more than finding the right recipes or working out.  While making the right food choices and exercising are very important, we need to get to the bottom of what is eating us that is causing us to eat.  When you can answer "What is eating you to cause you to eat?" you start to silence the head hunger that is emotional eating.

cathy wilson


Cathy Wilson, PCC, BCC, had RNY surgery in 2001 and lost 147 pounds. Cathy is a regular contributor to the OH Blog and authored the "Mind Matters" column in ObesityHelp Magazine. Cathy is a licensed pilot and loves flying. She is a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) and the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC).

Read more articles by Cathy!