Dispelling the myths around bariatric surgery

This post was written by Jenna Walker, MS, RDN, LD, bariatric coordinator, PPG – Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery.

Myth: Bariatric surgery is the easy way out.

Truth: Most patients who are seeking bariatric surgery have tried to lose weight for years with countless diets, exercise and medications. It is typically a decision the individual has given a great deal of thought. To have bariatric surgery, there is a process of usually 3-6 months plus of meeting with a surgeon, dietitian, psychologist and exercise physiologist, among other staff. It is important that patients learn and begin to work on the lifestyle changes before surgery, so it is not a complete shock after surgery.

After surgery, there is a daily regimen of getting fluid, eating properly and starting more regular activity. It is definitely not easy and there are many “rules” to follow, but it will be worth it long-term if you follow recommendations and stay on track. No one is perfect after bariatric surgery, but it is important to stick to the lifestyle changes patients have worked so hard to adopt. It can significantly improve quality of life and health for many.

Myth: Most people regain their weight after surgery.

Truth: As many as 50% of patients can regain a small amount of weight (about 5%) two years or more following their surgery. Studies show that most bariatric surgery patients maintain successful weight loss long-term. “Successful” is defined as weight loss equal to or greater than 50% of excess body weight. Patients who are morbidly obese are better off having surgery and maintain more of their weight loss compared to those who use changes in diet and exercise alone.

Myth: Bariatric surgery will make me thin.

Truth: Expected weight loss varies with the type of surgery, your starting weight, age, gender, physical activity and medical condition. A patient normally will lose 30–65% of their excess body weight, but making long-term changes in your diet and exercise routine can help an individual surpass the average percent. At PPG – Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery, we view improved health as taking fewer medications due to related comorbidities (blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, etc.), improved mobility and improved quality of life overall.

Myth: Weight loss surgery will make me happy and improve my relationships.

Truth: While weight loss is very helpful in improving quality of life, it will not magically make you happy in every area of your life or improve relationships. Weight loss surgery and the lifestyle changes that come with it will need to be supported by family and friends or it can strain these relationships. At PPG – Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery, we offer support groups as well as a licensed mental health counselor on staff to help patients navigate the many changes that come along with bariatric surgery.

Myth: Bariatric surgery will keep me from overeating.

Truth: Temporarily, bariatric surgery can create changes in brain biochemistry to reduce cravings for sugar and make eating sweets less rewarding after surgery. Especially in the first year to 18 months. Although, this does not happen for everyone. Bariatric surgery will not cure different eating disorders such as binge eating, bulimia or compulsive/emotional overeating disorders. If food has become a coping mechanism, you will need to adopt healthier ways of coping before surgery. If this is not addressed prior to surgery patients are at risk of resuming unhealthy behaviors and regaining weight or developing issues with depression or anxiety after surgery.

Myth: Bariatric surgery patients have serious health problems and vitamin/mineral deficiencies after surgery.

Truth: Bariatric surgeries vary in the amount of malabsorption they can cause after surgery. There are recommended nutrient guidelines for the different types of bariatric surgery provided by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Before and after surgery, patients are advised on the vitamins/minerals and protein they will need to take after surgery. Lab levels are also routinely checked post-surgery.  Health problems due to deficiencies usually occur in patients who do not follow-up regularly and those who do not take the recommended vitamins, minerals and protein long-term.

 

Sources

https://mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/6-misconceptions-about-bariatric-surgery

https://asmbs.org/patients/bariatric-surgery-misconceptions

 

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