Blog

Blog

Friday Jul. 28, 2023
overweight woman sitting on her couch
Debunking Common Myths About Bariatric Surgery

9 Minute Read

Reviewed By: Dr. Alexander G. Parr


Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool in the battle against obesity, providing a lifeline for those who have struggled with weight loss through diet and exercise alone. Yet, despite its effectiveness, there are numerous misconceptions surrounding this procedure. From beliefs that it's an "easy way out" to concerns about its safety, these myths can often cloud the truth and create unnecessary fear or stigma. In this blog post, we aim to debunk some of the most common myths about bariatric surgery, providing clear, accurate information to help you make an informed decision about your health.

Myth #1: All weight loss surgeries are the same.

This is a common misconception, but the reality is that not all weight loss surgeries are the same. There are several types of bariatric surgery, each with its own techniques and potential outcomes. Here are just some of the types of procedures offered.

1. Sleeve Gastrectomy: Sleeve gastrectomy, also known as vertical sleeve gastrectomy, is a surgical weight-loss procedure. This procedure is typically performed laparoscopically and involves the removal of approximately 80% of the stomach, leaving a pouch about the size of a banana. The reduced stomach size allows patients to feel full after eating less and absorbs fewer minerals, contributing to weight loss.

2. Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass Surgery: This procedure is one of the most common types of bariatric surgery. The surgery involves creating a small pouch from the top of the stomach and connecting it directly to the small intestine. The smaller stomach pouch causes patients to feel full sooner, while the rerouted small intestine causes the body to absorb fewer calories.

3. Bariatric Re-operative Procedures: Bariatric re-operative procedures, also known as revisional bariatric surgery, are performed to repair or modify a previous weight loss surgery. These procedures are typically considered if a patient has experienced less-than-optimal weight loss, weight regain, or complications from the original procedure.

Remember, the type of procedure a person undergoes depends on their specific health conditions, lifestyle, and weight loss goals. Therefore, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider or a bariatric surgeon to determine the best option.

Myth #2: Weight loss surgery is a quick fix.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix and should never be seen as such. Although bariatric surgery can provide a wonderful opportunity for long-term weight loss, it is important to understand that this procedure requires dedication and commitment to achieve the desired results. 

Patients who undergo bariatric surgery must make lifestyle changes to maintain their weight loss over the long term. This includes changing their eating habits, exercising regularly, and making sure they get enough sleep. Additionally, patients must also commit to making regular doctor's appointments and follow-up visits with their health care provider or bariatric surgeon to ensure the best possible outcome.

Moreover, research has shown that patients who are most successful at maintaining their weight loss after bariatric surgery are those who have a strong support system of family and friends, receive mental health counseling, and work closely with a dietitian or nutritionist in developing a healthy diet plan tailored specifically to their needs.

In conclusion, while bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for success in weight loss management, it is important to remember that it is not a short-term solution but rather a lifelong journey requiring dedication and commitment from both doctors and patients alike.

Myth #3: Weight loss surgeries are risky.

Despite common misconceptions, the reality is that bariatric surgery is no more risky than any other major procedure. In fact, studies have shown that bariatric surgery is safer than any other type of procedure for treating obesity and its related conditions. With advances in medical technology, these surgeries now carry a very low risk of complications or even death.

Additionally, people who undergo bariatric surgery tend to experience fewer long-term health problems and an improved quality of life compared to those who do not have the surgery. For instance, studies have demonstrated a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke in those who had weight loss surgery. Furthermore, many patients also report a better mood, increased energy levels, improved mental health, and improved physical functioning after the procedure.

Overall, while it's important to be aware of the potential risks involved with any major operation, including bariatric surgery, it's equally important to remember that these operations are generally considered safe when performed by an experienced surgeon in a well-equipped facility.

Myth #4: Most insurance companies won't cover surgical weight loss.

Despite popular belief, most insurance companies do cover bariatric surgery. While coverage may vary from plan to plan, many insurance carriers now recognize the efficacy of this procedure and offer some form of coverage for it. Additionally, Medicare and Medicaid also provide coverage for certain types of weight loss surgery under certain criteria.

It's important to note that not all types of weight loss surgery are covered by insurance. Generally speaking, procedures that are considered medically necessary, such as those performed on individuals with a BMI over 30 or those suffering from obesity-related conditions, are more likely to be covered than those deemed cosmetic or elective. Furthermore, even if the procedure is deemed eligible for reimbursement, there may be other factors at play that can limit coverage, such as prior authorization requirements and out-of-pocket costs.

