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Weight Loss (Bariatric) Surgery Myths And Facts

By Dr Deep Goel, FACS (USA), FRCS (England), Director, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Bariatric & Minimal Access Surgery.

By Dr Deep Goel, FACS (USA), FRCS (England), Director, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Bariatric & Minimal Access Surgery.

MYTH: Bariatric Surgery Is The "Easy Way Out.

Bariatric surgery and weight loss makes life "easy" rather than an easy way out. Successfully losing weight and keeping it off for the long term requires lifestyle, dietary modifications and, importantly, desire and commitment to lose weight. Also, it is advisable to attend educational classes and support groups for lifelong healthy habits and behaviours.

MYTH: Bariatric Surgery Has High Risks.

Weight loss surgery was considered a risky surgery in the 70's due to lack of technologies, large incisions, inexperienced staff and reduced follow-ups. All of these factors have changed markedly. Today, weight loss surgery is performed very safely with low risks in the hands of experienced surgeons, advanced laparoscopic technologies and experienced staff with regular follow-ups. Its danger is not more than the other performed surgeries like uterus removal.

MYTH: One Has To Be Over 100 Kilograms To Qualify For Bariatric Surgery.

Selection criteria for bariatric surgery and weight loss depend on the Body Mass Index (BMI), it is a mathematical formula that is calculated by dividing weight(kg) by height(m2) and presence of comorbidities (like diabetes mellitus, blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, polycystic ovary syndrome, joint pains, etc.
For the Indian population, to qualify for bariatric surgery, a BMI of 35kg/m2 without any comorbidity or 32.5 kg/m2 with comorbidities is required. Recent studies have shown that individuals with lower BMI (as low as 30kg/m2) with uncontrolled diabetes have benefited from bariatric surgery. Each individual is assessed based on a specific health problem, longevity, and body mass index calculation.

MYTH: Only Fit People Will Qualify For Bariatric Surgery

Mainly people undergoing bariatric surgery and weight loss have health problems related to obesity. Some of these individuals have mild forms of the conditions, and others have more severe ones. An experienced bariatric surgeon assesses each person to assess fitness for surgery
MYTH: One Has To Stay For Long In Hospital After Bariatric Surgery
With advancements in technologies, the hospital stay is a maximum of 2 days. Some people go back to work after the 4th or 5th day of surgery.
Physical activity like walking, climbing stairs and light stretching exercises are allowed from the 2nd day of surgery.

MYTH: One Has To Be On A Strict Diet Plan For Lifelong After Bariatric Surgery.

Individuals must be on two weeks of liquid diets, followed by a soft diet and then a regular diet after bariatric surgery. One has to be definitely on a monitored diet for the initial few months, but they have a variety of food choices. Maintaining weight loss should be the priority, so one should be careful about eating. Bariatric procedures can be failed by eating a high-calorie liquid diet or alcohol intake.

MYTH: One Has To Be A Certain Age To Have Weight Loss Surgery.

Typically bariatric surgery can be done for patients aged 18-70 yrs. But in exceptional circumstances, 8-9 years old children have been operated on for weight loss surgery.

MYTH: Bariatric Surgery Will Only Make You Lose Weight.

Bariatric surgery is the only permanent weight loss solution that will make you look good by losing weight and is the only solution for complicated comorbidities. Studies have proved that patients are off from their medications for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, infertility, dyslipidemia, osteoarthritis after bariatric surgery. Also, bariatric surgery and weight loss has proved to result in increased fertility in women. Morbidly obese women who have failed repeated IVF's had successful pregnancies after bariatric surgery.

MYTH: The Patient Will Have A Large Incision And A Big Scar After Bariatric Surgery.

Nowadays, bariatric surgery is performed with minimally invasive surgery (laparoscopy, gastric bypass surgery or robotics). This requires typically five small punctures on the abdomen, and the scars faint with time and will eventually not be visible.