Everyone seems to have an opinion about bariatric surgery. Some people are talking from their own experience but many others read something online or heard a bad story from a colleague or think that the whole thing is unnecessary because willpower is all you need.
Some myths are completely incorrect, others have a grain of truth in them but ignore the bigger picture. Let’s take a look at 10 of the common myths so we can get to the truth about bariatric surgery.
1. Weight loss surgery doesn’t work
To answer that question, we need to start with the goals of bariatric surgery. The goal of each type of bariatric surgery is usually to help you lose weight and reduce your risk of serious obesity-related health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnoea and fatty liver disease.
So, does it work? Yes.
A review of the various types of bariatric surgery concluded that weight loss surgery ‘results in a profound decrease in risk for coronary heart disease and overall mortality…bariatric surgery has become a powerful treatment option to help control the obesity epidemic.’
2. Bariatric surgery has awful side effects
There are side effects to any medical or surgical treatment. All treatment choices are made carefully, aiming to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks.
So, yes, there are side effects to bariatric surgery. Your surgeon will discuss these with you before you decide whether or not to have the operation so that you’re fully informed.
Common side effects include constipation, gallstones and nutrition difficulties. These can all be managed. Usually, these side effects are outweighed by the benefits of your weight loss such as a renewed zest for life and significantly reduced health risks.
3. You should just eat less and exercise more
This myth can be really hurtful. You’ve tried this many times already. For many people, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s a lonely struggle already.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have shown that your tendency to gain weight or stay thin is strongly influenced by your genes. It is genuinely harder for some of us to maintain a healthy weight than it is for others.
4. Bariatric surgery is a way of avoiding lifestyle change
Bariatric surgery doesn’t succeed without lifestyle change. At Life Weight Loss Centre, we provide ongoing support to help you learn how to eat healthily and enjoy being physically active.
We know it’s not easy to change old habits and develop new ones. We believe you can do it, though, especially with the right help and support.
5. It’s a big expense
Weight loss surgery can help you achieve a healthy weight, reducing your risk of serious health issues and helping you engage in life more fully.
That’s a worthwhile investment. Health insurers think so too, which is why they often provide rebates towards the cost of your obesity surgery. If you don’t have health insurance, it may be possible to access your superannuation or to plan ahead by taking out a policy and serving the usual waiting period. That time can be used well to help you get into healthier habits and prepare for surgery.
Remember that there are costs to not helping yourself achieve a healthy weight. Weight-related illnesses such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes involve significant costs in both treatment and lost earning capacity.
6. You won’t keep the weight off in the long run
That’s more true of dieting than it is of bariatric surgery. You’re probably all too familiar with yo-yo dieting. You go to all the effort of dieting simply to regain the weight a little while later.
People do seem to have good long-term success in maintaining a healthy weight after bariatric surgery though. A Swedish study compared 2,000 obese people who had bariatric surgery with a control group who did not. Over the next 20 years, the surgical patients proved much more successful at managing their weight. They also lived longer lives with lower rates of cancer, stroke, heart attack and diabetes than their peers who did not have surgery.
7. You won’t be able to have kids afterwards
So, yes, you can plan to have kids after weight loss surgery. But not necessarily straight away. We usually advise women who’ve had bariatric surgery to wait a year or so before trying to conceive.
You need that time for your body and mind to adjust to life after weight loss surgery and to ensure you’re receiving enough nutrition to manage a pregnancy.
8. It means a liquid diet and no booze
Only for a little while.
Immediately after surgery, you’ll be on clear fluids then you’ll progress to pureed foods. After a few weeks, you can reintroduce soft foods then progress to solid foods.
As for alcohol, it’s best to avoid it for the first 6 months after your surgery. After that, you can drink again but beware that you may become tipsy more quickly and that alcohol is full of needless calories that undermine your goal of maintaining a healthy weight.
Just as you develop new eating habits after surgery, you’re also encouraged to develop new and healthier drinking habits.
9. It’s cosmetic surgery
Some people think weight loss surgery is all about gaining a lithe new figure. Even if that was all it was, there’s nothing wrong with caring about your appearance.
But the truth is that weight loss surgery is about so much more than looks. Weight loss surgery is really a medical treatment for people living with obesity. A trimmer figure is a by-product (but a nice one!).
10. You’ll end up with a vitamin deficiency
Maybe. You’ll eat less after surgery. Depending on the type of bariatric surgery you’ve had, your food may bypass some nutrient-absorbing parts of your body.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem, though. Supplements help overcome this. We also test your vitamin and nutrient levels after surgery to ensure you’re getting enough of what you need.
So, that’s the truth about bariatric surgery. If you’d like to learn more about how weight loss surgery could help you reach and maintain a healthy weight, then please call 1300 669 259.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion. Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks.