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Weight Loss Surgery: Long-Term Results

Bariatric surgery can help you get past those cravings, get healthier, and be more active.

Weight Loss Surgery: Tips for Long-Term Success continued...

Tune in to satiety. "You have to be really conscious of how your body feels when you're full," says Madan. "Learn when you're full and when you're not full."

Get a hobby. Take the focus off food. "For a lot of my patients, their hobby is eating," he suggests. "They need a hobby that keeps them active. Exercise can become a hobby, painting, guitar lessons, art class, scuba diving. Get pleasure from something other than food."

Make exercise a habit. If you can walk a little bit, that's great. Wear a pedometer to track your steps, so you can challenge yourself. Start by walking five minutes a day, then build on that. Park a little further out in the parking lot. Take a flight of stairs if you can. "It's aboutgetting into the right mindset ... establishing new habits that will stay habits," Fernstrom says.

Get a good support system. Join a weight loss surgery support group. "While friends and family are going be supportive, they haven't gone through the surgery,” Madan says. “It's easier to talk about issues with someone who has walked a mile in your footsteps. People who join support groups lose more weight. The group support reinforces lifestyle changes."

See a psychologist. When people are under stress, eating can happen. Seeing a psychologist can be very helpful in breaking that chain, says Madan. "It's important to learn stress-relieving activities. If after surgery you're engaging in stress-triggered eating, you need to see someone. There's no embarrassment in seeing a psychologist."

Discussions with a nutritionist can also reveal barriers to weight loss -- untreated depression, hostile relationships, stress at work, unhappiness in career, self-esteem issues. "All of those have nothing to do with eating -- but they have everything to do with the drive to eat," says Fernstrom.

Health Problems After Weight Loss Surgery

Whether you have gastric bypass or gastric banding surgery, specific complications are a risk. It's important that you watch for problems -- and see your surgeon right away.

Gastric Bypass Surgery Problems

Nutrition deficiencies. If you have gastric bypass surgery, monitoring your nutrition intake -- protein, fluids, vitamins, and minerals -- is a critical component in long-term success.

The surgical alterations create a state of malabsorption, which contributes to weight loss. Essentially, it means that the body eliminates calories, fat, vitamins, and minerals in food you eat. To keep the body healthy, those nutrients must be replaced -- with vitamin B12, calcium, and iron supplements as well as a multivitamin.

"Vitamins and minerals are medications," Fernstrom explains. "If you don't take them, you will have significant deficits -- cognitive deficits, anemia, or osteoporosis. There are consequences with not following the lifestyle."

With gastric banding surgery, there is less risk of serious nutrition deficiencies -- as malabsorption is not involved in that surgery. However, there still is the need to eat a healthy, balanced diet. A daily multivitamin is also required.

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