Life After Weight Loss Surgery

Though weight loss surgery has tremendous benefits, dealing with the aftereffects can also be very challenging

By Denise Mann
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Unlike past cruises, this summer as Susan Kochman, 57, and her husband, Ed, sail the Western Caribbean, she plans to spend significantly less time grazing the round-the-clock buffets and much more time touring Cozumel, Grand Cayman Island, and other ports.

The reason?

Like growing numbers of Americans (including such famous folk as weatherman Al Roker and singer Carnie Wilson), Kochman, who lives outside Philadelphia, underwent weight loss surgery on Dec. 3, 2004, and has since lost 54 pounds.

"I have so much more energy," she says. "Before I had the surgery I needed to nap every day. I almost never nap anymore." What's more, she is off all of her heart failure medications and almost completely weaned off of her blood pressure medications.

"The surgery met my expectations, and I had high expectations," she tells WebMD. In fact, she says this past New Year's Eve was the first ever that she did not shed a tear for auld lang syne. "I was so happy and so looking forward to the next year."

But weight loss surgery isn't a quick fix or a free ride. It is a major surgery that involves shrinking the stomach size by sealing off most of the stomach and creating a small, thumb-sized pouch that greatly restricts food intake. The pouch also bypasses part of the small intestine to reduce the amount of calories and nutrients absorbed from food. And the surgery is often only the beginning.