You are bound to get some interesting comments when you mention weight loss surgery in social settings with people unfamiliar with the specifics of bariatric surgery. Most people have an opinion about bariatric surgery. Here are five of my favorite over-simplified myths.

You will gain the weight back.

This myth typically begins with, “I have a coworker whose sister has a friend who lost 200 pounds from bariatric and gained it all back in two years.”

It is true that this can happen. It is however a rare exception. Numerous studies mention an average 20% weight gain at the fifth year post-op. I have been in the bariatric community for six years and find this statistic pretty much matches the reality of my peeps.

Weight regain is a complex beast. Many factors enter into the formula. As time passes and the comfort with bariatric surgery increases, so does the knowledge and ability to eat around and defeat the surgery. The best weapon to fight regain is adherence to bariatric eating principles.

You can’t eat the food you like.

This myth is rooted in an obsession with counting protein and repetitious over-dependence on protein bars and shakes by many bariatric post-ops.

The weight loss surgery post-op diet is designed to provide proper nutrition while consuming smaller portions. Protein factors heavily into this diet. My advice is to eat lean protein rich food at every meal and the protein takes care of itself. Supplement this with natural (unprocessed) foods and plenty of vegetables and fruit. Be mindful of sugar and fat intake.

You can eat what you like in moderation while respecting bariatric guidelines. Portion size may be less than you like. Any diet that forbids the dieter from eating any particular food generally pushes the dieter to that food. Be vigilant of your diet when you walk on the wild side.

It’s just a surgery.

Marketing by bariatric care centers is quite effective in painting a picture of a happier person after bariatric surgery.  It seems like a simple solution: get weight loss surgery and lose hundreds of pounds.

Success after bariatric surgery is dependent on change. Surgery helps the pounds go away. The patient must change many years of unhealthy habits to keep the pounds off.  The post-op must take a more responsible and active role in maintaining good health. This becomes a lifelong commitment to change.

You will be much happier person.

Often people find themselves at their bariatric surgeon’s door unhappy with failing to maintain a healthy weight and diet. Surgery seems like the ideal fix. Weight goes away and dieting becomes a thing of the past. Life should be good.

This myth neglects the complexity of the human being. Seldom is one of our weaknesses related to a single cause. Obesity can attribute to unhappiness. Losing weight usually makes the person happier. It does not guarantee that all the issues surrounding our happiness will go away.

If you know your unhappiness involves complex issues, it is best to address them with a counselor. Sometimes we can wipe our problems away. Other times we need to ask others for help. The journey to happiness can be long with different happy endings for each of us.

You will be a healthier person.

It is big news today. America is becoming increasingly obese. Obesity is a leading contributor to death. It seems logical to assume that if obesity goes away you become a healthier person.

This myth neglects the complexity of the human body. It is not as simple as labeling an obese person an unhealthy person. Weight factors heavily into many health conditions but generally cannot be cited as the sole contributor to bad health.You can dramatically reduce your chance of succumbing to many health conditions by reducing your weight.

Bariatric surgery cannot guarantee that all health issues will go away. Awareness of health conditions, their cause, prevention and relationship to obesity needs to be managed after bariatric surgery.

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