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Want Success After Bariatric Surgery? Start Making Changes Before Surgery.


Bariatric surgery can be an important tool in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight, but it's just a small part of your journey to a healthier life. Preparing for bariatric surgery is an equally important part of your weight loss journey.

"I tell patients that surgery is five percent of the journey. The other 95 percent comes from mental and behavioral changes they'll need to make," said Steven Hendrick, M.D., F.A.C.S., a board-certified surgeon specializing in weight loss surgery at Harper BMI. "That can be difficult because we are asking people to change habits that they've developed over a lifetime."  

That sort of change doesn't happen overnight — even after something as significant as bariatric surgery. "It's not like flipping a switch and all of a sudden you'll be able to make all these changes after surgery," said Rachel Roberts, a Dietitian at Harper BMI.  Dr. Hendrick and Rachel Roberts have found the patients who are most successful in achieving and maintaining their weight-loss goals are almost always the ones who started making changes before surgery. They recommend easing into the behavior changes that will become part of their new, healthier lifestyle after surgery. As you are preparing for bariatric surgery, lifestyle changes are crucial. 

To help patients preparing for bariatric surgery, Harper BMI provides a nutritional evaluation to each new patient. “During the evaluation, we go over their daily routine in detail,” Rachel Roberts said. “What do they eat? When do they eat? How often do they go out to eat? Do they eat fast food or do they cook at home? Do they have emotional eating? Binging? Late-night eating? Those are the first steps we start working on with the patients. We need to make sure we address these habits prior to surgery.”  

Each patient has slightly different unhealthy eating habits — or “demons” — they need to address before surgery. When preparing for bariatric surgery, Harper BMI often recommends patients make some or all of the following changes: 

Keep a food diary prior to surgery so the Harper BMI staff can see what changes you’ve started to implement prior to surgery.

  • Start eating small, frequent meals instead of one big meal a day.
  • Learn to prepare the small, healthy meals you’ll need to eat after surgery.
  • Stop eating fast food.
  • Learn to eat your lean protein first, followed by non-starchy vegetables. Carbohydrates like fruit and whole grains should be eaten last.
  • Get family support for your weight loss effort and rid the house of tempting foods.
  • Start trying different protein shakes prior to surgery to find the ones you like best. Protein shakes will be an important part of your healthy lifestyle after surgery.
  • Attend a bariatric surgery support group and meet people who’ve already been through surgery.
  • These are lifestyle changes that you need to integrate into your everyday lifestyle,” said Dr. Hendrick. “And the sooner you do it, the easier it will be to maintain a healthy weight after surgery.”

For more help in preparing for bariatric surgery complete our online contact form or call us at 877.362.9898.

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About your new self at Detroit Center in Michigan

Detroit Medical Center is the premier provider of weight loss surgery in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. DMC operates offices in the Madison Heights and Southfield areas of Detroit, Michigan, and serves other areas including Ypsilanti, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Livonia, Monroe, Lansing, Dearborn, Novi and Troy. Your New Self also serves Canadian bariatric patients as a preferred provider for the Ontario Ministry of Health.

Your New Self at Detroit Medical Center boasts four expert bariatric surgeons who specialize in LAP-BAND®, REALIZE® Band, Sleeve Gastrectomy, and Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass bariatric surgeries.

Patients interested in weight loss surgery should sign up for a free informational seminar to learn more about their surgical options and get started today.