Bariatric Surgery Myth Number One

Bariatric surgery is a last resort

One of the comments we hear most often from our patients is that they simply waited too long to have bariatric surgery and they wish they would have done it sooner. Thinking back on the months and years when they were unable to tie their shoes, play with their kids or grandkids, fit into a carnival ride or airplane seat can be discouraging, as these are all things that they may be able to do now, often just six months to a year after surgery. It can be difficult to reconcile the fact that so many years were lost to this preventable and curable disease of obesity. Unfortunately, this is the case for most of our patients because they believed that bariatric surgery was the last resort. They spent years and thousands of dollars trying diets, supervised medical weight loss programs, and even pills to help them lose weight. But for most, the weight simply came back– sometimes even more so than before. This cycle is hard to break because, simply put, weight loss surgery has been branded as a last resort.

Let’s think about this concept and dissect whether surgery truly is a last resort for those suffering from obesity and its related diseases or comorbidities. Let’s imagine that you have a shoulder injury. The injury significantly limits your mobility and ability to perform many of the activities you love. You have a few options. First, you can leave it alone, potentially letting it get worse and leading to further complications all while bearing the pain. Second, you could take medication which relieves the pain temporarily and allows you to perform some of those activities, but ultimately does not cure the problem. All the while, the medication is masking the pain, but the problem may be getting worse. Or, you have the option to undergo a curative procedure in the form of surgery which, after an adjustment in recovery, will most likely fix the problem and allow you to lead a normal life.

When framed in this way, shoulder surgery seems like an acceptable option and may even be the ONLY acceptable option of the three. There are many parallels to bariatric surgery. Obesity is a debilitating disease that does not allow us to perform many of the activities we want and ultimately leads to significant, life-limiting consequences like heart disease, higher risk of stroke, and joint problems. However, many of us see excess weight as a personal failure that must be corrected on our own. This may be true for a few extra pounds, but managing obesity is much more complicated. When we consider the emotional, physical, and financial costs of obesity, surgery in the form of gastric bypass, gastric sleeve, or duodenal switch should be viewed as one of the first lines of defense rather than a last resort.

To be sure, we have all heard bad weight loss surgery stories. There are people who have experienced complications or haven’t lost as much weight as they expected.  We don’t expect, nor do we want you to jump into bariatric surgery without fully understanding the benefits, risks, and considerations. As such, we invite you to attend one of our in-person seminars or watch our online seminar to learn more about our practice, our results, and how we mitigate risk. We also find it beneficial for patients considering bariatric surgery to attend one of our support groups. There, other patients who have experienced the same questions and doubts can help answer pressing questions with first-hand knowledge.

We look forward to speaking with you and assisting with the decision as to whether or not bariatric surgery is right for your particular circumstances.

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