To ensure that your procedure is covered by your insurance provider, it is best to speak directly with them or with a bariatric surgeon who can provide more information about reimbursable options available in your area. Because every health plan is different, it’s important to be an informed advocate for your own health and coverage needs.

Myth #5: Bariatric surgery is all cosmetic.

This is one of the most prevalent myths about bariatric surgery, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are certainly those who may pursue the procedure for aesthetic reasons, this is not the case for most patients.

Bariatric surgery can provide a wide range of health benefits that go far beyond aesthetics. Research has found that people can experience improved control of diabetes and blood pressure, as well as increased mobility and energy levels, after undergoing bariatric surgery. Additionally, studies have shown that bariatric procedures can reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea in some individuals.

Furthermore, although many people believe that bariatric procedures are only suitable for those who are morbidly obese, the reality is that they can be beneficial for patients with mild to moderate obesity as well. This means that even those who do not meet the criteria for morbid obesity could benefit from the procedure and its associated health benefits.

Overall, while it is true that some may pursue bariatric surgery solely for cosmetic reasons, it should never be seen as such – it is a powerful tool in the battle against obesity and its related conditions, providing a multitude of long-term health benefits to those who make a commitment to their health journey after surgery.

Myth #6: Bariatric surgery is for people who have hundreds of pounds to lose.

This is not the case. While bariatric surgery can be a helpful tool in treating severe obesity, it is beneficial for those with mild to moderate obesity as well. Studies have shown that bariatric procedures are effective in helping individuals achieve and maintain weight loss regardless of BMI and can provide numerous health benefits even when significant weight loss is not achieved.

For instance, studies have demonstrated improved blood pressure and diabetes control after bariatric surgeries, as well as increased overall energy levels due to improved mobility. Furthermore, research has also found that patients who undergo this procedure report an improved quality of life and a better mood due to the positive effects on mental health associated with successful weight management.

Overall, while it may be true that bariatric surgery can be more beneficial for those with more severe cases of obesity, it should never be considered solely a weight-loss solution for those with hundreds of pounds to lose. This procedure offers numerous physical and psychological benefits regardless of how much weight a person has left to lose, making it an invaluable tool in managing obesity and its related conditions.

Myth #7: Most people will gain the weight back.

Overweight young woman jogging in the street.

This is a common misconception that should be dispelled immediately. The truth is that with proper dedication, lifestyle changes, and good nutrition habits, bariatric surgery can be an effective tool for long-term weight loss. Studies have demonstrated that when bariatric surgery patients follow their surgeon’s instructions and maintain regular follow-up visits with their doctor, they are more likely to sustain their weight loss over time. Additionally, research has found that many individuals who have undergone this procedure have been able to keep off the majority of the excess weight for as long as five years after surgery.

When it comes to sustaining long-term weight loss success, commitment to making necessary lifestyle changes is key. This means following a balanced diet and exercise plan tailored specifically to your needs, getting adequate sleep, managing stress levels, and seeking professional help or counseling if needed. Additionally, having a strong support system of family and friends can also increase success in maintaining weight management results after bariatric surgery.

In conclusion, while it's true that some people may eventually regain some of the lost weight due to a lack of adherence to dietary guidelines or other factors, bariatric surgery can provide significant long-term health benefits when performed in conjunction with lifestyle changes tailored specifically for each patient’s individual needs. 

Key Takeaways

Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool in the battle against obesity and its related conditions, providing significant health benefits beyond aesthetics. While it may not be suitable for everyone, those who are interested should speak to their doctor or bariatric surgeon about the potential options available to them. With proper dedication and commitment to making necessary lifestyle changes after the procedure, individuals can experience long-term weight loss success with this treatment option. If you’re considering bariatric surgery as part of your journey towards improved health and wellbeing, now is the time to take action. Talk to your doctor for more information on how you can benefit from this life-changing procedure!

Broward Health, providing service for more than 85 years, is a nationally recognized system in South Florida that offers world-class healthcare to all. The Broward Health system includes the statutory teaching hospital Broward Health Medical Center, Broward Health North, Broward Health Imperial Point, Broward Health Coral Springs, Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital, Broward Health Weston, Broward HealthPoint, Broward Health Physician Group, Broward Health Urgent Care, Broward Health International, and Broward Health Foundation. For more information, visit BrowardHealth.org.