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          Before You Have Gastric Bypass Surgery …

          October 29, 2004

          Is gastric bypass surgery right for you? There are many factors to consider before undergoing this controversial procedure. Keep in mind the following advice from Dr. Phil:

          • Exhaust all of your non-surgical alternatives first.
            Before you think about going under the knife to lose 100 pounds, try everything that you can to drop the pounds on your own. This may mean a combined program of diet and exercise or visiting a nutritionist. Dr. Phil says, “If you’re medicating yourself with food, if you’re entertaining yourself with food, if you’re eating when you’re bored, anxious, lonely, depressed, upset … if you have a lifestyle that’s consistent with overeating, they’re going to be there after the surgery.” Try to develop alternative coping strategies.
          • Surgery is not risk-free.
            Because nurses see so many botched cases of stomach surgery, they have a phrase for it: “gastric bypass gone bad.” There are many risks associated with the procedure, such as blood clots, pneumonia, incisional pain — even death. One young guest, Tiffany, spent three days in the intensive care unit due to complications from her surgery. “It’s just not a problem-free situation as no surgery is,” Dr. Phil explains. “The truth is, there are alternatives.”
          • You have to maintain a lifestyle post-surgery.
            Understand that if you do make the decision to have gastric bypass surgery, there is an active management plan that you have to execute after the procedure. According to Madelyn Fernstrom, Director of Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center, among the things you have to keep up after surgery is “watch all of your protein, fluid intake, vitamins and minerals for life … That would be one thing to consider and make sure that you understand all of the ramifications and how difficult it is.” Know that gastric bypass isn’t just something you deal with for a few months; post-surgery maintenance lasts a lifetime.
          • Program your life for success.
            “Things often start for one reason, but they continue for another,” says Dr. Phil. For example, if you were an overweight kid and you ate when you were lonely and hurt, chances are you will continue that pattern into adulthood. “If you don’t get a new way of acting, a new way of coping, then you will continue to do it,” Dr. Phil warns. You can’t eat what isn’t there, so you have to clean your environment. You also have to get your thinking right and abolish the old, negative thoughts. It helps to have people in your corner who applaud your efforts to lose weight, so set up a circle of support. “Weight is managed, it’s not cured,” explains Dr. Phil.

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