Having a sleeve gastrectomy is a significant life change that may bring up both physical and emotional challenges. While this surgery will certainly help you lose weight, it also has the potential to cause emotional changes that may require support and care. Some of these emotional changes are rather unexpected and have the potential to derail the unprepared patient.
Let’s address some of these changes along with some coping strategies for dealing with the inevitable emotional consequences that take place after sleeve gastrectomy.
Common Emotional Changes After Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery
Many patients experience anxiety after sleeve gastrectomy surgery, especially in the first few months following the procedure. This may be related to anxieties over the outcome of the surgery, changes in body image, and the necessity to stick to a rigorous diet and exercise plan. Plateaus appear to be a significant source of early-stage stress.
Depression sometimes seems to take patients by surprise. (“Why do I feel depressed if I’m closer to obtaining the health that I’ve wanted?”) They may feel depressed due to a number of factors, including changes in body image, hormonal changes, and feelings of loss or grief for the weight loss journey.
Patients may experience mood swings after sleeve gastrectomy surgery, including feelings of irritability, frustration, and sadness. These mood swings may be caused by the surgery’s physical and mental stress, as well as alterations in hormone levels and the required postoperative dietary changes.
Changes in Relationships
Weight loss and changes in body image can also affect relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners. As patients acclimate to their new bodies and lives, the dynamics of their relationships may change for some. It’s essential to talk openly and honestly with loved ones and seek assistance when needed.
It’s not uncommon for patients to feel insecure after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Changes in body image, the need to maintain weight loss, and the fear of regaining weight can all contribute to feelings of insecurity. Many people have regained weight after diet and exercise attempts, so it’s only natural to feel insecure about the possibility of weight regain after sleeve gastrectomy.
After sleeve gastrectomy surgery, some patients may develop transfer addictions, such as substituting eating with other undesirable habits or activities. It’s essential to be aware of the possibility of transfer addictions and to get assistance if necessary. Be especially wary of alcohol.
Poor Body Image
Bodily changes after sleeve gastrectomy can also cause patients to see their general appearance in a negative light and make it impossible for them to see the realities of their new body. Many people already have these issues before surgery and expect them to be fixed after sleeve gastrectomy. Unfortunately, the mirror will continue to lie to you. Patients frequently still see themselves as obese even after achieving a significantly healthier weight. It’s crucial to get care from a mental health professional if you are suffering from body image issues before they develop into a full-blown mental health illness known as body dysmorphic disorder.
Tips for Managing Emotional Changes After Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery
It’s important to have a support system in place after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. This may include friends and family, support groups, and a professional therapist. Talking about your feelings and emotions can help you manage them more effectively. Other patients can also be of great assistance to you since they can identify with your journey better than most.
Taking care of yourself is crucial after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. This may involve engaging in enjoyable hobbies, obtaining sufficient rest, and practicing relaxation techniques such as prayer, meditation, and yoga. I cannot stress enough the necessity of continuously engaging in healthful activities. You know how to exercise. You know how to eat well. You know how to get enough sleep. You know not to isolate socially. You know how to invest in yourself spiritually. Now is the time to do it.
Focus on Positive Changes
While there may be challenges associated with sleeve gastrectomy surgery, it’s important to focus on the positive changes as well. These can include improved health, increased energy, and a better quality of life. Personally, I love the so-called non-scale victories (NSVs). Can you cross your legs? Can you tie your shoes? Can you walk for 30 minutes without stopping? Do you still need the seatbelt extender on planes? These NSVs can be great positive changes to focus on instead of constantly staring at the scale.
Follow a Healthy Diet & Exercise Regimen
It goes without saying that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can aid in weight reduction and enhance overall mental and physical health. You will never be at your best physically or mentally if your diet and exercise habits are subpar.
If you experience significant, disturbing, or chronic emotional changes following sleeve gastrectomy surgery, you should consider seeing a therapist for assistance. A therapist can give support and assist you in overcoming any difficulties you may be experiencing. Society in general has shamed the idea of needing and asking for help—and it’s especially stigmatized the need for mental therapy. There’s so much to gain for many people by seeking therapy. Don’t let your pride hold you back.
Keeping a journal can be a useful technique for coping with emotional changes after sleeve gastrectomy. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you process and make sense of your experiences. There’s really no difference between writing and thinking. If you want to think deeply and explore your emotions purposefully, journaling is an excellent way to do it.
Getting enough sleep is important for overall health and well-being, and it can also help with managing emotions after sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night to help reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood. Sleep is quite possibly our one and only superpower. Jealously guard your sleep and don’t self-sabotage by doing things you know will interfere with getting restful sleep at night.
Emotional Changes After Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery Are Manageable
Sleeve gastrectomy can bring significant physical and emotional changes. It’s important to be prepared for these changes and have a plan in place to manage them. By seeking support, practicing self-care, focusing on positive changes, following a healthy diet and exercise regimen, considering therapy, journaling, and getting adequate sleep, you can effectively manage emotional changes after sleeve gastrectomy surgery.
If you’re experiencing severe, disturbing, or persistent emotional changes, it’s important to seek help from a professional. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is support available to help you through this journey.