8 Myths About Weight Loss Surgery

Kirsty at RealSelf on 19 Mar 2014 at 4:00pm

Weight loss surgery, such as gastric bypass, Lap Band or sleeve gastrectomy is becoming ever more popular as more and more Americans are reported to be in the obese category. This type of surgery is often an individual's last chance at regaining control of their bodies and eating habits after years of weight gain and yo-yo dieting. However, so many people go into weight loss surgery with little knowledge, or they have the misconception that surgery alone will fix everything.

Here is a list of myths about weight loss surgery:

1) Weight loss surgery is a "cure."

Having weight loss surgery is a tool in a long journey to a healthier, fitter and thinner you. Even before you have the surgery, the hard work begins with exercise regimes, losing some pre-surgery weight and changing your diet. All this must continue post-surgery; however, you then have to add more diet requirements and restrictions, more exercise and changing your eating/buying/cooking habits.

2) It's impossible to gain weight after having a gastric bypass.

As mentioned earlier, weight loss surgery is a tool. If you abuse that tool by eating the wrong foods and not exercising then the likelihood is that you will continue to gain weight. "A patient that gains weight over time after surgery is related to the same nutritionally bad habits that originally led to significant weight gain pre-surgery," says Dr. Ricardo M. Bonner, a Houston bariatric surgeon. "Therefore it is important in the immediate post-operative period to develop a good game plan and establish healthy eating habits that will carry you for the rest of your life."

3) You have to be 300lbs to qualify for weight-loss surgery.

There are guidelines for weight-loss surgery, set by the NIH (National Institutes of Health). However, it's not just based on weight alone but on what other medical conditions you also have, such as diabetes. The NIH recognizes anyone with a BMI equal to or greater than 30 as "obese." If your BMI is less than 30 you are unlikely to be approved for weight loss surgery. However, as each individual's case differs, you must always consult with your doctor.

4) You can only have a liquid diet after weight loss surgery.

This is not true. However, it is true that you will be on a liquid diet for a short period of time. Before you have weight loss surgery your doctor will put you on a liquid diet for approximately two weeks. This allows your liver to shrink and makes the surgery easier to undertake. You will then be on a liquid diet for approximately 1-2 weeks post-surgery and then transitioned onto a regular solid food diet.

5) You will be left with a big scar after weight loss surgery.

A few decades ago this may have been true, due to the type of surgery that was performed. However, the majority of weight loss surgeries are now carried out laparoscopically, meaning you will be left with a very small mark. "Lap Band, gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are performed via a laparoscopic technique," says Dr. Ricardo M. Bonner, a Houston bariatric surgeon. "The laparoscopic technique is a minimally invasive way that a surgeon can perform complex procedures that used to require the conventional large incisions."

6) If you have weight loss surgery you cannot get pregnant.

It is possible to have children after weight loss surgery. However, most doctors will advise you to wait 1-2 years before trying to get pregnant. This is because you need to wait until you have lost a large proportion of what you wanted to lose and your weight loss has stabilized. After weight loss surgery your hormones will be changing and your body will be nutritionally depleted until you stabilize your daily vitamin intake. This is because the operation inhibits the absorption of vitamins and minerals. All of these things can affect getting pregnant and are the main reasons why your doctor will advise you to wait.

7) All weight loss patients will have "dumping syndrome."

Dumping syndrome, although common after weight loss surgery, is not experienced by everyone. Some people don't "dump" at all, some occasionally and some extensively. "Dumping syndrome is commonly caused by the rapid entry of undigested food products from the stomach into the small bowel where your body is not prepared for the concentration and rushes to dilute it by "dumping" fluid and electrolytes rapidly into the contents of the intestines," says Dr Otto Joseph Placik, a Chicago plastic surgeon. "Avoiding excessively fatty foods, or high sugar simple carbohydrate meals in small portions, may help to ease the symptoms."

8) Insurance will not cover my weight loss surgery.

Insurance companies use the NIH (National Institutes of Health) guidelines when considering whether or not to support weight loss surgery. However, it is not all based on weight alone. If you have other risk factors that your obesity is causing, adding to or affecting, it may be possible to use this as supporting evidence for your insurance claim. "I did not have any risk factors to get the surgery but I pressed my breast cancer as a reason and the insurance company okayed it," commented Myselfagain in her gastric bypass review. Every insurance company works to different guidelines, so you should always check with your insurance company first. In the United Kingdom and Canada it may also be possible to get this surgery through the National Health System.
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