5 misconceptions about bariatric surgery to treat obesity

Last updated: 2 May 2024
5 misconceptions about bariatric surgery to treat obesity

       There are several common questions and misconceptions surrounding stomach surgery for obesity often raised by patients or the general public. Here are some of them:

1. Surgery is only for individuals weighing 100 kilograms or more.

       This is inaccurate.

       Individuals eligible for surgery must meet specific criteria, typically based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared, or by using online calculators like the one provided at Mass Index Calculator-BMI/. Check whether your BMI falls within the established criteria below to determine eligibility for surgery.

       (1) Individuals with a BMI over 32.5 and associated health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, or sleep apnea may qualify for weight loss surgery.

       (2) Those with a BMI exceeding 37.5 and no underlying conditions may also be eligible for surgery.

       (3) If your body mass index (BMI) is greater than 28 and you have chronic conditions such as severe diabetes that cannot be controlled with medication (at the doctor's discretion), you may be advised to attempt various weight loss methods before considering weight loss surgery. If these attempts are unsuccessful, then consulting a doctor for weight loss surgery may be recommended.

2. Individuals with diabetes should avoid gastric surgery.

       This is partially accurate.

       If you're obese and struggling to control your diabetes despite efforts, gastric surgery may be an option. This surgery can lead to an impressive 83% improvement in diabetes. After surgery, many patients no longer need diabetes medication and experience significant weight loss.

       However, successful outcomes rely on managing blood sugar levels before surgery, aiming for an HbA1C level below 8. It's essential to note that gastric surgery isn't suitable for long-standing type 1 diabetes or individuals with diabetes and a very low body weight.

3. Bariatric surgery is a risky procedure with a high chance of death.

       This is mostly inaccurate.

       - Gastric surgery for obesity is now performed through small incisions in the abdomen, usually 3-6 depending on the method (Doctor Yoko use only 3 incisions)

       - It's a safe procedure that significantly lowers the risk of death from obesity-related diseases.

       - According to the ASMBS, the risk of death from this surgery is lower than that of gallbladder or hip replacement surgery.

4. I noticed that some individuals who underwent the procedure remained overweight.

       This is partially accurate.

       - Gastric surgery for obesity initiates significant and long-term weight loss by reducing food intake and hunger. After surgery, individuals gain better control over their eating habits, choosing foods based on preference rather than cravings.

       - However, sustaining weight loss requires effort, including making wise dietary choices and staying physically active. 

       - Avoiding high-calorie foods and focusing on protein-rich options is essential. This approach supports ongoing weight loss and aligns with post-surgery criteria.

       - The following weight reduction trend is observed in most patients:

       At the end of the 1st month, 10% decreased from initial weight.

       At the end of the 3rd month, 20% decreased from initial weight.

       At the end of the 6th month, 30% decreased from initial weight.

5. After surgery, you may need to take vitamins for life to prevent malnutrition.

       This is partially accurate.

       - Bariatric surgery offers various methods to combat obesity, with sleeve and bypass surgery being the standard options.

       - After sleeve surgery, around 20-25% of the stomach remains, minimizing the risk of malnutrition. Vitamin supplementation is necessary for only about a year post-surgery, with continued use based on individual needs.

       - In contrast, after bypass surgery, only 5-10% of the stomach remains, increasing the likelihood of nutrient deficiency. Lifelong vitamin supplementation and injections are essential for maintaining optimal health post-surgery.

I hope this article enhances everyone's understanding of bariatric surgery for obesity.


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