You’ve done your research, met your surgeon, asked your questions and decided to go ahead with bariatric surgery.
Now, you’re wondering what to tell your family, friends and colleagues. How do you handle people’s questions about what you’ll be doing during your time off work? Or, in a few months, how should you respond to questions about how you’ve managed to lose so much weight.
Should you be completely open with everyone? Should you keep it private? What on earth should you say?
There’s no right answer to those questions. It’s worth learning from the experiences of other weight-loss surgery patients. Who did they tell? Why? Did they regret it? Ask others in a support group, an online forum or simply ask Google about telling people about weight-loss surgery.
Ultimately, your choice will depend on your personality, whether you prefer privacy or openness and also on who is asking. Let’s start there.
You’ll be very close to only a small group of people – your partner, family or trusted friends.
This is your tribe. You need them. You’re used to journeying through life with them by your side.
Hopefully, you would feel able to tell at least some of these people about your weight-loss surgery, just as you’d probably share other personal struggles and joys with them.
Beyond this small, trusted group is a wider group of colleagues, friends and acquaintances. These relationships are good but not as deep or trusting as your intimate circle. You know these people, like most of them, and probably spend a lot of time with them during the working week.
But you don’t necessarily have to tell them about your bariatric surgery, just as you don’t necessarily have to tell them about other deeply personal stuff.
You can tell them. But it’s your choice.
Spend a few minutes now thinking about your relationships. Who is in the most intimate group of family and very close friends? Which of these people would you like to tell? Why/why not?
Now think about your wider networks. Is there anyone here that you’d like to tell? Or would you prefer to keep your surgery private?
Telling people about your weight-loss surgery
The people you’ve chosen to tell are probably those who care about you the most.
So, remember that any questions or concerns they have about your surgery are coming from a place of love and care.
When telling people about your bariatric surgery try to:
- Anticipate their questions: You know these folk well. How are they likely to react to your news? What are they likely to be concerned about? How can you respond?
- Start with your why: Why are you doing this? Why do you feel that surgery is your best option? What do you hope to gain? This is your story so explain your reasons for choosing surgery. (If you can’t answer these questions, then you probably need to keep thinking through your options for a while longer before you decide on surgery.)
- Explain the benefits: Your family and friends probably know almost nothing about bariatric surgery. So, tell them what’s involved, what the research says about long-term success rates, how it’s likely to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and other significant conditions.
- Stay calm: It’s not always easy to talk about your weight, especially if you’re talking to someone who has never struggled with weight gain or who thinks you just need more willpower. But take a few deep breaths and try to stay calm while they process the information.
- Own your choice: Remember that this is your decision – you’re not asking for their agreement or blessing, you’re just telling them about it.
- Channel their concern into support: If they’re concerned that you’re ‘taking the easy way out’ explain that you will need to eat well and exercise regularly for this to work – then invite them to join you in a fitness class or babysit while you go for a jog.
Not telling people about your weight-loss surgery
You don’t need to tell the world about your bariatric surgery. Frankly, it’s none of their business.
You will need some time off work, though, meaning it’s likely that you will have to say something to explain your absence.
You’ll need to book annual leave or personal leave. Even your boss doesn’t have the right to probe if you’ve supplied a medical certificate saying you’ll be unfit to work between certain dates.
As for your colleagues, most people are sensitive enough not to pry further if you say you’re having a procedure done or that you’re simply taking some time off for personal reasons.
If they do probe for more details, have a response ready. Practise saying something like, ‘Thanks for your concern but it’s a bit private and I’d rather not get into the details.’ Then change the subject – asking about them usually works!
Fast forward a few months and the same people may start to notice that you’re getting slimmer and fitter. Again, think about what you’ll say so you’re not caught off guard. Try saying ‘Thanks! I’ve been more careful with my diet and I’m much more active than I used to be’.
That’s all true. It’s not the whole truth, obviously, but you’re not under oath!
How Life Weight Loss Centre Can Help
You can chat to your surgeon about whether or not to tell people about your weight-loss surgery and ask how other patients have handled that question.
As a Life Weight Loss patient, we’re happy to put you in touch with previous patients who’ve agreed to help others.
Want to know more? Please get in touch today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.