Debunking 5 Common Myths About Bariatric Surgery

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Bariatric surgery is a weight loss option for people who are morbidly obese and at increased risk of developing serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Bariatric surgery is well-established as the most effective treatment of morbid obesity. Most insurances provide coverage for bariatric surgical services, and most primary care physicians advocate surgical weight loss for their morbidly obese patients. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about bariatric surgery that may cause people who are candidates (at least 100 pounds above ideal body weight; a BMI of 40 or greater) to reject this potentially life-saving surgery.

5 Myths About Bariatric Surgery

Myth #1: People don’t need bariatric surgery. They just need to eat less and exercise more.

While non-surgical weight loss options like diet and exercise are always preferable, they aren’t the best choices for everyone.

In fact, studies show that over a five-year period, a person who is morbidly obese has less than a 9% chance of losing weight by making lifestyle changes. Bariatric surgery is the only treatment endorsed for morbid obesity by the National Institutes of Health.

Myth #2: Bariatric surgery is taking the easy way out.

Surgical weight loss is often mistaken as an "easy out" for the morbidly obese individual who wants to lose weight. This misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Successful surgical patients always work hard for their weight loss results. While previous efforts often led to frustration, the hard work after surgery leads to sustainable weight loss.

The hard work includes making right food choices, avoiding skipping meals, limiting portion sizes, staying hydrated between meals, and exercising every day. Patients who enforce healthy weight management habits will reap tremendous benefits. Those who do not make the effort will often regain their weight after bariatric surgery.

Myth #3: I'm not healthy enough to undergo bariatric surgery.

Bariatric surgery is intended to treat the disease of obesity, as well as the many diseases linked to obesity (comorbidities). By definition, healthy people do not need bariatric surgery. Rather, people with multiple comorbidities are often those who experience the greatest benefit from weight loss. Conversation between the patient and surgeon will help determine whether bariatric surgery is a viable and safe option.

Myth #4: Most people regain their weight after bariatric surgery.

Most patients will experience a rebound weight gain of 5 to 10% after weight loss surgery. This usually occurs when they do not stick with recommended lifestyle changes. 70-80% of bariatric surgical patients are successful in losing and keeping of a significant amount of excess weight. That means the majority of surgical patients achieve and maintain weight loss success.

Patients can regain all of the weight they lost after surgery and the risk of health problems related to being overweight can return, if they do not change their lifestyle. The good news is, as you lose weight, physical activity becomes easier and the results more apparent.

Myth #5: Bariatric surgery is too risky. People die after this risky surgery.

The risks of weight loss surgery are similar to other surgical procedures. Bariatric surgery, when performed in a Center of Excellence like Lancaster General Hospital, has a lower rate of complications than laparoscopic gallbladder removal, knee replacement, or hernia repair. The risks of remaining morbidly obese are far greater than the benefits gained after bariatric surgery.

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James Ku, MD

James Ku, MD, is a fellowship-trained bariatric surgeon with Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery. 

Education: Medical School—Thomas Jefferson Medical College; Residency—The Graduate Hospital; Fellowship—University of North Carolina.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.

 

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