Weight Loss

9 Things No One Tells You About Weight Loss Surgery

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When I was 12, my mother took me to my first-ever Weight Watchers meeting. I don’t know how much I weighed back then, but I remember seeing a big “20” on the tag of my denim shorts. At the time, I think I assumed the weight would drop off simply due to regular attendance, but I’ve learned since that’s not exactly how it works. For decades, every pound I lost on every diet I tried came back threefold—the last time I went to Weight Watchers, I was 30 years old and 380 pounds, a “32” stamped onto my pants.

Almost 900,000 people have had some type of weight-loss surgery since 2011, and after seeing the success some of my friends and family have had with bariatric surgery, I decided to go for it too. As of right now, I’m exactly four months out from surgery and down 87 pounds (and my pants say “20” again!). This journey has been a wild one so far, and it’s just beginning. While there have been some great moments, I’ve also experienced some strange surprises along the way. Here’s what I’ve learned post-op.

1. Your tastes and cravings totally change.

Pre-op, I lived on two main food groups: pizza and Chipotle.

Post-op, guess what I can’t even stand the smell of? Pizza and Chipotle.

I know; it’s bizarre. No one’s really sure how or why it happens, but many people who have weight-loss surgery have extreme changes in which foods they like and crave.  Right after surgery, you have to follow a very strict diet. Each surgeon has their own diet guidelines, but mine required one week of only clear liquids, two weeks of “full liquids,” which included pudding and Jell-o, two weeks of pureed foods, and then finally onto solids. For the first month after surgery, while I was still deep in the pureed food phase, all I wanted was a big bowl of beef-flavored ramen noodles… and I have never liked beef-flavored ramen noodles.

2. Your posture might get worse…

This is something I had never heard of, even after months and months of reading weight-loss surgery message boards. I used to pride myself on having really great posture, and now? Woof. My shoulders stay rounded no matter how much I try to straighten up, and sitting at a computer for long stretches of time makes them burn like you wouldn’t believe. After the first 50 pounds, my back hurt so much that I ended up at the chiropractor four times per week for a month trying to get straightened out again. After asking some of these groups I’m in if anyone else had this issue, I was surprised and relieved to find out that, yeah, it’s pretty common.

3. …and your butt isn’t going to be happy.

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Yup, almost everyone says they feel like they lose all of the padding around their tailbone first. Sitting for a long time, especially on hard surfaces, becomes suddenly, excessively uncomfortable.

4. You’re going to go through so much clothing.

On my surgery day, I fit comfortably into a size 30/32 pants and a 5X top. Within three months, I was wearing size 22 jeans, and an XL top was just a little snug. To make matters more… interesting, I started working a job that required business casual clothing, after years of being able to show up for work in leggings, t-shirts, and hoodies.

I’ve just embraced the fact that for a period of time, I’m going to look like I don’t know how to dress myself because everything is always so baggy on me. The pants I bought for my job interview, which fit perfectly, had me looking like Baggin’ Saggin’ Barry just two weeks later. So if you’re ever planning on weight-loss surgery, save some money for a new wardrobe every couple of weeks. Even Goodwill shopping sprees add up after a while.

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13 Comments

  1. So true lovely I’m 5 years out from my surgery lost 125lbs. total went from a size 24 to a 10 and holding at size 12-14 . Please feel free to email me if your experiencing it I’ve have also trust me – still the smartest move I ever made relating to my health. Sending you a huge Baltimore Hon Hug. Kitty.purpleLady@gmail.com

  2. The posture and back pain are likely due to muscular weakness. When we speak of weight loss, we speak of body fat loss. We are trying to deplete our stores of body fat by restricting our calories, whether this is done through weight loss surgery or through diet and exercise. Weight loss is a state of low blood sugar. When we go into low blood sugar, we force the body to make up the blood sugar to keep us alive. Blood sugar is made through extracting lipids out of current fat cells and converting them to sugar to keep us alive.
    Unfortunately, our bodies will also cannibalize our muscle stores. When this happens, muscles become weak and compromised. Joints can begin to hurt as we rely on a strong muscular system to support our posture and joints and to keep us pain free. A painful back is a sign that the muscles that support it need to be strengthened. Any weight loss program must be accompanied by a cardiovascular and strength training fitness program to keep the body strong, vibrant and healthy. Liz Dumont, http://www.b4fitlife.com

