Are you tired of hearing that you just need “more willpower” to lose weight, and that if you just exercised more and ate less, you’d lose weight, though you’ve done that for years? Perhaps you’ve heard (or thought yourself) that weight loss surgery is “the easy way out,” as if that makes it something bad. The fact is, weight loss surgery can be a viable option for people who are morbidly obese and have exhausted other options for losing weight. Medical studies are revealing more and more often that genetics, metabolic state, and a history of yo-yo dieting can all affect a person’s ability to lose weight the “old fashioned way” (through diet and exercise). What steps should you take in order to determine if weight loss surgery is an option to regain health?
1. Understand that weight loss surgery is a TOOL for weight loss, and not a miracle fix. It is incredibly important that if you’re thinking about taking the surgical route, you need to understand that you must follow dietary guidelines, which can be strict, for the rest of your life. An exercise program is also going to be necessary to maintain weight loss and become healthy after surgery. This is not an “easy way out,” but can be a valuable tool in regaining health and vitality if you’re willing to work hard in conjunction with the surgical procedure.
2. Examine whether or not you are emotionally ready to change eating and exercise habits to coincide with having weight loss surgery. The time to delve into why you are obese (whether due to emotional eating, childhood trauma, or other issues) is before surgery, not afterward. Post-surgery studies have shown that up to 30% of people who have had weight loss surgery will re-gain at least 50% of the weight after 18 to 24 months. In some cases this might be due to recurring health issues, but often it is because the patient has not had adequate psychological preparation for surgery.
3. Evaluate the risks. As with all surgical procedures, weight loss surgery carries risks that increase as the size of the patient increases. At present, less than 1% of weight loss surgery patients die from surgery, and within that 1%, most deaths are with patients on the “super morbid” end of the obesity scale. Depending on the type of surgery, patients can also experience complications such as intestinal strictures, stomach erosion, or bowel obstructions. While most patients experience minimal or no complications, there are still risk factors to be aware of.
4. Research weight loss surgery by studying online, talking with your primary care physician, and having a consultation with a reputable weight loss surgeon. There are several types of surgeries available for help with weight loss, including Roux en Y Gastric Bypass, Duodenal Switch, Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy and Lapband surgeries. Study them all and make a decision as to which one would be the right fit for you. Keep in mind that some (or all) types of weight loss surgery might not be covered by your insurance plan, so this must be researched as well. If you choose to have weight loss surgery, your chosen surgeon’s office can help you with the ins and outs of insurance approval.
Having weight loss surgery is never an easy way out, but it can certainly make things easier for the obese person who has exhausted other options to regain health and achieve a normal body weight.