As you start to explore weight loss surgery, you may come across some information that is incorrect or some uninformed people giving you their negative opinion about surgery. I’m ready to bust those bariatric 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 myths.
Bariatric Myth #1: WLS 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. 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.
You don’t have to be 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 Lap Band puts a small band around the stomach and can be removed at any time. A gastric balloon is another WLS procedure where a balloon is placed in your stomach and removed six months later. Stay focused on your decision to get surgery and ignore people who say you aren’t overweight enough to get surgery.
Bariatric Myth #2: Bariatric Patients Just Need to Diet and Exercise
Truth: 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. 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, and some might want a more rapid, but permanent solution to their weight problems.
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.
Bariatric Myth #3: WLS Patients Lack Willpower and Self Discipline
Truth: The process before bariatric surgery is sometimes grueling. In the U.S., many preop programs are three or six months, and 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. In fact, it’s incredibly hard to pass on the cheese fries and eat healthy proteins and vegetables instead.
Bariatric patients have a strict eating schedule post surgery, including a pureed/baby 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 will power 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 Myth #4: Most Bariatric Patients Become Alcoholics
Truth: While the possibility for transfer addiction is possible, a HealthDay Report indicated that 21 percent of bariatric patients later become alcoholics. They also indicated that many of these cases had issues with alcohol prior to 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: All your old emotional crutches (food) are 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 fat prior to surgery.
During your preop 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 carbs turns 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 issues.
Bariatric 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 same thing before I started my weight loss 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 an emotional crutch (food), and it’s even harder. It is possible though!
This bariatric myth probably fires up bariatric patients the most. We worked hard and put 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 forms 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.
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! 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 myth that really bothers you, email me and let me know! You can reach me at email@example.com!
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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.