Weight Loss Surgery Isn’t the “Easy Way Out”

Author:
Posted: July 12th, 2019

Contrary to common misconceptions, weight loss surgery is an important part of a holistic plan that enables patients to manage their weight and improve their long-term health.

Weight loss surgery can help patients address a variety of conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, and joint pain. Yet many people who could benefit from this treatment may resist the procedure because they see it as taking “the easy way out.” 

A recent study published in JAMA Surgery confirmed that these misconceptions may hold patients back from what could be a life-saving surgery. When researchers asked 948 participants about their attitudes toward weight loss surgery, nearly 50% said the main reason people underwent the procedure was to improve their appearance. Another 40% viewed surgery as “the easy way out” of dealing with obesity.

These negative perceptions may deter people from getting the treatment they need. The truth is, many obese people have already tried to lose weight with diet and exercise without achieving the results necessary to improve their health. Weight loss surgery is therefore an effective tool — especially when combined with permanent lifestyle changes — to help patients manage their weight and address any accompanying conditions.

Commitment to Change

In order to undergo weight loss, or bariatric, surgery, candidates have to meet several requirements. Patients should be at least 80 pounds or more overweight or have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. This means that someone looking to shed 20 pounds would not be a candidate for the surgery.

Furthermore, candidates will be asked whether they have been obese for more than five years. Doctors will also want to know if they’ve attempted to slim down by traditional means, but have been unsuccessful.

Candidates for weight loss surgery undergo psychological evaluations as well. For example, are they willing to dramatically change their eating habits and lifestyle to maintain their weight loss for the rest of their life?

Even before the surgery, patients are advised to limit their caloric intake. To avoid any surgical complications, some candidates will need to lose between 15 to 20 pounds, or 10% of their body weight. 

After the Surgery

Immediately after surgery patients will notice a significant drop in their weight. This is typically because patients are put on a liquid diet for about three weeks following the operation. If they want to keep that initial weight off, and lose more pounds, they’ll have to permanently adjust their diet to take in fewer calories.

For many, that’s when the greatest challenge starts. Although weight loss patients cannot consume large portions because of their decreased stomach size, they also have to cut back on sugary and high-calorie foods to continue to shed weight. 

A common misconception is that the surgery permits patients to eat anything they want after the procedure and still lose weight. That’s not the case. Many patients work with a nutritionist or fitness trainer to ensure the pounds stay off for good by following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

Far from being a “cheat,” weight loss surgery demands patients adhere to a strict nutritional and fitness regimen. Making those serious lifestyle changes is far from easy, but can make all the difference in improving their long-term health. 

If you’re interested in learning more about weight loss surgery, set up an appointment with Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors. Our team of surgeons and nutritionists will help determine whether bariatric surgery is right for you, as well as how to proceed on a successful weight loss journey.