For those of you who don’t know, I currently work as a dietitian for a bariatric surgeon here in Dallas. There are several myths or stereotypes surrounding bariatric surgery but today I want to talk about 4 specific stereotypes for those of you who may not know anything about the process or procedures.
- Not all surgeries are created equal
At the office I work at we typically offer three different types of bariatric surgery.
The sleeve is a procedure in which the surgeon makes your stomach smaller and removes about 3/4th of the stomach from your body. This procedure lowers the amount of food that you can consume. This procedure is not reversible.
The gastric bypass is a procedure where the surgeon makes your stomach smaller and he/she attach it farther down your small intestine so that you do not absorb all of the nutrients from the food that you eat. With this procedure you have the smaller stomach and the malabsorption. This procedure is reversible.
The duodenal switch is the most “intense” procedure. In this procedure the stomach is made smaller and the intestines are rerouted to form two different channels that eventually meet back up. One channel carries the food and the other channel carries the pancreatic enzymes and bile from the liver. This procedure is reversible.
Each surgery has different success rates and works better for different situations. Surgery options are discussed with the surgeon on your first consultation. The surgeon will tell you what he or she thinks is best for you, but I encourage you to read up on each procedure and educate yourself as much as you can before your appointment.
- Weight loss surgery is NOT the “easy way out”
So many people think that weight loss surgery is for “lazy” people who just want a quick easy fix. The entire surgery process is by no means a quick easy fix. Most patients have to go through 3-6 months of diet visits with myself. Patients also have to change several lifestyle habits. Surgery is a very helpful tool, but patients still have to work hard to be successful. Not to mention the patients have to be on a liquid diet for ~3 weeks and a soft food/pureed diet for another 3 weeks.
- Weight loss surgery is a life changing event
Can you imagine never being able to eat more than 1 cup of food at a time? What about taking multivitamins, calcium supplements, iron supplements, b12 supplements and vitamin D3 supplements DAILY? Can you imagine having to track your protein and make sure you are getting the recommended amount of protein each day? What about not drinking fluids with your meals? These are things each bariatric patient is recommended to do following surgery.
Another aspect of bariatric surgery is how it can change your relationship with food and even your relationship with your family.
- Weight loss surgery is a medical necessity for some people
People who are obese usually have other health conditions that are life threatening. Such health conditions include sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Losing the excess weight can help to resolve those health conditions. If these surgeries were not a medical necessity for people then insurance companies would not pay for these procedures, but they do!
I hope this helped you to have a little bit more of an understanding about bariatric surgery. Please comment below if you have any other questions and I will do my best to answer them!