Medically Reviewed by:Nancy DeLuca, RDRegistered Dietitian
If you have had weight loss surgery, you should use both in-person and online support to help with your weight loss journey.Online weight loss support, which is often free, has been shown to lead to more weight loss if used correctly. Your options for online support include:
- Person-to-person avenues like online support groups, forums, and chat rooms
- Interactive tools for planning, keeping diaries, and food journals
- Ongoing education that keeps you informed of the latest research and techniques to maximize your health and weight loss
Read the sections below to learn more about the weight loss support resources available to you online.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Click on any of the topics below to jump directly to that section
- You'll lose more weight
- You can get help right when you need it
- You'll have easy, frequent access to the most up-to-date research
Online weight loss surgery support helps patients in four significant ways:
- More Weight Loss. Regular support group participation has been found to result in 12% more weight loss on average. Online tools also help you easily and efficiently set goals, track your post-surgery progress, create and follow bariatric diet and weight loss surgery exercise plans and keep a journal of your feelings, challenges and accomplishments. These tools will make your weight-loss journey much more goal-oriented and will provide invaluable information when working with your dietitian, psychologist and other bariatric professionals.We’ll review top tools further down this page.
- Help When You Need It. Receive advice and encouragement right when you need it without having to wait until your next in-person weight loss surgery support group meeting.
- Ultimate Convenience. Online weight loss surgery support groups provide a way to interact with bariatric professionals and other patients without needing to commute to/from the meetings or adhere to your clinic’s limited class times.
- Easy regular access to the most up-to-date bariatric research. Regardless of how knowledgeable your bariatric doctors are, it would be impossible for them to keep up with the ongoing research related to all areas of weight loss surgery. Utilizing the right tools for ongoing education will keep you at the forefront of “what works” and provide you with important questions and discussion points for future meetings with your bariatric professionals.
- These platforms can offer support 24/7/365
- They are usually free
- You can browse categories or search for specific questions and answers from others in your situation
As mentioned above, regular support group attendance has been shown to result in 12% more weight loss.The impact of the regular advice and encouragement you’ll receive from real people – bariatric professionals and other patients – is irreplaceable, especially if you are unable to attend your in-person support group meetings due to time constraints, cost or any other issue.
Online forums and chat rooms are another helpful option for interacting with other patients. They allow you to ask questions, post responses and browse information posted by other members.
Some forums and chat rooms are more elaborate than others, but in general they are organized in the following way (use the scroll bar to the right):
- They operate 24/7. With the larger forums, you can usually find members logged on around the clock from locations across the country and around the world. This means that you can receive/provide advice and encouragement when and where you need it (as long as you have a computer and internet access).
- You can usually create an account and participate for free by signing up via the forum’s home page (we’ve provided links in the next section)
- Search for questions/answers from others.
- Browse categories of Forum Topics to find your area of interest. (i.e. “Gastric Bypass”) If there is no topic available for your issue, you can create a new one via the “New Topic” button on the main forum page. Within each category, find and click the Forum Topic link that applies to your area of interest (i.e. “Gastric Bypass Diet”). Each forum topic usually lists at least two useful numbers, including…
- Threads– the number of questions/issues posted within the forum topic. Each time you ask a brand new question, you will do so by creating a new thread.
- Posts – the number of total contributions from members within each forum topic, including questions/comments posted as a new thread and all responses to those threads from other members. In other words, every time a member submits information to a forum topic, a new post is created. (Sometimes “Replies” is used instead of “Posts”, which simply lists the number of responses a topic or thread has received)
- Chat rooms, which are not offered by all forums, allow you to have a written conversation with other members in real time. Chat rooms only work if the person you are “chatting with” with is also online.
Advice from Forums & Chat Rooms
Be careful when receiving advice from other patients in an unmoderated setting. While other patients usually have the best of intentions, you should not rely on their feedback as medical advice.
Before acting on any information you receive online, confirm its validity with your bariatric doctors.
Forums and chat rooms are easy to use after you get the hang of things, so head over to the following page for a list of the top forums and give one a shot:
- All of these can be essential for tracking your progress and identifying where you might need improvement
- Many of these great online tools are free (details below)
Bariatric Surgery Smartphone AppsBarimate is a weight management iPhone App written specifically for current and prospective bariatric surgery patients. It includes nine sub-apps to help you make informed choices about surgery and keep track of your weight changes and parameters like BMI and %EWL.
Online tools, diaries and food journals are an invaluable resource for several reasons and we strongly recommend that you use one:
- You will be more likely to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals. For example, a recent study showed that patients who self-monitor their progress are less likely to regain any weight following bariatric surgery ( 1).
- Many of the best online tools are absolutely free to use (including our picks referenced below).
- Save all of your information for future reference and automated tracking.
- Best method for accumulating detailed information about your daily activities, diet issues, exercise routine and even your daily mood and feelings. Not only is this information important for keeping you on track to reach and maintain your goals, but giving your bariatric doctors access can help them identify and correct any problem areas.
See our Reviews of the Top Free Diet Journal & Exercise Journal Options page to evaluate the differences and choose between two of the best tools.
- If you continue to learn the "best-practices", it improves your chances of meeting your long-term weight and health goals
Bariatric surgery is constantly evolving. New research is conducted every month that reshapes the weight loss surgery community’s understanding of best practices.
In addition to the procedures themselves, ongoing research focuses on every area of the bariatric patient’s life… from preparing for surgery to post-surgery diet and exercise to long-term maintenance.
Unfortunately, even the best bariatric doctors simply don’t have the time to stay up-to-the-minute on the latest research. Even after they are made aware of it via their required continuing education, it may be years before they have the time and resources to train their staff and update their systems.
Staying in touch with the latest research will allow you to:
- Have the information necessary to improve your chances of achieving and maintaining your long-term goals.
- Ask the right questions to your surgeon, dietitian, psychologist, personal trainer and other bariatric professionals to help guide your treatment.
- Share important information with your in-person bariatric surgery support group.
Bariatric Surgery Source has you covered in the education department. In addition to browsing the topics down the left hand side and at the bottom of each of our pages and using our search boxes (at the top left and bottom of every page) to find answers when you need them, consider signing up for the following:
- The FREE Bariatric Surgery Blog – set up as an RSS feed, the Bariatric Surgery Blog will save you time by letting you know when new content is posted to our site. Click below for more info and to sign up…