Feeling nervous before surgery? Try these 6 tips

surgery anxiety

It’s totally normal to feel stressed or nervous before having weight loss surgery. If you’re feeling a little surgery anxiety — or if you want to prepare for potential anxiety about your upcoming weight loss surgery — the following tips may be helpful in the days and weeks before your surgery.

Here are six simple and effective ways to help ease some of the fear and anxiety you may feel as your weight loss surgery gets closer.

1. Do your research

Get lots of information about your surgery as early as possible. The more you know about what to expect, the better you’ll feel about it. Pay close attention to information about success rates and the steps you can take to make your experience more positive before, during and after surgery.

2. Talk to your doctor about your fears

Talking to your doctor about your fears is a great way to learn more about the surgery and get further details on anything you’ve come across in your research. This open communication will also increase your level of trust in your doctor and help ease your worries.

3. Take care of pre-surgery tasks

Focusing on what you need to do to prepare for your surgery will keep you productive and give you a more positive outlook about your surgery. Tasks can include packing your bag, arranging for rides to and from the surgery and making sure you have friends and family around to help with daily chores and activities as you recover.

4. Keep a written list of questions and fears

Sometimes just the simple act of putting your thoughts and fears on paper can help you feel better. Your mind will be free to focus on more positive thoughts and actions. Keeping a list also allows you to keep track of things you want to discuss with your doctor.

5. Get support

Remember, you’re not alone! You can find support from family, friends and co-workers. If you’re feeling especially anxious — or want to talk to someone who can relate more — it might be a good idea to talk to other people who have already gone through the surgery. Hearing about their experiences and getting tips from them can lessen your worries. If you don’t know anyone personally, see if your doctor knows of a local support group or a former patient who would be open to talking to you.

6. Find a calming activity

Spend time each day doing something that helps you to relax. This could be reading, walking, meditating, listening to music or something else. If you aren’t sure what works for you, try different activities until you find the one that suits you best. If possible, take some time doing this activity on the day of your surgery to help you feel as relaxed as possible.

Try these suggestions to combat surgery anxiety and feel more at peace on the day of your procedure. Before you know it, you’ll be on the other side and others will be asking you for support!

Patient Testimonial: Vicki Steidley

gastric sleeve surgery

When full-time RN Vicki Steidley began exploring weight loss surgery options to treat her constant back pain, she was told that back surgery would be impossible due to her obesity. But she was determined to stop her pain, and her neurosurgeon told her that losing weight would allow her to have back surgery or even reduce her need for surgery altogether.

Now, after a receiving a gastric sleeve at the tender age of 64 and losing 78 pounds, Vicki is more energetic, happier and healthier than ever. We spoke to Vicki about her weight loss journey and her experience with Dr. Dirk.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues and were they resolved by the surgery?

I had no quality of life prior to my gastric sleeve surgery and was unable to do the things I enjoyed, like going to flea markets, digging in the dirt and fishing. I became short of breath easily and had back pain 24/7.

What motivated you to get weight loss surgery?

My neurosurgeon suggested weight loss surgery and said that I may not need back surgery if I lost weight. I have battled my weight all my life and never won the battle. As a nurse, I knew I was a high risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Now, I can do all the things I enjoy without back pain. I have never had this much energy or felt this good.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

Dr. Dirk and his staff were so helpful and supportive. He was available to me 24 hours a day. He thoroughly explained everything and really cared about me. I understood that the diet and exercise program was a lifelong commitment, but knew if I wanted any kind of life, this is what I needed to do.

How has your life changed since? 

Everything I had tried in the past just didn’t work. I have the most wonderful life now, and my co-workers are always talking about how good I look. I always have a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

I do stick to the diet, which hasn’t been difficult as I no longer feel hungry. I no longer crave the bad foods I ate in the past, and I always make sure to take in the appropriate amount of protein daily. I go to the gym 5 days a week and I enjoy the way I feel after my workout; challenge myself each time I go. I know the diet and exercise are what make me feel so wonderful and full of energy.

Do you have new outlook on life? 

I have a whole new outlook on life. I wake up every day feeling good and full of energy. My weight loss immediately after surgery was slow, but once the weight started dropping and I started making progress in the gym, I knew I had made the right decision. 

What has been the response from friends and family?

