As you start to explore bariatric surgery, you may come across some information that is incorrect. Some uninformed people may give you their negative opinions about surgery. I’m ready to bust those bariatric surgery myths and drop some truth bombs! I’ve heard so many of these phrases as I went through my journey, so I am sure you will too. People will say things like weight loss surgery is only for the severely, morbidly obese, and bariatric patients lack willpower. They’ve never tried diet and exercise, and most become alcoholics. And the granddaddy of them all – weight loss surgery is the easy way out. Well strap in and get ready, because I’m about to blow up these bariatric surgery myths.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #1: Bariatric Surgery is Only for the Severely Obese
Truth: Weight loss surgery is not just for people who can’t get out of bed because of their weight. This bariatric surgery myth is the one many people think about when they consider the morbidly obese. I was considered super morbidly obese at 428 pounds, but I was not confined to my bed.
Typically, a BMI over 40 with no co-morbidities or a BMI of 35 with co-morbidities will qualify you for bariatric surgery. Always check with your insurance company and surgeon for their specific requirements. Co-morbidities are conditions like high blood pressure, type II diabetes, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease or painful joints due to excess weight. For a 5’6″ woman, a BMI of 35 is around 215 pounds, and a BMI of 40 is around 250 pounds. Many companies are advocating to lower the BMI requirement for bariatric surgery to 30, as those individuals also feel the negative effects of obesity.
You don’t have to be over 400 pounds like I was to consider surgery. There are also less invasive types of weight loss surgery that don’t involve reducing the size of the stomach. A gastric band puts a small band around the stomach and can be removed at any time. A gastric balloon is another bariatric procedure where a balloon is placed in your stomach and removed six months later. For more information on the five most popular types of weight loss surgery, check out this post I wrote. Stay focused on your decision to get surgery and ignore people who say you aren’t overweight enough to get surgery.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #2: Bariatric Patients Just Need to Diet and Exercise
Truth: Take cover because I’m about to drop a truth bomb on this bariatric surgery myth. Bariatric patients have tried every diet and exercise program in the book. They’ve given it their all with some popular, and not so popular, diet programs. Many obese people have probably even put themselves in danger just to lose a little weight. Everything from Atkins to Weight Watchers, bariatric patients are no strangers to diet and exercise. They probably have more exercise equipment at home than most people. They do not enter lightly into the decision to get surgery. They’ve repeatedly tried to lose weight and either can’t lose the weight due to medical
Surgery is a last resort. It is a major risk and personal choice. Patients have tried traditional diet, exercise and tons of fad diets. It doesn’t work for everyone. Even if it does, their excess weight is slowly killing them every day. Some might want a more rapid, but permanent solution to their weight problems.
Addressing Mental Health Issues
The beauty of bariatric surgery is you usually have to go through a psychological evaluation during your pre-op testing. This visit helps determine your reasons for over-eating and how to address those issues in the future. For some people, losing weight isn’t as simple as diet and exercise. Bariatric surgery is a great option for those people. The National Institute of Health states that bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment for obesity.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #3: Bariatric Patients Lack Willpower and Self Discipline
Truth: The process before bariatric surgery is grueling. In the United States, many bariatric surgery programs are three or six months. During that time you have numerous tests and appointments. At the same time, you are also dealing with life: work, family, a house to run, laundry, dishes, friends and everything else unexpected that life throws at you. To stay focused and lose any necessary weight before surgery is no easy feat. It takes immense willpower and self-discipline to work on yourself while dealing with so many other things in life.
Bariatric patients are some of the most self-disciplined and willful people I’ve met. Imagine how much strength it takes to sit at a holiday meal or restaurant, and pass on the delicious carbs and sugar-laden food. It’s incredibly hard to pass on the cheese fries when your mind is telling you how much you want them. Instead, though, you eat healthy proteins and vegetables because you know that’s what your body needs. You made the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight. And yes, that sometimes means passing on foods you once loved.
The Food Stages after Bariatric Surgery
Bariatric patients have a strict eating schedule post-surgery, including a pureed food stage. Do you know what it’s like to be a grown woman eating baby food at a family gathering? I do, and so do hundreds, if not, thousands, of bariatric patients. It takes incredible willpower to eat baby food and pass on the burgers, chips and cake when food has been your crutch for so long. The long process and dedication needed for bariatric surgery, and the lifestyle changes required afterward necessitates willpower and self-discipline.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #4: Most Bariatric Patients Become Alcoholics
Truth: While the possibility for transfer addiction is possible, a HealthDay Report indicated that only 21 percent of bariatric patients later become alcoholics. Boom. We just debunked another bariatric surgery myth. They also indicated that many of these cases had issues with alcohol before surgery. With smaller stomachs, alcohol tends to go straight to your small intestines and affects you quicker than before surgery. It seems you get drunk quicker, but also sober quicker. I can see the allure: your old emotional crutch (food) is gone, and you just want to be comforted again. It’s why it’s so important that you deal with the emotional issues that made you obese before surgery.
