Follow-Up Care: What about it?

Weight loss surgery is a very good tool to help patients lose a significant amount of excess weight, if not, all of their excess weight depending on their diet and exercise compliance. Ultimately, the interest of weight loss lies within long-term weight loss. In other words, you want to lose the weight and keep it off, right? With the right program and long-term follow up care, weight loss is certainly achievable and can be maintained for the long-term. Unfortunately, some patients fall victim to weight regain once they stop their program’s post -surgery follow-up routine. In fact, post- surgery follow-up routines have been created to ensure that weight loss goals are being met and maintained for long-term.

Remember, obesity is a disease, and just like any other disease, it requires long-term follow-up to keep the disease at bay. For instance, if you have high blood pressure and you are taking a medication for it, you would continue to follow with your primary care or cardiologist to make sure that your blood pressure medication is working for you. Think of weight loss surgery in the same way; you were given a tool to help you lose weight and following up with your bariatric program is essential to keeping the weight off long-term. It sounds easy, but some patients may not follow-up with their programs because they are embarrassed of weight regain, they have moved out of the area, financial constraints, or they are too busy and just don’t have time. Avoid falling victim to these reasons and check out the helpful tips below…

    Relocation:
    After surgery, some patients have to relocate a great distance from their original surgeon because of family or their job. If this happens to you, find a program in your new area that is willing to accept patients from another program. If you are having trouble finding a program, you can always call your original surgeon’s office and they may be able to help recommend or find a surgeon in your geographical area.

    Time constraints:
    Some patients feel that they just don’t have time in their busy schedules. This may be true because we are all living busy fast-paced lives, but consider the thought of regaining the weight. If you regain the weight, you will be visiting other doctor’s office more frequently because of the weight gain, especially if a co-morbid condition returns such as sleep apnea or high blood pressure.

    Money:
    Some patients will say that they don’t have enough money to follow up regularly because their co-pays are too high. They might be thinking…Why should I spend the money if I am doing fine? In fact, most patients find they are saving money and not forking out extra co-pays for medications and doctor’s visits because of the diseases originally associated with their obesity.

    Normal follow-up routine should be once a month until you reach your goal weight, then, every three months unless otherwise indicated by your provider. Some patients have done so well for so long that they follow-up on a yearly basis as long as they are doing well and there is no evidence of weight regain. Keep in mind, if you are gaining weight your provider may want to see you more frequently until things are under control.

    Insurance:
    Some patients may lose their insurance or change insurance after their weight loss surgery. If your employer is offering a different insurance plan, call your surgeon’s office to ensure they accept your new insurance plan. Also, if you lost your insurance for any reason call your surgeon’s office immediately. Most offices have a reasonable self pay plan or charity option for their patients that are experiencing a difficult time.

    Embarrassment:
    Embarrassment of gaining weight and feeling like a failure are real feelings that most patients encounter at some point throughout their weight loss journey. Some patients will even say “it’s my fault that I am gaining weight”; “I know what I have to do”; “I already know what they are going to say”. Your feelings and thoughts can get in the way of your success if you are not careful. It is essential to understand that you have a team of support waiting to help you despite how you are thinking or feeling. Get into your surgeon’s office as soon as possible if you are having difficulty losing weight or if you are gaining weight. Being held accountable can get you back on track real fast even if you know what they are going to say! The right program and the right team will always be there for you regardless of what you think and how you feel. They really want to see you do well…so just get back in the door!!

    Before and after photos:
    Try hanging a picture of what you looked like before surgery and after surgery up on your refrigerator. The before picture may just stop you from opening that fridge door and get you out for a walk! This might be the boost you need to recognize how far you have come and remind you of all the reasons why picking up your favorite food or splurging and picking is so… NOT worth it!!

    Support groups:
    Yes, some patients roll their eyes at the thought of support groups while other patients love them. Support groups are about helping, learning, education, and reminding you of what is important. Through support groups you can learn about helpful tips that someone else may have found useful. You can be supportive and helpful to help answer questions for a patient getting ready to have surgery. Maybe it will remind you of what it was like to go through such a difficult time in your life. Remember, whether from home or a formal group, support is key in maintaining long-term weight loss.

Establish a good working relationship with your bariatric program and understand they are there for you to help you achieve your weight loss goals and maintain it long-term. Understand the importance of follow-up care and making the time for it should be taken into consideration before and after your surgery. Last but not least, what’s most important about your follow-up care?

Finding a team that is right for you!

Mary Anne

Mary Anne

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