Dealing with Sadness After Gastric Sleeve Surgery

You were beyond excited to have vertical sleeve gastrectomy and the procedure went great. So what’s with the feelings of sadness and…dare we say…regret? With so many fellow sleevers shouting their absolute glee about their weight loss and how fabulous their lives are, you might wonder if you’re the only one who’s struggled with mixed feelings right after VSG. You’re not. Maybe some of these issues sound familiar.

“I feel different than everyone else.”
Watching friends, family, and coworkers effortlessly eat platefuls of food while your new stomach only allows a few bites makes some VSG patients feel left out. Everyone wants to feel “normal,” but consider what you’re actually missing out on. Eating and drinking thousands of excess calories? Becoming more unhealthy with every meal? It’s human nature to look at our past with rose-colored glasses, but don’t forget why you’re doing this. “Yes, things change, but that was the whole point,” says Sabrina. “If I (had) continued on the same path, I’d (have) been 400 pounds and died at 42 like my Mom with diabetes.” So many people are on a destructive path when it comes to their health. In this case, being different is a good thing. And you won’t always be full after just a few bites, either. “Your ability to eat larger portions will come back, and you will long for the days when you could eat less!” April adds.

“I’m not ‘me’ anymore.”
In the first weeks—or even months—after vertical sleeve gastrectomy, your body undergoes a staggering amount of changes. While you’re adjusting mentally, you’re probably also dealing with fatigue, low energy, and other annoying physical affects. That one-two punch can be discouraging. “I felt the same way for a few months after surgery,” Michelle admits. “Take your vitamins, focus on getting your protein and water in. I promise, it gets better. As the weight drops and your body adjusts to the new normal, you will have so much energy.” Zina, too, knows that the post-op struggle can be real. “I had a horrible first month, but after about six weeks your energy starts coming back and you heal and feel better.”

“I could have tried harder.”
As your weight begins to plummet, first with your pre-surgery diet and then (usually) fairly rapidly in the period right after VSG, you might start to believe that you didn’t really need the procedure. That, had you tried just a little harder, just one more time, you could have lost weight without gastric sleeve in Mexico. And while it’s not an uncommon thought, the truth is that you probably couldn’t have. Science has proven that people who struggle with obesity aren’t lazy or too unmotivated to lose excess pounds; their bodies actively fight against it. It doesn’t help that some “friends” may give you a hard time about your decision. “Everybody and their brother have opinions or histories of weight loss surgery, and they may not completely buy into the idea that you will be successful,” Robin says, adding that people who are struggling with their own weight may try to sabotage your progress. Rather than focus on what you could have done differently (likely nothing!) or negative comments, put your energy into maximizing what your tool can help you accomplish.

“Nothing seems fun anymore.”
A mourning period is totally normal. Some patients even refer to it as “breaking up with food,” and we all know that break-ups are hard. But rest assured that, once healed, the vast majority of patients only regret waiting so long to schedule their VSG. Traci, who still remembers her post-op adjustment period six and a half years ago, says, “Life is totally normal (now)…. except I’m healthy! That wasn’t normal seven years ago! Your brain and stomach eventually align and you don’t feel deprived physically or emotionally. Hang in there…it is SO worth it!” One caveat here is that if your feelings verge on depression or they aren’t going away after your body has healed, then it’s time to seek out a therapist who specializes in addiction.

The bottom line is that, for every person who wakes up from VSG feeling great and continues to feel nothing but great, there’s a person wrestling with an adjustment period. Both are normal. Remember that the Endobariatric staff and your sleeve brothers and sisters are always here for you!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.