During your pre-op nutrition education, it is likely your doctor recommended against alcohol. Not only can you get drunk quicker, but it can also slow or reverse your weight loss. Remember that the carbs in alcohol turn to sugar, and our new bodies have a harder time processing sugar. It could cause dumping syndrome too. Overall, it’s important to deal with your emotional response to situations. Enjoy new coping mechanisms like exercise, therapy, chatting with a friend, writing, reading, singing, dancing or whatever makes you feel good. Alcohol shouldn’t be a problem if you’re working on your mental health issues.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #5: Weight Loss Surgery is the Easy Way Out
Truth: There is nothing easy about weight loss surgery. Having gone through it while also dealing with a divorce, move and job loss, I can say with confidence that none of it is easy. However, I was probably one of those people who said this bariatric surgery myth before I started my weight loss surgery journey. Do not listen to these people! Bariatric surgery requires a lifelong commitment and a desire to change your habits. There is nothing easy about it! Add in losing your emotional crutch (food), and it’s even harder. It is possible though!
RELATED CONTENT: Want to learn the 10 changes you need to make in your life to be successful with bariatric surgery? Get our free download here!
This bariatric surgery myth probably fires up bariatric patients the most. We worked hard and put literal blood, sweat and tears into our weight loss. We still have to eat right and exercise to lose and maintain weight. Now, we just have a tool to help us with it, just like some people use tools in the form of shakes, pills or a point system. The only difference is our tool has a higher overall success rate for lasting weight loss. Ignore the haters when pursuing weight loss surgery and trust the process.
Bariatric Surgery Myth #6: Bariatric Patients Never Have to Diet or Exercise Again
Truth: If you’re thinking about getting bariatric surgery because you are tired of dieting and exercising, you’re in for a rude awakening. This bariatric surgery myth is not true. To be successful with weight loss surgery, you have to change your lifestyle. While you won’t diet in the traditional sense anymore, you will have to follow a bariatric lifestyle for life. This means that you’ll eat mostly protein and vegetables, and fewer carbohydrates and sweets. It means you’ll mostly avoid sugar and drink more water. Being a bariatric patient requires you to exercise to help tighten your loose skin, give you energy and even deal with your emotional issues.
Bariatric patients can’t just eat whatever they want. They can’t be lazy and not move. If they ignore the bariatric healthy eating and exercise needs after surgery, they could be on a fast track to weight regain. An online article on Live Well Magazine states that bariatric surgery is just a tool. A healthy diet and exercise are essential for long-term success. Being a bariatric patient means you enter a new phase of life full of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Some More Truth Bombs
While there is a lot of information on weight loss surgery out there, some of it just isn’t true. A BMI of just 35 with comorbidities or being just 50 pounds overweight can qualify you for surgery. Bariatric patients tried every diet and exercise plan out there with little or no success. They are also some of the most willful and self-disciplined people I’ve ever met. Alcoholism doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re dealing with the problems that caused you to be overweight in the first place.
And, most of all, it isn’t the easy way out! It’s a tough, grueling process. It wears you out mentally and physically, but the reward you get is so worth it! You’ll still have to eat a healthy diet and exercise after surgery, but it’s all part of the lifestyle changes required to be successful after bariatric surgery. Keep the faith, trust the process, and believe in yourself! If I can do it, so can you!
If you need help, some encouragement, or have a bariatric surgery myth that bothers you, email me and let me know! You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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No. Typically, a BMI over 40 with no co-morbidities or a BMI of 35 with co-morbidities will qualify you for bariatric surgery. For a 5’6″ woman, a BMI of 35 is around 215 pounds, and a BMI of 40 is around 250 pounds.
They have already, in a million different ways. It just doesn’t work. They need a more permanent solution to their weight problems.
No! Bariatric surgery is a huge commitment, and those patients who have made it to the other side are strong, willful and confident.
It’s possible, but if you handle the issues that caused your obesity in the first place, alcohol abuse shouldn’t be an issue post-op. If you’re unsure, speak to a therapist.
Absolutely not. There’s nothing easy about having your body surgically altered to help you lose weight.
You should consider bariatric surgery if you have tried traditional dieting and exercising with no lasting results. Your BMI needs to be at least 35 with one comorbidity or 40 with no comorbidity. You should consider bariatric surgery when you are ready to commit to the lifestyle changes necessary to be successful.