Bariatric Surgery? The easy option to weight loss?

It can take up to a year to organise to have bariatric surgery, it can be a very public and emotional journey, requires different stages of food regulation, and approximately after a year of having surgery have a 20-30% chance to regain weight

Preparing for surgery

Before having surgery, a potential patient has several factors to consider.
  • Are you a candidate for bariatric surgery, and which type is best for you?
  • Getting a referral from their local doctor
  • Choose hospital or Surgeon, research what’s more important to you
  • Will you require travel and accommodation arrangements?
  • Decide how you are going to pay…. private health, superannuation, self-funded, a combination
  • Contact or apply private health fund
  • Apply for superannuation from the ATO
  • Take time off work for surgery
  • Do you have kids to organise care for?
  • What support systems do you have in place or will you need… personal trainer, dietician, physiotherapist, psychologist
Preparing for bariatric surgery takes a lot of preparation. To have the best results, it can take a lot of money, time and research.

Peers, family and friends

When someone is considering bariatric surgery, it isn’t something which they decide overnight, and usually it has been a private thought process with only rebounding concerns from the closest of people. After booking their surgery, there are some people who feel like they will be ridiculed, there will be talking behind their backs, or be treated differently. The truth is that it’s true. There are people who may behave this way. There will also be a lot of people who will be supportive. Unfortunately, these people may also do more damage than good through policing. This is when surrounding people are always putting in their 2 cents, such as:
  • Should you be eating that
  • You should eat……. It helps you lose weight
  • I haven’t seen you get any exercise today, you should go after dinner
This can actually make people eat more, avoid suggestions from actual professionals and refuse to exercise. If the person chooses not to tell people about their surgery there will be comments on sudden change of food choices and quantities, along with weight loss. When the sudden changes happen at times people may make their own assumptions and usually think the worse, such as having:
  • cancer
  • bulimia or anorexia
  • other illness or disease
They do not have to answer to anyone but themselves, after all if someone chooses to have surgery, it is completely their right and choice to do so. It will be up to the individual to decide whether or not they will tell others of their business, either way, at times, a response may be required.

Required Dieting

Having the surgery is not the final answer.  It is to be used as a tool to improve their diet which starts from before the surgery. Initially they may be asked to go on a liquid diet before their surgery for approximately 4 weeks. Everyone is different, they may be asked to have Opti fast for 2 meals and then have a light dinner for 2 weeks or have Opti fast as a meal replacement for all 3 meals for 4 weeks.  These are just a few examples and this is not easy, for anyone! After their surgery they may have troubles eating. They will need to find inventive ways to keep food down, they may be asked to start on soft foods (like baby food texture) and slowly ease into solid foods. Some people find it hard, even painful, to try and drink water. At this stage it is also important not to become a grazer, as this may cause weight gain. Another cause of weight gain is eating foods called “sliders” such as biscuits, crisps, cakes, chocolate and other high carb low nutritious foods that dissolve in the mouth.  So, there is a lot of planning and dietary requirements that still need to be met by careful planning.

Personal Obstacles

So far, we have talked about external factors, there are also direct implications that can happen after surgery. It can be exciting to lose weight quickly however it is important to be able to get enough nutrients down or there is a risk of becoming undernourished if the right foods are not consumed or not enough foods are consumed. There is a term used called dumping. This can be a very unpleasant experience including symptoms such as abdominal cramps/pain, nausea/vomiting and severe diarrhea. It is common that number 2’s can happen when they least expect it (I’m saying in their pants!) and being out of their control. Even passing gas can lead to an accident. Not all people experience it and it is possible to alleviate the symptoms by following more dietary guidelines. But it happens! There is a 20-30% chance of failure. They may have a complication, require switching to a different surgical option, gain weight after a period, not lose enough weight to name a few. A lot of the time this also can be controlled, but other times it’s just bad luck. This is why having support systems in place is important.


Bariatric surgery is a tool and not an easy option to lose weight. By working with their GP, then their surgeon, dietician and finally their personal trainer there will be more chances of success. The bariatric patient has quite the journey ahead of them. © Beyond Personal Fitness 31 August 2018