Bariatric surgery is a life-changing, often life-saving procedure for obese patients who have been unable to lose weight with traditional weight loss strategies. An estimated 228,000 people underwent a bariatric surgery procedure in 2017 (up from about 16,000 in 2005), according to the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.
Despite its growing popularity, there are still countless bariatric surgery misconceptions and myths associated with undergoing weight loss surgery. These misconceptions may prevent some patients from making a decision that will not only help them lose weight, but also improve their health and extend their lives. We aim to debunk these myths and uncover bariatric surgery facts, including the success rate of common bariatric surgery procedures such as gastric sleeve and gastric bypass.
Fact: While many people see bariatric surgery as taking “the easy way out,” the reality is that for many patients with obesity, weight loss surgery may be the only way they are able to achieve long-lasting, life-changing weight loss. Those who choose bariatric surgery have not failed. There are often biological factors at play that make some people with obesity resistant to weight loss and can prevent successful weight loss through traditional, non-surgical methods such as diet and exercise.
The fact about bariatric surgery is that it is not a “quick fix,” but rather a tool that, in conjunction with lifestyle changes, can help patients lose weight and improve their health. Success with weight loss surgery takes work, including sticking to a strict pre- and post-op diet.
Fact: As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks associated with weight loss surgery.These risks may include nausea, blood clots, gastric leak or wound infection.Even with the risks, the reality for many bariatric patients is that it is even riskier to continue to live with the health consequences of obesity.
Bariatric surgery can change the trajectory of one’s health, improving or eliminating common weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Bariatric patients may experience as much as an 89 percent reduction immortality after surgery. For example, death in association with diabetes is reduced by more than 90 percent after bariatric surgery, and death from heart disease is reduced by as much as 50 percent.
Fact: Yes, some patients do regain a small amount of weight (about five percent) in the years after weight loss surgery, but research supports the fact that bariatric surgery is generally a long-term solution for patients who are overweight or obese. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery,“successful” weight loss is considered weight loss equal to or greater than 50 percent of excess body weight. Although some patients do regain a small amount of weight, it pales in comparison to the yo-yo cycle of weight loss and regain that most patients have experienced in their non-surgical attempts to lose weight.
Patients who choose the gastric sleeve procedure can expect to lose up to 70 percent of excess weight, or about 25 to 35 percent of total body weight loss. (Excess weight is the difference between ideal weight and current weight.) Gastric bypass patients typically lose about 30 to 40 percent of excess body weight.
Fact: Insurance coverage for bariatric surgery varies from one provider to the next, but many insurance companies do offer coverage for weight loss surgery, assuming the patient meets the company’s requirements. Some of these requirements may include that the patient be over a certain BMI and/or have one or more weight-related health conditions. Many people don’t realize that Medicare and Medicaid often also provide coverage for bariatric surgery, particularly if it is determined to be medically necessary. For those patients whose insurance does not cover the procedure, most bariatric surgery clinics offer financing options for cash pay patients.
It’s normal to have questions about any medical procedure, but don’t let your questions or preconceived notions about bariatric surgery prevent you from making a potentially life-saving decision. If you have questions about bariatric surgery in Dallas, schedule a consultation with your bariatric surgeon in Dallas at First Baptist Medical Center. It’s normal to have weight loss surgery questions, but don’t let unanswered questions prevent you from making a life-changing decision.