Myths and Misconceptions
“Severe Obesity is primarily the result of self-indulgence or a lack of willpower or self-discipline.”
While there are behavioral aspects involved, Severe Obesity is primarily a complex, multifactorial disease of metabolism (the chemical processes that occur within the body to maintain life). The genetic and hormonal factors that contribute to the origination of Severe Obesity have nothing to do with willpower or self-discipline.
“No matter what your weight is, you can lose a significant amount of weight through dieting if you just try hard enough.”
“Gastric Bypass is high-risk surgery. I’m afraid I won’t wake up from the operation.”
“Gastric Bypass is a drastic, permanent, irreversible change to my stomach and intestine that I’m not sure I’m comfortable with.”
Think of it this way: within the complex combination of factors that led to and perpetuate your Severe Obesity, the current arrangement of your stomach and upper intestine is not serving you well. You have a serious, chronic, progressive, lifelong disease that requires a permanent lifelong solution. Moreover, Gastric Bypass is, in fact, reversible, but to reverse the effective treatment of Severe Obesity would be as unwarranted as reversing the effective treatment of any other disease.
“The gastric band is advantageous because it is adjustable and reversible.”
The gastric band MUST be adjusted in order to work, which requires monthly visits to our office during the first year after surgery. Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy begin working immediately without requiring “adjustments”. The goal of bariatric surgery is to provide a weight loss tool that will be effective for life. Therefore, the only reason to reverse (remove) a gastric band (which eventually occurs in 15-25% of band patients) is because of a complication of the band, often followed by weight regain necessitating revision to a Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy.
“Gradual weight loss (such as occurs after gastric band) is safer or more beneficial to long-term success than rapid weight loss (that occurs after Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy).”
This is simply not true. Not only is the more rapid weight loss that accompanies Gastric Bypass or Sleeve Gastrectomy not detrimental to health, it actually benefits your health by causing earlier resolution of your comorbid conditions. The rapidity of the weight loss has no effect on the likelihood of maintaining a healthy weight once it is achieved.
“I am reluctant to have a gastric bypass because I knew of someone who experienced a serious complication after gastric bypass.”
Complications are possible with any surgery, from tonsillectomy to transplant. Knowing that someone had a complication after a gallbladder removal or hip replacement would not likely cause you to avoid these operations if you needed them. Similarly, the fact that infrequent complications can occur with gastric bypass should not cause you to avoid having this operation that can so dramatically improve your weight, health, and the quality of your life. The fact is, laparoscopic gastric bypass is very safe.
“I know of someone who had bariatric surgery, then regained their weight.”
Bariatric surgery works because it is an effective tool to help you take in less food and thereby lose weight. However, at any time after surgery, if you do not continue to follow the proper eating habits (which we will teach you) or take in unnecessary calories, you will essentially “defeat” the operation and regain weight.
“I know of someone who had a gastric bypass, but regained weight because the stomach pouch stretched.”
Because of the way I construct the stomach pouch, the portion of the stomach wall capable of the greatest degree of stretching is excluded from the pouch. Therefore, the pouch (which is about the size of an egg) is not capable of significant stretching.
“People tell me that by having bariatric surgery, I’m taking the 'easy way out'”
To put it bluntly, this is absurd. It’s like saying heart surgery is the easy way out of treating blocked coronary arteries. It simply represents a failure to understand or acknowledge the fact that Severe Obesity is a disease for which surgery is the most effective treatment. For those with Severe Obesity, there is no easy or “cheating” way to lose weight. On the contrary, the lifestyle changes that must occur are anything but easy. If someone ever says this to you, your reply can be, “I have the disease of Severe Obesity, and instead of remaining a victim of it, I’m going to beat it.”
“After gastric bypass, I will live a life of constant temptation and deprivation, unable to eat the foods I love.”
Both Gastric Bypass and Sleeve Gastrectomy are followed by a “honeymoon” period of reduction in hunger with maintenance of satiety (the feeling of satisfaction after eating) causing weight loss and helping to enable patients to adopt the proper eating habits to maintain a healthy weight. Patients can continue to eat many of the foods they love, just not as much of them.
“There has got to be another way (other than surgery) that will enable me to lose weight on my own.”
By the time most of those struggling with obesity have come to our website, they have already experienced the failures of non-surgical treatments and have come to the realization that they cannot reach their goals on their own, which is actually the normal, expected situation. Then, after achieving success with bariatric surgery, it is common for them to say, “My only regret is that I waited so long.”
“You can lose a lot of weight by just exercising more.”
Even sustained exercise (which is usually not possible for those with Severe Obesity) alone does not produce a sufficient calorie deficit to result in significant weight loss. Significant weight loss can only occur with a significant reduction in calorie intake. However, exercise is very important in helping to keep the weight off once you have lost it after bariatric surgery.
“Bariatric surgery is nothing more than cosmetic surgery.”
Severe Obesity is not a cosmetic issue. It is a medical disease. Therefore, bariatric surgery is not primarily about achieving a thinner appearance, but about restoring health. Bariatric surgery is health surgery.
“Do not let misinformation about Bariatric Surgery rob you of another year of good health.” – Dr. Sprunger