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while yesterday, and he didn’t even recognize me at first. I am constantly telling people how I lost the weight and I recommend Dr. Dirk highly. One of my co-workers went to him for surgery and is also losing weight. My son is also planning on having the surgery after hearing all I have said about Dr. Dirk and his support.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight?

My favorite thing to do now is to challenge myself to do more. I am planning on running a 5K next spring. I can’t say enough that it is never too late to make changes that will improve your outlook on life.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.

Patient Testimonial: Nicole E. Faber

patient testimonial

December 2015                                                 May 2016

With the holidays approaching, many of us are trying to decide how we’re going to shift our diet and workout plans to accommodate that extra piece of pie. Last Thanksgiving, high school math teacher Nicole Faber decided she was done with overeating and that she needed to make a change.

Dr. Dirk performed Nicole’s gastric sleeve surgery the day before Christmas, and since then, she’s lost 137 pounds!

What was your life like before the procedure? Did you have any health issues, and were they resolved by the surgery?

I lead a very busy life. I work two full-time jobs and I used to eat when and where I could — mostly fast food. I would try working out and eating healthy, but nothing seemed to stick. I had no health issues at the time of my surgery, but knew that if I continued down the path I was on, I would.

What motivated you to get surgery?

It was the week of Thanksgiving when I, like everyone else, filled my stomach past capacity. I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. I knew that I needed help and I couldn’t do it alone.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

In our first meeting, Dallas bariatric surgeon, Dr. Dirk told me that being overweight wasn’t my fault — it was a disease. He explained everything in detail and answered all of my questions leading up to surgery. His staff is so nice — they treat you like a human being rather than a number.

On Christmas Eve, the day after my surgery, Dr. Dirk personally called to check on me. He also called again a week later. He truly is there day or night to answer any questions that you may have.

July 2016
July 2016

How has your life changed since surgery?

I no longer have to take pain medication for aches, pains or joints. Honestly, I haven’t had a headache since the surgery. I also have so much more energy and want to constantly be on the go. The best part is that now, I believe in myself.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

The surgery is not a quick fix. It truly is a lifestyle change. If you never change your diet, you will end up in the same place you started. I have not turned into a total health nut, but I do try to eat healthy. I still drink a protein shake a day. I try to only eat beef one to two days a week. I do have days where I eat a hamburger, but always order it without the bun.

For exercise, I joined a women-only gym that keeps a personal trainer on hand for every workout class. It’s place where I can relieve stress and be around like-minded women. I’ve been working on building muscle to fill in and tone the loose skin after weight loss.

Do you have different outlook on life now? Was there a specific moment after the surgery where you knew your life was going to be different?

My outer appearance has changed drastically, and on the inside, I am much happier with my life now. I am able to give more of myself because I am not as tired, my feet don’t hurt and my muscles don’t ache. That means I am able to spend more time on things I like to do, like hiking, hunting, fishing and working in the garden.

August 2016
August 2016

What has been the response from friends and family?

My friends and family have been very supportive throughout the whole journey. My friends love it because I am a cheap date — I either eat off the kid’s menu or eat off their plate. I had my surgery right before Christmas and was only able to consume liquids. My family even offered to not eat in front of me.

What would you tell someone considering weight loss surgery? Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?

I’d say, “Why are you waiting?” It is a lifestyle change, but it is the best decision I have ever made in my life. I highly recommend Dr. Dirk not only for his professionalism, but for his lovely staff, from the office to the hospital.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight and are living a healthier, happier life?

My favorite thing to do after surgery is simply live life. I live life to the fullest every day and feel great about it. I can’t believe I robbed myself of living my life for so long by being overweight.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.

Patient Testimonial: Charles Martinez

patient testimonial

Before, 488 lbs                                  13 Months after surgery, 255 lbs

Meet Charles Martinez, a 44-year-old freelance makeup artist and stylist who weighed 488 pounds when he walked into Dr. Dirk’s office for the first time. On December 23, 2014, Dr. Dirk performed gastric sleeve surgery on Charles. Now it’s been 13 months since his surgery, and Charles has lost a total of 233 pounds—but he’s not done yet.

We asked Charles a few questions about life before weight loss surgery and why he chose Dr. Dirk to help start his journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues?

Life was difficult before the procedure. Getting out of bed alone was a chore, and walking my dogs was grueling. Coming to work and putting on a happy face wasn’t always easy, especially in my line of work. I had heel spurs in both feet that made it difficult to walk or perform duties that entailed standing for long periods of time or walking long distances.

