Weight-loss surgery, or bariatric surgery, can bring life-changing benefits to your health and give you back the ability to do many of the things you love. There are different types of bariatric surgery, and they work by making your stomach smaller, so you feel full after eating less food.
But you might be apprehensive about the procedure because of things you’ve heard over the years. We talked to Samuel Saltz, DO, a bariatric surgeon with Banner Health Center in Fort Collins, CO, and he dispelled some of the myths you may have come across about weight-loss surgery.
Myth 1. I should be able to lose weight with diet and exercise.
Fact. For some people, metabolic syndrome, also known as insulin resistance syndrome, and a slow metabolism can make weight loss difficult, even with good dietary choices and activity levels. If diet and exercise haven’t worked for you, weight-loss surgery might be a better choice.
Myth 2. Weight-loss surgery means I’m taking the easy way out.
Fact. Bariatric surgery works for a lot of people, but it isn’t easy. There’s a three- to six-month lead time before surgery where you focus on nutrition and exercise. During this time, you also meet with a behavioral health expert and your surgeon. After surgery, you’ll most likely stay in the hospital for two to five days and recover at home for another week or so. And for the first year, you’ll see your primary care doctor and bariatric team frequently to ensure you’re staying on track. To succeed, you need to make adjustments and develop habits, so you lose weight and keep it off long term.
Myth 3. My insurance won’t pay for weight-loss surgery.
Fact. Almost all insurance plans cover bariatric surgery, and it’s covered under Medicaid. If your plan doesn’t specifically cover weight-loss surgery, you can often contact your insurance company to find out how to get the care you need.
Myth 4. Weight-loss surgery is dangerous.
Fact. All surgical procedures come with some level of risk. But bariatric surgery is as safe as knee replacement surgery or gallbladder removal. And people canoften reverse diabetes, lower their risk of heart disease, eliminate sleep apnea and reduce joint pain with weight-loss surgery.
Myth 5. I’ll gain the weight back after bariatric surgery.
Fact. It’s always possible to regain weight. But when you learn good practices through a comprehensive weight-loss surgery program, you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off for good.
Myth 6. I won’t be able to become pregnant if I have weight-loss surgery.
Fact. Bariatric surgery has the opposite effect on your fertility. When you lose fat, you improve your likelihood of becoming pregnant. And once pregnant, maintaining a healthy weight is important to avoiding potential complications like preeclampsia, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
Myth 7. I’ll never be able to eat regular food again.
Fact: Right after bariatric surgery, you’ll need to adjust your diet. You’ll want to focus on protein to help you heal, so you’ll start out eating things like chicken, fish, yogurt, cottage cheese and beans. And at first, your portion size will be about a quarter-cup. But over time, you can return to eating normal, healthy foods in larger portions, such as tougher cuts of meat, vegetables, some carbohydrates and nuts. But it’s best to steer clear of refined carbohydrates and added sugars, since they can slow down your weight loss.
Myth 8. Bariatric surgery is a cosmetic procedure.
Fact. Weight-loss surgery isn’t about how you look. It’s about improving your health and your quality of life. In many cases, bariatric surgery can add seven to 10 years to your lifespan.
The bottom line
Believing outdated or inaccurate myths about weight-loss surgery can make you hesitant about taking this step to improve your health. Weight-loss surgery is as safe as many other common surgical procedures and can extend your lifespan by up to 10 years.