Walking Alongside the Bariatric Patient’s Journey, A Nurse’s PerspectiveNovember 25, 2020
A Bariatric Patient's Journey
From my experience as a bariatric nurse, I'll explain the process of a bariatric patient's journey so you know what to expect. The decision to pursue weight loss surgery is a difficult one, and never something that is decided on a whim. Typically, individuals have attempted to lose weight on their own for many years and tried various diets, all with either limited success or an inability to maintain long-term.
Many individuals consider weight loss surgery, but not all will choose to pursue it. This is the journey of those that make the decision that weight loss surgery is needed to improve their health, quality of life, and happiness.
First Step in a Bariatric Patient's Journey
The first step in the process is selecting a surgeon and scheduling a new patient visit. You should also expect to meet with a registered dietitian as nutrition is a huge aspect of your success long-term.
The process to undergo weight loss surgery can sometimes be a lengthy one, and the length is determined by your insurance company. The average timeframe from having your new patient visit to being eligible for surgery is 3-6 months. During this time, you will meet with a dietitian to complete weight loss documentation for your insurance requirements and complete medical testing requested by your surgeon.
Getting a surgery date produces a mix of emotions such as excitement and also anxiety as the reality that what you have been working toward all these months is finally here.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions regarding how to prepare in the days leading up to your surgery. On average, surgery will last a couple of hours and you will be in the hospital for one night. The majority of patients remark to me on how little pain they experience postoperatively and that they are able to move around much easier than anticipated. Everyone’s postoperative road to recovery varies.
The Only Regret is not Doing This Sooner
Some may find diet progression challenging and others might sail through without any issues.
There is one thing that I can tell you that ALL patients express to me at some point, and that is that their only regret is not doing this sooner.
As you get yourself into the rhythm of a new schedule of drinking your fluids, eating smaller and more frequent protein-based meals, taking your vitamins, and exercising, the weight loss begins. It is the establishment of these healthy habits that will help you achieve significant weight loss and maintain it long-term.
Surgery is not a quick fix nor an easy way out when it comes to losing weight. It takes hard work, perseverance, and consistency to see the results, but with this, you will achieve your goals. Somewhere between 6 and 12 months after your surgery, everything that was somewhat of a challenge, in the beginning, will now feel like second nature.
You will find yourself taking your vitamins consistently, focusing on fluid and protein intake, making time for exercise, and ultimately choosing to take care of YOU.
Remember that although you may now be feeling better than you ever have, it is important to maintain long-term follow-up with your bariatric program. At our practice, we follow our patients life-long to ensure that each and every one of them maintain their success and health long-term.
Having weight loss surgery is a decision that will set you on the journey to finding your true self and regaining your health!
ABOUT THE AUTHORRebekah Richardson MSN, CRNP has worked in bariatrics since December 2015. Prior to this, she worked in gastroenterology for 4 years. She currently is a Nurse Practitioner at LifeBridge Health Bariatrics Program. She enjoys helping individuals meet their goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In her free time she enjoys camping, lifting weights, running, and board games.