Jacqui Lewis - April 2021

10 Tips on What You'll Need as You Prepare for Bariatric Surgery

Bags and clothes on a bed

Familiarise yourself with the 5 P’s “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance”

Undergoing Weight Loss Surgery is one huge step.

It can feel like the beginning of a whole new chapter, and often comes with the promise of results you have been striving for, for a very long time. There might be a mix of excitement, positivity, and of course - NERVES, and steep learning curves.

Life is just about to change dramatically - and being prepared is the absolute key to your long term success.

Let's look at 10 things you’ll need from a practical standpoint,
and from the perspective of your mindset, support network and your knowledge.

1. Getting Ready

Once you have a date for your surgery, there is no time like the present to change your eating habits - and in turn start to improve your health. 

Cull your cupboards and fridge of the foods that are unsupportive of your new goal, and think about what you will put in their place.

2. Pre-op Diet

Your dietitian will set the guidelines for the pre-op phase of your diet.

This is geared for making the surgery safer, by reducing the size of your liver, so it needs to be taken seriously.

Stock up on good quality meal replacements, and fresh foods to fulfil the plan set out by your team.

3. Safety Recommendations

Your surgeon will make suggestions as to extra steps you will need to take to ensure you are safe to be operated on.

Smoking is risky in its own right - but combine it with surgery and it will slow down your recovery, impair tissue repair and healing, and increase the risk of blood clots. Your surgeon can refuse to operate if you are known to have been smoking in the lead up to your surgery.

4. Nutritionally Fit 

Being as “nutritionally fit” before your surgery will help reduce complications - so ask your team if you have any nutrients that are in the lower ranges that you can try to correct before your surgery date. Many obese patients are low in Vitamin D, Iron, B12 and Calcium, so catching up before hand is a good idea as they all help with recovery and health overall.

5. Get Organised

Making sure you will be stress free after you get home is key.

Stock up on all the foods you will need in the Liquid and puree stages, and ensure you have enough protein on hand to meet the recommended range every day.

Clean your house, get your meds, organise your BN Multis to be delivered well before you go to hospital as these all need to be started on day 1.

Check out the Free recipe E-books in the Bariatric Recipes section on the website for some great food ideas for the early stages after surgery, and stock up.

6. Pack your hospital bag

Prepare for one extra night just in case. Your surgeon will likely have a guide as to what you need to pack.

7. Mindset

Explore your mindset, and seek support from a counsellor or psychologist who specialises in obesity/weight loss, on forming new habits, exploring emotional links to food, and overall gaining new tools to cope with change.

8. Support

Make sure you have a support team of friends and family who know what the surgery entails, and what you might need physically and emotionally in the next little while.

9. Plan some down time

Bariatric surgery from the outside doesn't look like much, but it is major, metabolic surgery. You will need to rest and recover from the surgery, combined with limited food intake, so you will be tired. Plan some time off work, or seek some extra hands at home if you have a busy home life.

10. Practice putting yourself first

You have taken this brave and bold step to create a healthier and happier life. It's your time to make sure you are focussing on everything you need to do to get the best and safest results.

Consider reducing your commitments to others for a period of time after you get home so you can stay focussed on learning all about your new way of thinking, eating, feeling and being - it is a lot to work through.

Getting ready for your Bariatric Surgery is more than a 10 step process!
But we hope you have gained some insight as to what to expect and how to make the best attempts at long term success.

Jacqui Lewis,
BHSc Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine 

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