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How and When to Tell People You’ve Had Weight Loss Surgery

friends holding hands in support while discussing bariatric surgery at a coffee shop

Fair warning – Once you start losing a noticeable amount of weight, you are GONNA get questions! Friends, family, coworkers, and even people you barely know will want to know your secret. The good news is that YOU can decide what and how much you want to tell people. Read on for some tips and thought-provoking questions to help you prepare to answer those questions.

First things first – remember, this is YOUR personal information, and you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t feel comfortable sharing. Some people are open books and will be happy to tell anyone about their weight loss surgery. That’s ok. Some people may be very private about it and not want to discuss it beyond necessity. That’s ok too. Most of us will fall somewhere in between.

Bottom line – boundaries are essential. Those close to you probably NEED to know more. They need to understand how to help care for you in the early post-op days. They need to know about your dietary restrictions and exercise needs so that they can be a support to you. Open communication with those closest to you is vital!

The random lady at work you barely know and have never had a real conversation with? Maybe all she needs to know is that “limiting portions and being more active” is what you’re doing. That’s technically TRUE without sharing more than you want to.

If you are dating after weight loss surgery, that comes with its own challenges. Should you tell a potential date about your WLS? When should you tell them? The simple answers to those questions are yes and when you feel the time is right. Your weight loss surgery is an essential part of your story. Plus, knowing about your surgery helps potential dates come up with activities and food choices that will work for you. Informing a potential romantic partner about excess skin and scars can help you feel more comfortable when/if they see them. The right person for you will love all of you – including this part of your journey.

Occasionally, you will encounter uneducated or judgmental people. That’s especially tough when those people are close family or friends. I’ll never forget a conversation with a new coworker that turned to diet and exercise. I mentioned that I had lost a significant amount of weight, and his response was, “I’m glad you didn’t cheat and get one of those surgeries!” On the inside, I cringed. But, at that moment, I decided to use the opportunity to educate. I didn’t respond in anger or shame, or awkwardness. I chose to share my story in more detail than usual. I included facts and research that I had read during my journey. Because I didn’t cower in shame or fire back in defense, he LISTENED! He THANKED me for sharing that with him. And he’s turned into a good friend and one of my biggest advocates as I continue on my maintenance and fitness journey.

Lastly, don’t be surprised if people often want to draw on your experience because they are considering doing it! Try to handle questions with grace and patience. Educate people where they are perpetuating myths. Give out good information to those who are curious. And anything that you aren’t comfortable discussing… don’t!

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