Ten Bariatric Surgery Myths and Truths

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Bariatric surgery, also known as weight loss surgery, has many misunderstandings and myths. Though it can bring life changing results for individuals, misconceptions can result in unrealistic expectations. In this article we aim to dispel the 10 myths surrounding surgery to offer clarity and understanding of Bariatric Surgery.


1. "Bariatric Surgery is the Easy Way Out"

A common myth suggests that bariatric surgery provides an effortless fix to obesity. In reality though the journey is far from simple. Individuals must undergo surgery assessments, take on significant lifestyle modifications (long-term!) and take on the challenges of post operative recovery. It serves as a catalyst rather than a magical fix demanding effort and commitment to sustain the new physique.


2. "You'll Take Less Tablets as Your Conditions Improve"

While patients may experience enhancements in obesity related conditions like type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure leading to reduced medication intake, there is an increased need for nutritional supplements post-surgery, for life. Individuals often require multivitamins along with calcium and vitamin D plus iron and vitamin B12 injections. These supplements are to prevent deficiencies resulting from changes to digestion and absorption. An antacid may also be needed short or long-term.


3."It offers a Reliable Solution, for Long term Weight Management"

Surgery isn't a quick fix. While weight loss is typical in the first couple of years, sustaining weight loss involves maintaining new healthy eating habits plus regular exercise and a new mindset shift. Weight regain is possible if someone reverts to old eating patterns or becomes sedentary. Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet.


4. "Surgery Poses More Risks Than Staying Obese"

Every surgical intervention comes with its risks. The dangers of staying obese often surpass those linked to surgery. Conditions related to obesity like heart disease, diabetes and specific cancers can significantly reduce life expectancy. Bariatric surgery frequently helps mitigate these risks by facilitating weight loss and enhancing well-being.


5. "You Won't Have the Freedom to Eat Whatever You Want Forever"

Following the surgery your diet will undergo changes during the initial recovery period. Nevertheless, as time goes on, you should be able to adopt the ‘everything in moderation’ approach as you sustain your new weight. The key lies in prioritising high nutrient dense foods to meet your body's needs and indulging in ‘treat foods’ i.e. foods higher in fat and sugar sensibly. NB Some foods such as fizzy drinks (and using straws), tough meats, doughy bread and high sugar products such as sweets may need to be avoided life-long to prevent discomfort, sickness and dumping syndrome.


6. "Bariatric Surgery Can Lead to Malnutrition"

Although there is a risk of nutritional deficiencies, they can be prevented and managed through supplementation and regular follow up appointments i.e. yearly blood tests. Patients receive guidance on maintaining a rounded diet and are closely monitored by their healthcare providers to ensure they are absorbing an adequate amount of essential nutrients.


7. "Only Those, with Severe Obesity Qualify"

Eligibility for surgery is not solely determined by weight. Candidates must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or higher or a BMI of 35 or higher with obesity related health issues. It is also considered for individuals who have struggled to achieve weight loss through methods like diet and exercise in the past 6 months.


8. "Surgeries Impact on Pregnancy"

Women of childbearing age can safely conceive after undergoing surgery. But are recommended to wait 18 to 24 months post-surgery before conceiving. 


9. "Reversibility of the Surgery is a Possibility"

Not all procedures can be easily reversed. While certain surgeries like the band can be adjusted others such as the sleeve or gastric bypass involve permanent alterations to the stomach and digestive system.


10. “You will Lose Hair Post Surgery”

One concern often raised is the potential for hair loss following surgery which may be attributed to the stress of the procedure and rapid weight shedding typically occurring 3 to 6 months after the operation. Fortunately, this hair loss is usually temporary with regular hair growth resuming as the body adapts. Maintaining a diet in protein and supplementing with vitamins can aid in minimising this side effect.


To sum up, bariatric surgery serves as a tool for weight management. Enhancing overall health though it should not be viewed as a quick fix solution. Individuals need to be committed to making adjustments to their diet, physical exercise and ongoing medical monitoring. 


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