Bariatric surgery is a life-altering medical procedure that offers hope to those struggling with obesity, but the emotional and psychological aspects of this process are often underestimated. Beyond the physical changes, individuals who undergo bariatric surgery experience a significant impact on their mental health, body image, and self-esteem. This article explores the relationship between bariatric surgery and mental well-being.
The Preoperative Phase
Before the surgery, you may experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Anxiety about the procedure’s outcome and potential risks can be overwhelming. Expectations are often high, and you may fantasize about your post-surgery life. At this point, discuss these anxieties, concerns, and hopes with your surgeon and maintain realistic expectations. Bariatric surgeons can help set realistic expectations for what you can expect and offer emotional support to ease anxiety.
The Postoperative Phase
In the immediate aftermath of bariatric surgery, you may have mixed emotions. You may experience relief, knowing that the procedure is now done, but this can be accompanied by physical discomfort, the challenges of dietary restrictions, and the daunting prospect of adapting to a new way of life. Additionally, some individuals may grapple with unexpected feelings of regret or sadness as they confront the dramatic shift in their eating habits.
Body Image and Self-Esteem
Over time, changes in body image and self-esteem are inevitable. While the physical changes can be exciting, they can also be emotionally challenging. You may struggle to adjust to your new appearance, especially if you’ve carried excess weight for most of your life. It’s essential to recognize that bariatric surgery is not a remedy for body image issues or low self-esteem. Mental health support should be an integral part of your recovery process.
Mindful Eating & Self-Compassion
Learning to eat mindfully is a crucial skill for post-bariatric surgery patients. It involves being fully present during meals, savoring each bite, and listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Mindful eating can help prevent emotional eating and promote a healthier relationship with food. Additionally, practicing self-compassion is essential. You must remember that setbacks are normal, and the journey to improved health is not linear. Be kind and patient with yourself.
Exercise & Stress Management
Physical activity contributes to weight loss and has a profound impact on mental health. Regular exercise releases endorphins, improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety. Finding an enjoyable physical activity can be an important part of your journey to better mental well-being. Stress management techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing can help combat stress, which can otherwise lead to emotional eating and hinder progress.
Therapeutic interventions can be invaluable for individuals recovering from bariatric surgery. Psychologists and counselors can help you navigate the challenges of weight loss. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and support groups tailored for bariatric patients can also help you address body image concerns, self-esteem issues, and emotional eating habits.
The emotional journey of bariatric surgery is complex and should not be underestimated. You need to recognize and address the mental health aspects of this process. Advanced Surgical Solutions is led by highly skilled, empathetic bariatric surgeons like Dr. Prokurat, who guide you through the entire weight loss process, ensuring safe, sustainable results while centering your emotional and mental well-being. If you’re prepared to initiate your weight loss process or simply want to learn more, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Prokurat.