It is important to have the right expectations prior to undergoing weight loss surgery. Again, weight loss surgery is not the cure-all for morbid obesity. It is a major step in the right direction for those that have taken the time to educate themselves about all their options and have made a well informed decision. One can not just sit back and think that the operation will do all the work. It takes a commitment to follow dietary recommendations and to take the initiative to begin and keep up with a regular exercise regimen when possible. It is important to be compliant with dietary recommendations as this will not only help to keep the weight off and therefore keep you healthier, but also will help to prevent adverse symptoms such as nausea and vomiting and dumping syndrome which are associated with eating improperly after the operation. You should also expect to follow-up with your bariatric surgeon for a very long time, hopefully a lifetime. It is important for your surgeon to follow you for malnutrition and other complications that can arise and for your surgeon to have good communication with your primary care provider to coordinate your care.
The average amount of weight loss for those undergoing Roux-en-Y gastric bypass is 50 – 75% of their excess body weight over the course of about 1.5 years. The expected regain of weight over many years after that is about 10 – 15%. These are averages and some will lose more and some will lose less. It is important to realize however that the health effects of weight loss will be noticed well before the 50% weight loss mark is reached. It is not uncommon for patients on oral medications for their diabetes to come off of them during the first week after the operation. Not all patients will see their co-morbidities completely resolve, however the vast majority of them will at least see improvements. It is not common for people to reach their ideal body weight after having the surgery, however it can be done if the gains made trough the surgery are built upon with efforts on the part of the patient, such as through exercise and healthier eating.
There are also changes in appearance that are not insignificant. These changes are often viewed by the patient as positive and sometimes have a dramatic impact on outlook. Due to the significant amount of weight that is lost, there can also be a large amount of overhanging excess skin. The extent to which there is excess skin will vary from individual to individual and can range from unnoticeable to significant.