A lot of thought goes into having bariatric surgery. Research ranging from which procedure to which surgeon should I choose is done. But not many people think about their answer to a common question encountered after surgery.

“Wow, you look great! What have you been doing to lose all that weight? I have tried it. Tell me the details!”

You certainly can’t keep a secret that you’ve lost half of your body weight in less than a year. But do you reveal the intimate details of exactly how this dramatic change came about? What you decide is a personal choice, without a wrong or right answer. It comes down to whatever is most comfortable for you.

Inevitably, you will share the news with some people, whom I put into three groups: supporters, critics, and relaters.

Supporters: You need love, support, encouragement, cheerleading, and coaching. Surgery is not like any diet you’ve done in the past. If you don’t tell anyone what you’re going through, it can be more difficult for people to support you through this process. When others have an understanding of the challenges you face, they can learn how you prefer to receive support and encouragement. When your colleagues know you can’t have ice cream because you literally can’t have it, they might be more likely to offer healthier options at the next work picnic. When your great aunt knows you can’t eat more than a cup of food, she might be less likely to push the second serving of mashed potatoes during Thanksgiving dinner.

Critics: These are the people who suddenly seem to think they’re weight loss experts and are extremely opinionated about surgery. Their critical response is likely due to lack of knowledge or education about bariatric surgery, their own personal struggle with weight, jealousy, or sheer ignorance. You need to accept that their reaction does not take away from your ability to achieve success after surgery, nor does it validate their response. Again, confidence is key. your self-worth is not determined by other people’s opinions of bariatric surgery.

Relaters: Bariatric surgery is the most successful long-term treatment for obesity – hands down. Unfortunately, many physicians fail to recommend this as an option for appropriate patients, and it’s still often falsely viewed as a taboo treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of people in the United States are obese or overweight. As someone who’s had weight loss surgery, you can be an inspiration to others and motivate them to take their health back into their own hands. While they won’t all have bariatric surgery, they may follow your lead on making healthier lifestyle changes. And you may gain a workout buddy, a farmers’ market friend, or a willing ear to talk with along the way.

Bottom Line: Do what makes you comfortable! There is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to discussing your weight or your efforts to get control of it. Obesity and obesity surgery are medical issues, and they are as personal as any other condition and treatment, so you have the right to discuss them — or refuse to discuss them — just as you would with another medical issue. If it makes you uncomfortable and you prefer to let the results speak for themselves, it is entirely OK to keep quiet and be happy with any appreciative glances and supportive comments you may experience.

If you choose to be more open about your weight loss surgery, it’s also OK to bring it up in conversation. You can volunteer the information or let people ask questions, and you can go into as much detail as you like, given the comfort level and depth of the conversation.

If someone says, “You’ve lost so much weight! How do you do it?” you can describe your operation and its consequences in as much detail as the situation demands. Or, you can simply say, “Thanks. Hard work.” And you’ll be telling the truth, because the surgery doesn’t do the job for you — you’ll have earned each pound you lose through diet and exercise. The surgery simply helps you on your way.

Whichever approach you choose, you can be proud of the work you’re doing for the good of your health!

It’s personal, and you should do what makes you feel best.