Weight loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a popular method of treatment for obesity. There are many myths and misconceptions that accompany this surgery and its results, so this article will aim to explain and debunk these weight loss myths and hopefully help those that might be considering bariatric weight loss surgery options.
What is Bariatric Surgery
Common bariatric surgery procedures include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy and adjustable gastric band surgery. These surgeries are often performed when things like diet or exercise have not worked, or when serious health concerns are caused as a result of excessive weight problems.
Bariatric Surgery, or Weight loss surgery, work by changing the anatomy of the stomach and the small intestines. The surgery results in causing changes in appetite and satiety, which is the feeling of being full, and the body’s metabolism (how quickly it burns calories).
While this surgery offers many benefits, it is also important to make permanent healthy changes to both your diet and lifestyle, to ensure its success long term.
Common Misconception #1: Bariatric Surgery is Dangerous.
While it is a fact that any surgery carries some risk, recent advancements in this surgery have greatly reduced these risks. Today, most types of bariatric surgery can be performed laparoscopically. The laparoscope is a small, tube with a camera attached, which is inserted through small incisions in the abdomen. This is a low risk and minimally invasive procedure.
It is also worth noting that the risk of death from surgery is considerably less for patients of the bariatric surgery than that of severely obese individuals that have not had the weight loss surgery. For reference, data that can be seen here, shows an incredible 89 percent reduction in the mortality rate due to specific weight related diseases including cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Common Misconception #2: Why Would I Bother When I Can Just Diet And Exercise?
Whilst diet and exercise are incredibly important for both losing and maintaining weight loss, this may not be enough for some patients that are severely obese. Changes in diet and exercise can result in weight loss, but many people will also struggle to keep this up, leading to them gaining their weight back.
Obesity is a much more complex condition today, as it is not just caused by overeating and a lack of impulse control, but a condition resulting from many factors including genetic, biologic, behavioural, social and economic factors.
What happens to many people that lose weight from dieting alone, is that the body will compensate with biological changes, including an increased appetite and a slower metabolism, and these changes can often persist long term which leads to many putting their weight back on again.
Misconception #3 Bariatric Surgery Will Make Me Thin
Whilst you will typically lose 30-65 percent of excess body weight, results will also vary with gender, weight, age and physical condition or any medical conditions. The most important part in the success of bariatric surgery, is implementing and maintaining long-term changes in both your diet and lifestyle.
The overall goal of bariatric surgery is to improve health, mobility and overall quality of life. Many view an ideal weight or clothing size as the barometer of success and set an unrealistic expectation. The bulk of the weight loss occurs in the first year after the surgery, but it is also common to regain a little bit of weight before stabilising.
Misconception #3: Most People Will Gain The Weight Back
As mentioned previously, most patients weight loss who have undergone the surgery occurs during the first year. However long-term studies that have been conducted show that more patients that have undergone the surgery keep the weight off compared to those that have not, reinforcing that bariatric surgery is effective for long-term weight loss.
Misconception #4: Surgery Can Affect How The Body Absorbs Vitamins And Minerals.
Bariatric weight loss surgery comes in different forms, some of these surgeries can change the way that the body absorbs vitamins and minerals meaning deficiencies are possible. This side effect is easily preventable by taking supplements after the weight loss procedure.
Misconception #5: Bariatric Surgery Means I Cant Have Children After
For patients that have undergone the procedure, it is advised that they only not become pregnant during the first two years after surgery. This is because the bariatric surgery is intended to induce weight loss, the opposite of what is needed in the body during the pregnancy period. On the contrary, weight loss leads to a higher fertility rate.
Misconception #6: Bariatric Surgery Leads To Alcoholism
There have been a number of studies conducted that have shown results that indicate there is no clear link between bariatric weight loss procedure and excessive alcohol use, in fact, it is advised for patients to cut down on alcohol following the surgery.
Misconception #7: Bariatric Surgery Leaves A Massive Scar
With regards to past traditional surgeries, these would leave scars, however with recent advances in technology and the use of laparoscopic procedures, this has led to far less scarring and quicker recovery times for patients.
Misconception #8: It’s Just The “Easy Way Out”
This is a common weight loss surgery myth, but any patient considering bariatric surgery options are required to prepare for 4-6months prior to the procedure. This includes multiple assessments and appointments with doctors. It is also crucial to implement long term health and lifestyle changes after the surgery.
Misconception #9: The Surgery Will Stop Me Overeating
The surgery will initially create changes in the brain that will help reduce cravings for sugar and make eating sweets less rewarding, but this will not happen for all patients and it’s important to note that the surgery will not cure binge eating conditions.
Misconception#10: Weight Loss Surgery Is Only About The Weight
Whilst it will help with weight loss making the stomach smaller leading to less calorie consumption, the overall goal of bariatric surgery is to improve health, mobility and quality of life.
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