When it comes to weight loss surgeries, the surgical procedure is often the least frightening aspect for patients.  The unknown of what will happen during recovery and the months following the operation can be nerve-wracking.  Often, what makes the difference between a successful recovery and a stressful one is the support team patients have around them.  If you're about to undergo bariatric surgery (with the help of duodenal switch surgeons), it's important to start thinking about your relationships now.  Being open and honest with yourself and your closest friends and family will help ensure that you've got the support you need to change your habits and navigate your weight loss journey. 

Your Spouse

Your closest relationship needs to be prepped for your upcoming recovery process.  Throughout your recovery and weight loss period, you and your spouse will both need to help one another emotionally

  • Before Surgery: Bring your spouse with you to appointments with your doctors.  Allow him or her the chance to ask questions about the recovery without fear of judgment.  Talk openly and honestly about your fears and expectations, as well as your spouse's.  
  • During Recovery: Remember that your spouse is taking on extra responsibilities while you're going through your downtime.  Check in with your spouse to ensure he or she isn't overwhelmed emotionally. 
  • After Recovery: Many spouses of bariatric patients feel they're losing the person they married.  They fear the new physical appearance will replace the person they've been living with for so long.  Speaking with a couple's counselor and your team of surgeons can create an honest dialogue in a safe place.

Friends and Family

The people that you spend time with in the near future will need to understand that your daily habits will need to change after your surgery.  As you're trying to break your food addiction, you'll need to limit your food intake and increase your activity level.  

As you approach your surgery take inventory of the people in your life who'll be distracting from these goals: 

  • Is anyone making derogatory comments about your decision to undergo surgery? 
  • Are there family members who are offering to help in the days to weeks following the procedure? 
  • Who in your life do you go to restaurants or bars with? 

Talk with those closest to you about what you'll need after the surgery, both in terms of emotional support and dietary changes.  If they're showing signs of being unwilling to help, you'll likely need to limit your time with them as you're changing your habits.  

A New Support System

Even with your friends and family by your side, it'll be difficult to express the whirlwind of emotions you'll be feeling after your surgery.  Having people to talk to who've been through a similar surgery and recovery can be comforting.  

Ask your team of doctors about a local support group or preferred counselor for patients like yourself.  This will help you talk about the deeply personal aspects, such as a changing sex life or the guilt of losing weight faster than a spouse, with those who can listen with truly understanding ears.  

If your area doesn't have such a group, consider utilizing an online forum for bariatric surgery patients.  This also gives an increased level of anonymity, while opening you up to a much larger population of individuals similar to yourself.

The physical prospects of any type of bariatric surgery are exhilarating.  However, you'll need a strong and stable support system to help get you through.  Many patients are surprised to find that the recovery can be emotionally taxing, so prepare yourself now for the coming months.  Make sure you and your spouse are open and honest, you're aware of which friends and family will be the most helpful, and you have a group of similar patients to talk with.