Guest Blog by: Tabitha Johnson
As we finish out the first month of the new year, you may already be looking at ways to improve your life and health. Many people begin the year excited to make changes and weight loss is often at the top of the list. If you are determining whether or not weight loss surgery is right for you, take a look at some of these “hidden costs”.
As a certified health and life coach, and previous gastric sleeve patient (3 years post-op), I can definitely say I’ve “been there, done that.” These are issues I wished I had considered beforehand. Though I do not regret my decision to have surgery, being more informed would have been helpful.
Bariatric Surgery Hidden Costs Quick List:
- New Clothes
- New Shoes
- Time away from work
- Vice Trading
- Eating Out
- Romantic Relationships
- Pampering Budget
- Travel Budget
- Plastic Surgery
As you begin dropping weight, post-op, you will need to plan accordingly for a new wardrobe. Initially, I just bought a few key items, such as a few pairs of jeans, a few pairs of capris, etc. I didn’t want to go “all out” because I knew I was still continuing to lose weight. It finally got to the point where I had no choice but to begin formulating a new wardrobe. Over the course of the first year, I hadn’t planned for “incidentals” such as lingerie, and even shoes. I went down a shoe size after the surgery. When it came time for boots and sweaters season, my cute wide calf boots no longer looked stylin’. My workout clothes were definitely too big, and for the ladies, you need a bra budget. Unfortunately, the “girls” were long gone post-op.
After the first year, my weight began to level out and I began to completely redefine my wardrobe. (Tip: If your weight loss surgery center offers a support group, the group members may often swap out sizes as they continue to lose weight. This is an affordable option rather than purchasing all new clothes, especially in the beginning.)
As I mentioned, my feet did seem to shrink. Many of my dress shoes were too big and I ended up making several donations to Goodwill, etc. Depending on the types of shoes you wear, having a shoe budget is a must.
Post-op, we will be taking various vitamins lifelong. I currently take a multivitamin, iron, calcium citrate, B12, Omega-3. Typically these vitamins cost me about $130 total each time I purchase.
Time Away from Work
Post-op, I only took about a week off of work. If you have the ability to use sick leave or vacation time to recover, that is ideal. Otherwise, you may need to plan ahead in order to take unpaid time off. I missed some work here and there prior to surgery for the various appointments, such as lab work, an endoscopy, stress test, etc.
One casualty was that my wedding band no longer fit. In fact, it would fall off when I would attempt to wear it. Initially a ring spacer may work, but eventually, you may need to take your ring to a jeweler for a professional re-sizing.
Many people who I have spoken with who have also had a form of weight loss surgery, admit to having a new “vice” instead of food. For me, it was pajamas. I have bought a number of cozy pairs of pajamas after the surgery. I believe I was searching for comfort and each time I went shopping, I was compelled to buy a new pair. Lately, this has slowed down, but for the first year, I was definitely seeking a replacement “vice.”
Your family members may not know how to handle the new you. I have small children and they saw me drop close to 100 pounds in a year. It was a big change for them. I decided to continue to change my look and chopped off all of my hair. It was a shock to some and welcomed by some. Be prepared for friends and family to possibly be standoffish or not supportive at first. They are trying to make sense of who you are now.
The first time I went to a restaurant post-op, I was highly disappointed. I met some friends for breakfast and was annoyed that I was done eating within a few minutes. I realized I had eaten too fast and was physically uncomfortable. I was still learning how to slow down my eating. It took several months for me to really enjoy social gatherings around food. I would often ask for part of my meal to go or order an appetizer or from the kid’s menu. Seeing all of the extra food on my plate played tricks on my mind. I ended up thinking that I should be able to eat all of it, but was sadly mistaken if I even tried.
Perception (haters from skinny people, and those who are overweight)
Ah, the haters. You will have many. I find myself doing more people watching now when I shop. Often times women who are overweight will sort of sneer at me. I want to tell them, “honey, I’m just like you, in fact, I’ve been you most of my life.” I get more attention from salespeople, men, and women. It seems that when you are skinny or thin, some people are more attentive.
This one is a biggie. I belong to various post-op online support groups. I often read about couples who end their relationship after receiving bariatric surgery. This is tricky. Often there were issues prior to the surgery, but the surgery appears to bring these issues to the forefront. Sometimes the person who had the surgery has decided they have “had enough” and end the relationship. Sometimes the other party is not able to handle the “new” partner, post-op. Be prepared prior to surgery to talk with your partner about some of these potential challenges that you may face. How will you communicate post-op? Will you try couples therapy to mend the relationship?
Career Goals/Educational Goals
Your self-esteem will likely begin to soar following the surgery. Your mindset may completely change. Are you satisfied with your current career? Are you thinking of taking classes online to pursue another endeavor? It’s not uncommon that you will begin to feel more confident and ready to make some life changes and begin to pursue those goals that you had long pushed aside.
You’re no longer hiding underneath those big sweaters and baggy pants. You have decided to take pride in your appearance. You may be headed to the salon or spa regularly for a new cut or color. Maybe you never wore makeup before, and you have decided to try a new look. Maybe you feel confident enough now to get a mani/pedi. You’ve learned the importance of self-care and sometimes it feels good to splurge on yourself.
You’ve decided to renew your passport. You are ready to see the world and have the energy and drive to travel. (Maybe no more seat belt extenders needed!) You are excited to do all of those “sporty” events at the resort, like kayaking and snorkeling. Maybe you’ve hidden away from old friends and family members and you are ready for the next family reunion.
Maybe you are dealing with some old traumas from the past. You aren’t quite sure why these issues are resurfacing now. Your depression may have subsided, but you still feel that you could use some professional help when dealing with your mental health.
Personal Training Budget/Gym Membership
You swore you would never enter another gym. But you realize that you are losing weight quickly and you want to tighten up your body. Signing up with a personal trainer at the gym may be the solution for you to get moving again. Plus, now you get to wear those cute gym clothes that you couldn’t fit in before.
You are currently not experiencing any mental health issues, but you believe you could use a little “push” or motivation. Find a coach, especially one who understands bariatric surgery, and the various “mind games” that our minds play on us post-op. You want to stop seeing yourself as someone who is obese. You are no longer that person.
This one may be a bit controversial to some. Maybe you have a tremendous amount of sagging skin post-op and your surgeon believes you may be an ideal candidate for skin removal. This is not something to take lightly and must be discussed with your medical team. Maybe you are questioning the idea of having a tummy tuck or a breast lift. Please consider this with a trusted medical professional.
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Also consider reading of the related blog - Change in Taste After Surgery