How to Deal with Pre-Surgery Anxiety

How to Deal with Pre-Surgery Anxiety

Alex Brecher

Are you getting worried about your weight loss surgery? It’s normal! It’s a life-changing event, but it doesn’t end on that day. When you get your surgery, you’re committing to a lifetime of smart eating and healthy choices. But what happens when the jitters kick in?

The path to getting ready for surgery can be long. It can take a lot of time, effort, and money to get your approval and make your plans. How many phone calls, consultations, appointments, and emails did it take? Once you’ve made your plans, you may stop and realize that surgery is a reality. And that can mean it’s time to become anxious. Here are some tips for how to deal with pre-surgery anxiety.

Balance Risk and Benefits

When you start to get nervous, think about why you’re getting the surgery in the first place. There’s a good chance that health plays into it, whether you have health concerns now or you want to stay healthy for longer in the future. The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, or ASMBS, says that bariatric surgery is the most effective way to lose weight and improve health if you have morbid obesity. In fact, ASMBS says that bariatric surgery reduced overall risk of mortality by 30 to 50% and there’s a 50% risk reduction in mortality from cardiovascular disease. Cancer and diabetes mortality rates decrease, too.

It is true that about 1 in 25 patients have major complications, but what about the risk of not getting surgery? In comparison, 38% of adults have prediabetes and 11% have diabetes. That’s already 1 in 9 adults with diabetes - a disease linked to obesity - and that doesn’t even count the 1 in 2 adults with high blood pressure, or numerous adults with high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and other obesity-related health problems.

Safety Is Increasing

Over time, complication rates have decreased. Bariatric surgery has come a long way in the past 2 decades. Techniques are improving. Equipment has advanced. Surgeons are more experienced. Surgeons know more about how to prepare you and what you can do to stay safe.

Practice So You Can Gather Confidence

Are you feeling anxious because you’re not sure you can do the post-op diet? Then prove that you can! Start now to follow a diet that is like the diet that you’ll be following long-term. Get used to choosing high-protein, low-carb foods, and taking smaller portion sizes. You’ll see that you can do it.

Lose Weight

As you practice your post-op diet, you can improve your health, too. Along with eating right you can exercise as long as your surgeon or doctor gives the approval. You can lose a few pounds and be healthier for surgery. That can make you feel more confident because you know that you’re doing everything you can to lower your risk for complications and to speed recovery after the procedure.

Identify Fears

Sometimes, anxiety comes from not knowing what to expect or feeling out of control. It can help to identify and address your fears. For example:

  • If you’re afraid of failure, try practicing your post-op diet and your post-op exercise routine so you know you can do it.
  • If you’re scared of complications, try to lose weight before surgery and make sure you follow all of your surgeon’s guidelines for pre-op prep.
  • If you’re afraid of pain after surgery, try to lose weight beforehand. Recovery will be faster. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about pain management. 
  • If you’re afraid of stigma or feeling alone, then create a support system. Find trusted friends or family members who will be there for you. Online forums such as BariatricPal can be great places, too, to find people who know exactly what you’re going through.


Relaxation techniques can help. That can include meditating, exercising, and socializing. The BariatricPal Store has certain nutritional supplements that are designed to help with relaxation or sleep.* They may support you during this unsettling and busy time.

  • SuperAdapt™ Stress Suppress® Tea by The Republic Of Tea - Floral Zingy
  • This tea contains a proprietary blend of Tulsi (holy basil), hibiscus, and rhodiola rosea to help support calming and relaxation. The ingredients have been used as adaptogens to help support your body in its stress response to avoid exhaustion and limit negative effects. Steep a tea bag and have a cup hot or over ice.

  • Melatonin Delayed-Release 10mg Capsules (60ct) - Supports Sleep! by BariatricPal
  • Skipping sleep is one of the worst things you can do when you’re anxious, but it’s harder to sleep when you’re worrying! These capsules contain melatonin, which is a natural sleep hormone that your body produces. It’s been linked to falling asleep faster and staying asleep during the night.

  • Sleep Gummies by CandyCan - Fruity Bears
  • Why not make bedtime something to look forward to with these gummy treats? They have Ashwagandha extract, which has been used as an adaptogen to improve the stress response. They also have gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a chemical that your brain produces for relaxation and wellbeing. They have only natural colors and are sweetened with monk fruit and stevia, which are natural sugar-free sweeteners. They have only 3 grams of net carbs, and have 21 grams of dietary fiber. Flavors in each bag include Peach Apricot Mango, Lemon Lime, and Strawberry.

  • Mood Stabilizer Vitamin Patch Pack by PatchAid
  • If you don’t want to worry about taking an oral supplement to relax, a vitamin patch or patch pack may be right for you. This patch pack has the B12 Plus Patch for energy and mood, Omega-3 Patch for heart health and brain support, the Sleep Aid Patch to support rest and rejuvenation, and the Vitamin D3 and Calcium Patch to keep your brain and heart in tip-top shape.

    Weight loss surgery can definitely make you nervous, but there are ways to calm those nerves. By learning everything you can about what to expect, by reminding yourself about the likely benefits of surgery, and by preparing as well as you can for your post-op diet and exercise program, you can help reduce pre-surgery anxiety. Supplements for sleep or relaxation can also help.

    *The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. BariatricPal products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Anyone with a medical condition should seek the advice of a licensed medical practitioner. Individual results may vary.

    Pre-surgery anxiety