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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Emotions After weight Loss Surgery

Many people find that the first few months after surgery can be very emotional for them.  Many books and websites fail to mention this and so, after explaining it to many people, I decided to do a post on it.   I find that when people understand what is going on it is less overwhelming to them.  There are a few reasons for some people being highly emotional after surgery and here are just a few:

First off, for most of us, the journey to surgery has been a very long road.  A very emotional road no less.  It's like we spend months and months working towards this goal of surgery with the preop diet, the lifestyle changes, Optifast and the like.  It's a constantly build up and sometimes flood of emotions. It hits us to the core in so many respects.  Once we have surgery, often there's the sense of "What now?".  It is not that we expect to really wake up thin but sometimes our brain works this way that we are subsconsiciously expect this big post op change and really for most of us, the days preceeding surgery do not have a lot of change with our weight, our size and our body image.  It takes a while before we start to look different, before we start to feel different and before the payoffs of surgery start happening.  So we often wonder or question "is that all there is?" and "what now?".  Pretty common and typical response.  Many of us feel no different and wonder if truly we've been operated on.

Others, can be overwhelmed by the change with their relationship with food.  Food is no longer a quick solution to an emotional problem.  For most of us, it is no longer pleasurable and quite frankly, for many of us the pleasure of food is a huge key aspect with our relationship to it.   Eating is not pleasurable for may of us.  It's labourous at best with the amount of chewing, the restrictions, the sometimes vomiting, etc.  So this is a very different feeling for us.  There's no more pleasure in eating and that's a big issue for many of us until we start to reframe our brain that it is a good thing because we now have power over food.  Many, many new post ops, miss food, miss the sensations, miss the taste and go into a mourning period.  The trick at this time is to remember that this is a HUGE step in redefining your relationship with food for the better.  You are no longer living to eat, you are now eating to live.  If you are not hungry, embrace it and eat to fuel your body nutritionally and to reduce the "crap" in your diet.  Eat clean, get faster results and get off the weight quicker. It's a good thing once you learn to retrain your brain on this!

Another issue with food can be the fact that it is around us.  It is hard to avoid and hard to resist.  People may find social situations tricky for a while.  I tell people it is not uncommon to "take a break" from social situations that involve food....and if that's what you have to do, to stay on program, then really you need to do it for you!  Going to birthdays may be a tricky thing.  It may put you in a position that you are resentful of others, that you are tempted to cheat etc.  It's okay to give yourself a break.  For others, it's not a problem.  I went to a barbecue 2 weeks post op, and sucked my shakes down happily thinking the whole time how powerful it was to resist. It's whatever works for you!

Here's the thing as well - as you are losing, your hormones are also all over the place.  Some hormones are stored in fat. As you reduce the size of your fat cells, these hormones can be released in amounts higher than you're used to. This can cause mood swings for some people and can be really odd and difficult.   Some people find that they are just more over emotional and cry at the drop of the hat while others find that they are a bit more snippy to people around them.  Others are unaffected.  Depending on your age and how much it's disrupting your life, you might want to see your doctor if it becomes unbearable.  

One more key item to mention is for those of you who may be on medications for conditions such as depression.  With your newfound malabsorption with RNY, your meds may not be absorbed properly.  This is very, very common.  Make sure that they are not time-released meds too.  It's a good idea to talk to your doctor or psychiatrists as you may need an alternate form of meds or an increase in dosage since you may not be absorbing your medication completely anymore.  Whatever you do, do not take yourself off depression meds after surgery thinking that your depression will be cured with "losing weight".  That can be a very dangerous assumption.  The rate of suicide is higher for those that have had gastric surgery and this is one possible reason that has been speculated upon.  Make sure you have a friend to keep you in check with your moods.  

Typically, people who do become emotional as a new post op, find that a few months in, things start to calm down as life resumes more normally, as the new diet changes and routines are in place and when they see the pounds start to drop.  If you are having trouble with your emotions, contact your doctor.  If you are just noticing the changes, be patient and know that it WILL get better! Seek professional help when you need it.  This is a big challenge for many and give yourself any supports that you need. Good luck!


  1. Great Post. My biggest concern now that I am 6 months out is that I am now back to being able to eat pretty normally and there is nothing that causes a problem. What I need is renew commitment to my plan.

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  7. Hi,
    "Emotions After Weight Loss Surgery" Great Title!! and nice post too!!
    I personally believe that weight loss surgery is the ultimate way to reduce your weight.

  8. I like your post. It is good to see you verbalize from the heart and clarity on this important subject can be easily observed.
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