How often should you weigh yourself after bariatric surgery
Mental Health
How Often Should You Weigh Yourself After Bariatric Surgery?

Maintaining good mental health is crucial for individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, particularly as they navigate the months following their operation. While tracking weight can be essential for managing physical health, when you excessively weigh yourself after bariatric surgery, it can have a detrimental impact on your mental well-being.

Several studies have suggested that weighing yourself too much may be detrimental to your mental and physical health. In this blog, we will explore the science behind how often you should weigh yourself after bariatric surgery and why weighing too frequently can harm the mental health of individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery. Furthermore, we will discuss healthier approaches that can help these patients maintain a positive mindset throughout their weight loss transformation.

The Relationship Between Weight and Mental Health in Bariatric Patients

For individuals who have undergone bariatric surgery, weight plays a significant role in their physical and emotional well-being. However, the constant fixation on weight and the numbers on the scale can lead to a negative body image and impact mental health. One research study found that body dissatisfaction and weight-related concerns among bariatric patients are strongly associated with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety disorders. These findings highlight the importance of addressing the negative impact of excessive weighing on mental health in this specific population.

The Vicious Cycle of Obsessive Weighing

For bariatric patients, excessive weighing can contribute to a vicious cycle that adversely affects their mental health. When individuals become overly focused on their weight, they may experience heightened stress and anxiety. This emotional state can trigger unhealthy behaviors such as disordered eating or an unhealthy obsession with weight loss. 

Additionally, if the numbers on the scale do not align with their weight loss expectations, patients may feel a sense of failure or disappointment. This negative mindset can perpetuate harmful behavior and contribute to a negative self-image, further impacting their mental well-being.

The Impact on Self-Esteem and Body Image

Self-esteem and body image play crucial roles in the mental well-being of bariatric patients. Constantly fixating on weight can erode self-esteem, as individuals tie their self-worth to a number on the scale. Fluctuations in weight, which are common after bariatric surgery, can lead to emotional distress, dissatisfaction, and self-criticism. 

It is important to recognize that weight does not define an individual's worth, and a shift towards self-care and self-acceptance is essential. Emphasizing the importance of overall health, including physical, mental, and emotional aspects, can help bariatric patients develop a more positive self-image and improve their mental well-being.

Healthy Approaches to Weigh Yourself after Bariatric Surgery

Bariatric patients can adopt healthier approaches to maintain positive mental health throughout their weight loss journey. Here are some strategies to consider:

1. Limit weighing frequency

While it is essential to monitor weight, restricting how often you weigh yourself after bariatric surgery can prevent excessive focus and emotional distress. We recommend limiting weighing yourself to at least every other day unless advised otherwise by your bariatric care team or if you are enrolled in a remote patient monitoring program. 

2. Find a weighing schedule

It is important to remember that your weight varies throughout the day. So if you step on the scale at the end of the day and the number has gone up 3 to 5 pounds, don't be alarmed—this is normal. We recommend scheduling a time to weigh yourself so your weight readings are consistent. The best time to weigh yourself is in the morning after you go to the bathroom but before consuming much food and drink. 

3. Focus on non-scale victories

Shift the focus from weight alone to other achievements, such as improved energy levels, increased physical activity, resolution of health conditions, or better overall health indicators like blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

For most patients, when you excessively weigh yourself after bariatric surgery, it can have detrimental effects on mental health during your weight loss journey. By understanding the specific science behind these negative impacts and adopting healthier approaches, individuals can promote positive mental well-being. Limiting weighing frequency, sticking to a weighing schedule, and focusing on non-scale victories are essential to maintaining a balanced and positive mindset throughout the transformative process. Remember, you are more than just a number on a scale, and your worth encompasses so much more.

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Mike Blaney, MD
Dr. Mike Blaney is a board-certified surgeon with over 20 years of experience in general and bariatric surgery. He is the founding physician of Live Healthy MD which has since been acquired by HCA and now operates under the name Doctors Specialists – Bariatrics and Surgical. Dr. Blaney is co-founder and CEO of Bariatric Centers of America and is fueled by a passion to cure the disease of obesity.
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