Weight Loss (Bariatric) Surgery Mtyhs And Facts

By Dr Deep Goel, FACS (USA), FRCS (England), Director, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology, Bariatric & Minimal Access Surgery.

MYTH: Bariatric surgery is the "easy way out."

Bariatric surgery makes life "easy" rather than it being easy way out. Successfully losing weight and keeping it off for long term requires lifestyle, dietary modifications and importantly desire and commitment to lose weight. Also it is advisable to attend educational classes and support groups for lifelong healthy habits and behaviours.

MYTH: Bariatric Surgery has high risks.

Weight loss surgery was considered a risky surgery in 70’s due to lack of technologies, large incision, inexperience staff and reduced follow ups. All of these factors have changed markedly. Today, weight loss surgery is performed very safely with low risks in the hands of experienced surgeons, advanced laparoscopic technologies and experienced staff with regular follow ups. It’s risk is not more than the other performed surgeries like uterus removal etc.

MYTH: One has to be over 100 kilograms to qualify for bariatric surgery.

Selection criteria for weight loss surgery depends on the Body Mass Index (BMI), it is a mathematical formula which is calculated by dividing weight(kg) by height(m2) and presence of co - morbidities (like diabetes mellitus, blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, poly cystic ovary syndrome, joint pains, etc.

For Indian population, to qualify for bariatric surgery, BMI of 35kg/m2 without any co morbidity or 32.5 kg/m2 with co-morbidities is required. Recent studies have shown that individuals with lower BMI (as low as 30kg/m2) with uncontrolled diabetes have been benefited from bariatric surgery. Each individual is assessed based on specific health problem, their longitivity and body mass index calculation.

MYTH: Only fit people will qualify for bariatric surgery

Mostly people undergoing weight loss surgery have health problems related to obesity. Some of these individuals have mild forms of the conditions and other people have more severe forms of the conditions. Each person is assessed by an experienced bariatric surgeon to assess fitness for surgery

MYTH: One has to stay for long in hospital after bariatric surgery

With advancement in technologies, hospital stay is maximum of 2 days. Some people go back to their work after 4th or 5th day of surgery.

Physical activity like walking, climbing stairs and light stretching exercises are allowed from 2nd day of surgery.

MYTH: One has to be on strict diet plan for lifelong after bariatric surgery.

Individuals have to be on 2 weeks of liquid diet, followed by soft diet and then normal diet after bariatric surgery. One has to be definitely on monitored diet for initial few months but they have variety of food choices to choose from. Maintaining weight loss should be the priority, so one should be careful about what you eat. Bariatric procedures can be failed by eating high calorie liquid diet or alcohol intake.

MYTH: One has to be a certain age to have weight loss surgery.

Normally bariatric surgery can be done for patients aged 18-70 yrs. But in exceptional circumstances 8-9 years old children have been operated for weight loss surgery.

MYTH: Bariatric surgery will only make you lose weight.

Bariatric surgery is the only permanent weight loss solution which will not only make you look good by losing weight but also it is the only solutions for complicated co-morbidities. Studies have proved that after bariatric surgery patients are off from their medications for hypertension, diabetes mellitus, sleep apnea, infertility, dislipidemia, osteoarthritis Also bariatric surgery has proved results in increased fertility in women. Morbidly obese women who have failed repeated IVF’s had successful pregnancies after bariatric surgery.

MYTH: The patient will have a large incision and a big scar after bariatric surgery.

Now a day’s bariatric surgery is performed with minimally - invasive surgery (laparoscopy gastric bypass surgery or robotics). This normally requires five small punctures on the abdomen. The scars faint with time and will eventually not visible.