Coping with Emotions and Relationships after Weight Loss Surgery

Along with weight loss surgeon advice, a guide to dealing with emotions

Hope, optimism and confidence—after taking the exciting step toward lifelong health with weight loss surgery, these are the types of emotions most people expect to experience most of the time. However, as you embark on your weight loss journey it is common to also experience emotions of anxiety or irritability when communicating with your loved ones who may not fully understand what you are going through. Experiencing such feelings following your surgery is completely normal, so don’t be alarmed.

Being able to effectively express your feelings following weight loss surgery to your family and friends can have a remarkable impact on your individual relationships. Speak with your weight loss surgeon for more ways to effectively handle your post-surgery emotions.

Expectations for Family and Friends

Relationships with your family and friends most likely have a powerful influence on your life, both before and after weight loss surgery. The support of your family and friends will make the lifestyle changes that need to be made following your weight loss surgery come easily. When you return home after your surgery, family and friends may have questions for you. They may inquire about your actual surgical experience or want to know more about your post-surgery weight loss outcome.

Depending on how you feel, you may or may not prefer to talk about your surgery at that time—either way, don’t feel bad. Family and friends are just curious and want to know how you’re doing, but if you’d rather not talk about it right away just tell them politely you may need some time before you can answer their questions. Just let them know when or if you’re ready to talk about it.

Educate Your Friends and Family

In addition to having a bunch of questions concerning your weight loss surgery, your family and friends will want to help you lose weight in any way they can. However, your family and friends may not know your exact needs or how they should go about supporting you—in that case you will need to educate them.

It’s best to start with the basics—explain to your family and friends how your individual weight loss surgery works. Make sure they know that your surgery is not intended to cure you of your weight-associated problems overnight and that it will take some time. Once they are aware of your expectations they can begin to help and support you in your success.

Communicate and Express Your Feelings

Now that your family and friends are aware of what your weight loss surgery journey will entail, they will want to talk with you about it every step of the way. Having your family and friends available to talk to after your surgery is an excellent resource. Creating positive communication will require a special effort from everyone in order to make an atmosphere for open discussion capable of helping you during any difficult moments following bariatric surgery.

Make sure to let your family and friends know exactly what is and what isn’t helpful for you where support is concerned. Take advantage of the open discussion to explain to them how they can best help you cope when dealing with difficult emotions. This may be difficult for some if family and friends have been critical of your weight loss and weight loss efforts in the past—but don’t get discouraged. Simply explain to your critics which support behaviors are helpful and which ones are not and make suggestions as to how they can help you along your journey. More often than not, people are willing to help and listen to your concerns when you explain your needs tactfully. When others do finally make a positive change in supporting you, remember to thank them.

There are many resources such as books and articles that can offer you more ways to help you succeed when it comes to communication. For more specific questions concerning communication with family and friends after surgery don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Bass.