No matter how hard you try to lose weight, you might still struggle with obesity. It’s not you. It’s obesity — a disease that makes your body want to hold on to weight.
For decades, weight-loss (or bariatric) surgery has been an effective way to overcome obesity and related medical conditions like high blood pressure and infertility. Many people qualify for this procedure, but many never consider it. Why? Common weight-loss surgery myths are partly to blame.
To sort myth from fact, we turned to an expert. Alexandra Zubowicz, MD, FACS, FASMBS, oversees the UVA Health bariatric surgery program in Northern Virginia. A board-certified weight-loss surgeon, she’s part of a team serving patients in Haymarket, Warrenton, and throughout the region.
Myth 1. No One Really Needs Surgery to Lose Weight
Many people believe the myth that someone just needs to exercise more and properly diet to lose weight. But obesity is a disease that makes losing weight difficult to do on your own, no matter how hard you try.
“Overcoming obesity often takes medical intervention. For many people, weight-loss surgery is truly the only option to help them finally get rid of the unwanted weight that is taking a serious toll on their health,” Zubowicz says.
Myth 2. You’ll Gain Back All the Weight After Weight-Loss Surgery
Patients who had weight-loss surgery are actually more likely to keep the weight off than those who have lost weight through traditional diet and exercise. How do we know? Many studies show this.
After weight-loss surgery, most people lose weight for about two years. After that time, it’s true that many people start to regain some of their lost weight. But very few people regain all of it.
Myth 3. Weight-Loss Surgery Is Too Dangerous
As with any surgery, you’ll have a small chance of experiencing a complication such as an infection. Studies have shown that the risk for bariatric surgery is about the same as a routine gall bladder surgery.
And the fact is weight-loss surgery is often a lifesaving procedure.
If you have type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, weight-loss surgery can help lower your risk for:
- Heart attack
Myth 4. Type of Weight-Loss Surgery Doesn’t Matter
Every type of weight-loss procedure is designed to reduce the amount of food your body can take in. These procedures use different methods to do this. Some completely bypass your stomach, while others shrink or reshape it.
Each weight-loss surgery option is not right for every person.
“No two people or bodies are the same. We consider many factors to make sure we offer the best surgery option for each patient,” Zubowicz says.
For example, she notes, a gastric bypass procedure is the best option based on the medical needs of someone who has diabetes.
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Don’t let weight-loss surgery myths keep you from overcoming obesity.
Myth 5. It Takes a Long Time to Recover from Weight-Loss Surgery
After weight-loss surgery, you’ll likely only need to stay in the hospital for 1 or 2 nights. You may even qualify for a type of weight-loss surgery that’s done as an outpatient procedure.
You’ll need to eat a liquid diet to give your digestive system a chance to adapt. But about 2 weeks after bariatric surgery, you can start eating regular solid foods.
It’s important to know that weight-loss surgery is not a quick fix. You’ll need to change the way you eat and make sure you get the right nutrients. But you’ll have support from a dietitian and other experts to help you make these changes. They’ll set you up to become the next person to overcome obesity.