I also had many health issues. I had low testosterone (I’m very thankful I don’t have to inject myself anymore), arthritis in both knees (which has diminished substantially), severe high blood pressure (I’m extremely proud to say I no longer need medications) and was diagnosed with prediabetes and borderline high cholesterol, both of which are gone now.

What motivated you to get surgery?

Many years ago, my aunt had bariatric surgery. Due to many complications, she wasn’t able to complete her weight loss journey. After her passing, I vowed that I would not be another victim of death due to obesity. Though she’s not with us anymore, I take great strength from my aunt’s memory and her determination to better herself.

A year after her death, my best friend confided to me that she had sleeve surgery and lost over 100 pounds. After my primary care physician informed me I was pre-diabetic and had borderline high cholesterol, I knew it was time for a major life change. We discussed my weight loss options at length, and after several months, he referred me to Dallas bariatric surgeon, Dr. Dirk Rodriguez.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

I have to admit that when I first met Dr. Dirk, I was extremely nervous. From my first visit, he put me at complete ease. He has been extremely supportive through every office visit and phone call. If I had a problem and he wasn’t available, he would always take time out of his day to return my call. Without his help and support, I truly don’t know where I would be today. He never treated me like just another patient, but like I was the most important person in the room.

How has your life changed since your surgery?

It’s been 13 months since my surgery, and life has become a whole new adventure. I guess the biggest thrill so far is being able to walk several miles without getting winded. Or actually being able to run—it’s been several years since I’ve been able to do that. It’s funny: When I look at myself in the mirror, I still see the big man. When I go to put clothes on, I have to remind myself that these new smaller clothes will fit me. Though I know that I’m literally half the man I used to be, sometimes I find it hard to believe. I went from a size 66-68 to a size 38-40 in pants and a size 6X-7X shirt to an XL. In my eyes, my journey has just begun—I have a ways to go.patient testimonial

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

At first, it was extremely difficult to change my diet. After years of abusing food and using it as a crutch, it was hard to view food solely as fuel for my body. Now I still stick with a basic schedule: a meal every two hours with my liquid intake between. Everything I eat is geared toward my sleeve: high protein, low sugar, low carb everything.

I was never one for exercising or joining the gym. Now I go to the gym five days a week, Monday through Friday. I never would’ve imagined that I would actually enjoy working out. Getting into a daily routine, waking up every morning, going to the gym and doing what I have to do to maintain what I have accomplished is its own reward.

Do you have different outlook on life? Is there a specific moment that you remember after the surgery when you knew your life was going to be different? 

Life has taken on joy, and every day is a new adventure for me. It’s thrilling to see what life has in store for me. I knew the first day after surgery my life had changed. It was more than the weight loss—it was everything about me. The way I perceive myself now is eye-opening. My confidence is stronger, and my way of thinking has been transformed. This is the new me, and there’s no looking back now. I’m proud of the new me.

What has been the response from friends and family?

Before I had my surgery, I decided that I wouldn’t tell any of my family. I wanted it to be a big surprise, and I didn’t want anyone to try to talk me out of it. So you can imagine the reaction I get when family members I haven’t seen in years see me for the first time. Even my friends and coworkers are amazed at what I’ve been able to accomplish in such a short time. It gives me great pride when people tell me that I’m an inspiration.

What would you tell someone else considering weight loss surgery? Would you recommend Dr. Dirk and why?

I actually have recommended Dr. Dirk to several friends and family. My cousin Ruby Adame followed in my footsteps and had her sleeve surgery done a couple of months after me. She’s done an unbelievable job and lost a great deal of weight. I even have a coworker that just met with Dr. Dirk. I’m so excited for her to start her new journey. It’s like I told her: It’s time to get healthy. Do it for you and your children. Do it for a better you, because you deserve to live a longer, healthier life. Dr. Dirk provides the tools we need to succeed, but it’s up to us to learn how to use those tools to meet our needs.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you’ve lost weight and live a healthier, happier life?

Walking. It’s one thing we all take for granted—the power of using your own body to get around and experience new things in life. As an extremely large man, I never was able to fully experience my own surroundings. I’d get winded just going to the curb. Until now, exploring my neighborhood on long walks with my two dogs was out of the question. Going on vacation knowing that I can go sightseeing without getting tired is an amazing feeling.