There are many misconceptions about bariatric surgery due to a lack of information and understanding. With the help of our Bariatric & Metabolic Institute at Arkansas Heart Hospital team, we have addressed three common weight loss surgery misconceptions and explained why there are incorrect.
With diet and exercise, surgery is unnecessary
For some suffering with obesity and chronic health conditions, a healthy diet and exercise may not be enough to help them achieve long-lasting weight loss and reverse life-threatening conditions. This does not mean they are lazy or lack willpower. It means their body will not allow them to overcome the genetic, biological, metabolic, behavioral, social, economic and cultural factors stacked against them.
“Many in society, including even some in the healthcare profession, have the misconception that when someone struggles with their weight it’s because they eat poorly and are inactive,” said Courtney Sutterfield, bariatric dietitian. “Some of this is from reality shows that showcase obesity as food addiction. Some patients have a much slower metabolism and are very efficient at storing carbs as fat. It is also a genetic disease.”
At the Bariatric & Metabolic Institute, gastric bypass surgery and gastric sleeve surgery are a options for those who have tried and failed to lose weight through traditional ways. However, these may not be beneficial for everyone. That is why our patients must meet certain medical guidelines and undergo a screening process to qualify for surgery.
Surgery is extremely dangerous
While bariatric surgery – just like all surgeries – has risks, it is not as dangerous as some may think. Laparoscopic, minimally invasive techniques have reduced bariatric surgery risks significantly.
“The procedure has progressed to the point that bariatric surgery is incredibly safe,” Dr. Samuel Bledsoe, bariatric and general surgeon, said. “The mortality rate for bariatric surgery ranges from .05 to .5 percent. That makes bariatric surgery as safe as gall bladder surgery.”
According to Dr. Bledsoe, living with weight-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, high cholesterol and hypertension, is more dangerous and deadly than bariatric surgery.
“Staying where you are is also risky,” Bledsoe said. “In fact, it’s riskier to be morbidly obese with diabetes and high blood pressure than it is to have bariatric surgery.”
In fact, surgery can reverse these comorbidities and even cure type 2 diabetes.
“If you’re taking insulin or other medications to treat diabetes when you come into the hospital for surgery, more than likely you will be off those medications when you leave,” Dr. J.D. Fuller, bariatric surgeon, said. “We see other benefits as well; cholesterol gets better, high blood pressure gets better, sleep apnea tends to get better, mobility gets better, energy levels improve, and patients are able to exercise and get back to work and feel like they’re living life again.”
Surgery is the easy way out
Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is not a quick fix – it’s just one piece of the weight loss journey. Undergoing a major procedure that changes the way your body handles food is certainly not the easy way out.
“I think one of the most common stigmas associated with bariatric surgery is that it is an easy fix. That is false,” said Stephanie Thrash, BMI clinic coordinator. “Bariatric surgery takes commitment and is a total lifestyle change. It takes hard work and dedication.”
To experience lasting weight loss success, bariatric surgery patients must maintain a healthy diet and exercise for the rest of their lives. It’s also necessary for some patients to maintain relationships with a dietitian, therapist, exercise physiologist and surgeon.
The Bariatric & Metabolic Institute makes the weight loss journey easier with access to an army of medical professionals for the rest of a patient’s life.
“We offer a more personalized education approach because we want to make sure each one of our patients succeed long term,” said Shanna Porterfield, dietitian. “We do not just herd people through the program, we make sure patients are ready to tackle the lifestyle change.”
Bariatric surgery is a major decision, and our surgeons are ready to discuss the safest and most effective option for you. Visit bmi.arheart.com to learn if you qualify for bariatric surgery and if it’s covered by your insurance. Also, watch our on-demand, no-commitment informational online seminar.