Bariatric surgery gets a bad rap. And it makes sense.
Tell your friends or family members that you are considering bariatric surgery and you usually get a response like this; ‘You don’t need surgery. You’re not that fat. You can do it the natural way.’
Your friends and family members care about you. But they are scared, misinformed and sometimes even a tad bit jealous. They aren’t trying to make you feel bad. But they’ve heard stories.
Some patients do regain weight years after bariatric surgery. In those cases, it’s typically not the surgery that failed, but instead the patient or bariatric program that failed. Failure (inadequate weight loss) typically happens for two reasons:
- Lack of pre and post-operative education and support – the bariatric program’s fault if these weren’t offered.
- Lack of implementation – the patient never changed their lifestyle by not taking advantage of the education and support offered.
The scary bariatric surgery stories that you hear are shared because they’re ‘share-worthy.’ And while some stories may be true or have a kernel of truth, the data (the clinical studies) tells us that those are the exceptions.
Bariatric surgery is a life changing procedure that is the opposite of easy. It is hard, it is abrupt, and it is major surgery. And, as pointed out, if you don’t change your lifestyle, there is a chance you will fail weight loss.
WHAT IS THE POINT OF BARIATRIC SURGERY?
So what then, is the point of surgery if you have to change your lifestyle anyway? Couldn’t you do that without surgery?
Bariatric surgery forces a reduction in calories or minimizes the absorption of calories or both (depending on the type of surgery).
Procedures that are restrictive in nature (your stomach size is reduced) allow patients to feel full after a small amount of food. This forces patients to eat less.
Procedures that are malapsortive create a smaller intestinal tract for the body to absorb calories. This forces lower calorie absorption.
And in some procedures, ghrelin production (the ‘hunger hormone’) is reduced leading to a reduction of hunger.
Most bariatric procedures also create a feeling of nausea after consuming foods high in carbohydrates or sugar. This ‘helps’ many patients choose nutrient dense foods that are low in sugar and low in simple carbohydrates.
Bariatric surgery forces patients to re-learn how to eat. It forces patients to choose better foods. It forces patients to think about how much and when they eat.
Bariatric surgery patients are able to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time.
Bariatric surgery creates such a drastic physical change that the weight loss itself becomes a strong motivator to continue to lose more and keep it off.