  3. Very well written. I’m only 4 weeks out from an RNY. But you nailed each thing on the head. I’ve experienced them all. The getting cold thing has been a real surprise for me. Good luck on your journey.

  4. I didn’t have support nor did I encouragement… didI care? Nope. I am 135lbs down went from size 22 to 8…. proud is a understatement! I’m ecstatic. I have experienced all the journey even envy from those who thought it couldn’t be done. Skin removal is my next step.

  5. I’m only 5 days out and experiencing not sure of how and when to do my liquids and my meds. Still feeling nauseated and sleeping alot.but I wouldn’t change it for nothing so excited to see how the rest of the journey goes.

  6. I’m almost 6 years out, 235 lbs gone! I had the RNY SURGERY. It was the absolute best thing I’ve ever done and id do it all over again. I do experience lots of lower back pain. I now have DDD and arthritis in my back. I was 391lbs when I began my journey. I haven’t felt healthier than I have since I was a kid..

  7. Thanks for telling it like it is! I am waiting for my surgery and will be 60 years old when I hopefully get it! Thanks for showing both sides of this life changing healthy choice for life!

  8. I am waiting for my surgery date to come through so this was an interesting read. A couple of them I had heard about before, some were a bit surprising. The cold thing I have experienced before, after going on a very low carb diet where I lost nearly half my total weight (320 pounds down to 190). It shocked me how the wind just seemed to blow right through me!

  9. The other thing I’ve found that no one really talks about is that it’s an amazingly hormonal surgery. It’s playing games with my head. Some days I’m ok albeit tired other days I’m so depressed about everything I know it will be worth it in the long run but 6 weeks post op I’m still struggling with my emotions

  10. I am 14 years out from my surgery (06/23/03). I definitely experienced every one of these things you’ve mentioned in this article. I would like to add one more…. Nobody mentioned the 10-year mark to me. At 10 years I started gaining the weight back. It started slowly but then started packing on more and more quickly. After speaking to several others in my group (I had surgery with 4 other people in a support group), they all started gaining the weight back with a vengance. The surgery is merely a tool to help you get that jump start you need to get the weight off. However, if you aren’t careful you will fall directly back into your old habits – you know, the one with the large pizza and wing chaser?! That’s where I am now. I’ve been on a strict eating and exercise plan now for 3 months and am finally seeing the numbers on the scale move down. It’s extremely hard.

    To comment on Kate’s comment – you are right, this is a very emotional surgery and way to lose weight. I felt as if I needed to mourn food and go through the greiving process. I am 14 years out and still have boughts of depression related to food. I definitely suggest seeing a counselor on a regular basis – one who specializes in bariatric surgery patients.

  11. One thing that I found really interesting about this journey is that we don’t see our true selves when we look in the mirror. It’s a brain thing! I had a friend who had the surgery a year before me tell me this. I didn’t pay much attention. She said look at pictures of yourself to see your true image. It’s really true!!! We went on vacation when I was down like 85 lbs and my mom took a bunch of pics. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at when I saw her Facebook posts! Was totally shocked!!! So do this periodically And be proud of your accomplishments and this life-saving decision! I’m about 12 yrs post op and so happy I did this. My life has changed!!

  12. I had the sleeve surgery June 21, 2017. I was 278 at surgery and I’m 235. Yes I’m losing the weight, but I feel sick all the time. I have a little regret about having the sleeve done. I am taking my vitamins like I suppose too. Yes I do feel cold all the time. I’m praying this all get better soon.

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