There are plenty of myths and misconceptions around weight-loss surgery that can make the decision to have it shrouded in mystery and stigma.
Here are a few common misconceptions about weight-loss surgery and the truth about going under the knife to lose weight.
MYTH: There’s only one kind of weight-loss surgery.
There are many kinds of weight-loss surgery. According to Mayo Clinic, most bariatric surgery helps people lose weight by either restricting the amount of food they can eat or reducing the number of calories the body can absorb.
A few common types of weight-loss surgery are Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrectomy, and duodenal switch with biliopancreatic diversion.
Each patient’s situation is unique and only a physician can decide which procedure is best suited to an individual’s particular needs.
Weight loss surgery is a permanent solution to weight gain.
Weight-loss surgery isn’t a magic bullet. According to Mayo Clinic, returning to unhealthy eating habits after surgery can result in losing no weight at all or even gaining weight. In extreme causes, overeating after surgery can cause damage to the organs that were altered by the operation, such as the stomach.
Improperly eating after surgery can also result in something called “dumping syndrome,” where too much food enters the small intestine too quickly and causes symptoms like dizziness and vomiting.
MYTH: People who get weight-loss surgery are too lazy to lose weight normally.
Contrary to what some people may believe, people who opt for weight-loss surgery over a strict regimen of diet and exercise aren’t just lazy or lacking gin willpower.
“When someone is 20 or 30 pounds overweight, diet and exercise are prescribed and can work,” explained Alfonso Torquati, chief of metabolic and bariatric surgery at Rush University Medical Center. “But once you cross the threshold of being 50 or 60 pounds overweight, the failure rates for controlling weight with exercise and diet are close to 90%.”
Rather than being an easy way out, weight-loss surgery can help some patients make the extreme diet adjustments necessary to lose large amounts of weight.
MYTH: Weight-loss surgery is extremely dangerous.
Though there are always risks to going under the knife, most bariatric surgery isn’t as dangerous as remaining severely overweight. According to Baptist Health, the risks of living with morbid obesity – including the increased likelihood of developing cancer, heart disease, and diabetes – are much higher than those of even advanced and invasive weight loss surgery. Recent innovations in treatment methods also mean that many weight loss surgeries require shorter recovery times and are less invasive than in the past.
In fact, the risks for bariatric surgery are usually comparable to those for gallbladder surgery, according to Cleveland Clinic
MYTH: Recovery from weight-loss surgery is a long and slow process.
According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) most people who have undergone weight-loss surgery are able to head back to work in one or two weeks. Though many patients report having low energy for a period after the surgery, most are well enough after a couple weeks to resume their usual routines.
MYTH: If you get weight-loss surgery, you’ll no longer be able to eat enough to gain weight.
Most people who have had weight loss surgery experience an extremely reduced appetite for six to 18 months following the operation, according to the ASMBS. Some forms of surgery actually reduce the size of the stomach, preventing it from holding large amounts of food at once.
However, it is possible for people who have undergone bariatric surgery to eat too much and cause weight gain, especially if they become accustomed to eating many small meals throughout the day. It’s important to stick to the eating plan recommended by your doctor or nutritionist in order to be successful after surgery.
MYTH: If you eat large meals after getting weight-loss surgery, your stomach won’t stretch out.
Though it is true that the entire stomach can stretch after surgery to accommodate more food if the patient overeats, the real stretching actually occurs at the opening of the bottom of the stomach or pouch.
According to Mercy Health, this allows food to empty out of the stomach more rapidly than normal and allows the individual to continue eating. If the individual doesn’t control their food intake, this stretching can lead to weight gain.
MYTH: Most people who lose weight through weight-loss surgery eventually gain all the weight back.
Though the ASMBS does recognise that as many as 50% of weight-loss surgery patients do gain a small amount of weight back after their procedure, most patients do maintain weight loss after surgery. Furthermore, though patients may not always lose the full amount of their excess body weight, many report a perceived improvement in their quality of life tied to losing even part of their pre-surgery weight.
MYTH: Reducing the size of your stomach means you won’t be able to take in enough nutrients.
A common misconception is that shrinking the size of someone’s stomach through weight-loss surgery means that they will be malnourished for the rest of their lives.
According to Mercy Health, this is mostly incorrect. Though patients who have had certain weight loss surgeries do experience a decreased ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, this is easily remedied by taking daily supplements. Furthermore, following a balanced post-surgery diet and planning meals usually means an individual’s overall health is actually much improved after a successful weight-loss operation.
MYTH: Insurance never covers weight loss surgery.
According to Mercy Health, insurance coverage for bariatric surgery varies by state and provider. However, if your doctor has recommended weight loss surgery, many insurance companies will, in fact, cover the full or partial cost of the procedure. Some providers distinguish between surgeries meant to treat obesity and those intended to remedy morbid obesity, with many plans only covering for treatment for morbid obesity.
Be sure to talk to your health-care provider and your insurance provider for more info.
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