Weight-loss surgery: myths and realities
Weight loss surgery is in the news almost daily and with it comes the myths and realities of weight loss surgery as well as the benefits. You may hear everything from glowing reports of saved lives to horror stories about surgeries gone wrong. No doubt you know people who have had the surgery or you know someone who knows someone who has had the surgery and with that comes miscommunications and sometimes data that is not exactly accurate or is incorrectly attributed to one procedure rather than another. Here are some myths about weight loss surgery that you may have heard. Hopefully this will disspell some of those myths and set the record straight.
Bariatric Surgery is very expensive.
It is not cheap, but with weight loss, the full return of your cost is expected in 5 years by reducing expenses on medications, disability, hospital care and other health care related issues, not to mention that an improvement in your quality of life is hard to put a price on.
Lap-Band® is the only Band approved for use in United States
Two gastric bands are approved for use in United States: Lap-Band® (Allergan) and Realize® (Johnson & Johnson). Multiple studies in Europe and in the United States did not find any difference between these 2 bands in terms of success rate and complications. Both are equally effective in inducing significant weight loss and are considered safe.
People who are very obese cannot have Gastric Band surgery.
It is another myth that patients who are what is called “super obese” which is a BMI over 50 are better served by the gastric bypass. While this may be the case in some patients it is important to know that Gastric banding can be extremely effective with patients who have a BMI over 50. At this time, we would recommend the Gastric Sleeve because it is more maintenance free, provides similar weight loss to bypass while having less long term complications.
With bariatric surgery, weight loss can be rapid and unhealthy.
The average weight loss after bariatric surgery is 2-4 pounds a week in the first few months, this slows as you have less weight to lose. This weight loss rate usually does not cause any adverse effects, however, nutritional and vitamin supplements will be recommended by us.
You can only have a liquid diet.
Most surgeons require a liquid diet for a short time after surgery, sometimes 1-2 weeks in order to allow for healing after the operation. It may be necessary for some patients to be on a liquid diet for a short time prior to surgery to allow for shrinkage of the liver which makes the operation easier. Patients are eating normal food after the healing time has passed, which is usually 2 weeks.
Patients after weight loss surgery have a lower quality of life.
Many studies have been performed and show that patients after weight loss surgery have had an increased quality of life due to their ease of mobility following weight loss and their reduced illnesses like sleep apnea, diabetes and hypertension. Only minority of patients (3-5%) have issues related to indigestion, usually mild in nature.
Bariatric surgery is extremely dangerous.
Although potential complications such as pneumonia, blood clots and even death are real concerns, a number of recent advances have helped to minimize risks and these complications are very rare. In addition, having the procedure may assist patients in overcoming otherwise life-threatening conditions associated with obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sleep apnea.