Bariatric surgery can be a life-saving procedure for many patients. Each year, more and more patients turn to weight loss surgery to help them lose weight and improve their health. But the decision to have surgery is never easy, and certain questions and misconceptions about weight loss surgery may hold some patients back from making a life-changing decision.
Here are five of the most common myths about bariatric surgery, and the facts about them from your experienced weight loss surgeon in Dallas.
Fact: People who have lived with obesity for many years actually become resistant to weight loss. In other words, there are biological factors at play that prevent many bariatric patients from losing weight by traditional, non-surgical methods. For these patients, bariatric surgery may be the only option to help them lose weight and improve their weight-related health conditions.
Additionally, bariatric surgery is not an overnight “quick fix,” but rather a tool patients can use in conjunction with lifestyle changes to lose weight and maintain long-term weight loss. Bariatric surgery patients must submit to a rigorous pre- and post-op diet and stick to a healthy, reduced calorie diet for life. They must also make a commitment to regular exercise. Without these healthy habits, weight loss surgery isn’t nearly as effective.
Fact: While about half of all weight loss surgery patients do regain a small amount of weight (about 5 percent) in the years following weight loss surgery, studies have shown that the majority of bariatric surgery patients are able to maintain long-term weight loss. According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), “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 weight regain most patients experience in their non-surgical attempts to lose weight.
Fact: Many severely obese individual suffer from depression and/or anxiety, low self-esteem and low quality of life. For most bariatric patients, losing weight with surgery results in improved psychological well-being. A small percentage of patients may suffer from undiagnosed, preexisting mental health disorders that may lead to thoughts of suicide. There are some studies that show a small increase in suicide following bariatric surgery. For this reason, all bariatric surgery patients are required to undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation prior to surgery, and many bariatric programs include patient access to psychological counseling and support groups before and after surgery.
Fact: The heavier the individual is, the more risk that patient has of life-threatening health complications and even death from obesity. Without weight loss, these individuals are at a greater risk of dying from a weight-related health condition such as type 2 diabetes or hypertension. Bariatric patients may experience as much as an 89 percent reduction in mortality 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. The mortality risk of surgery itself is also extremely low — about 0.13 percent, or one in 1,000 patients. The risk of weight loss surgery is shown to be lower than other operations, such as gallbladder surgery and hip replacement.
Fact: While insurance coverage for bariatric surgery varies from one provider to the next, many insurance companies do offer coverage for weight loss surgery, assuming the patient meets the company’s requirements, such as being over a certain BMI and/or having one or more weight-related health conditions. Medicare also offers coverage to approved patients for some bariatric procedures.
If you are considering bariatric surgery and have more questions, schedule a consultation with your weight loss 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.