We’ve all heard the weight loss platitudes that people use off-handedly and constantly: “Calories in, calories out.” “Eat less, exercise more.” “Motivation is key!”
Those that don’t suffer from obesity don’t always understand how little value these phrases offer or how they further stigmatize weight loss surgery. This knowledge barrier around obesity and weight loss keeps many people from getting the care they need.
“One reason the AMA has labeled obesity as a disease is to ‘reduce the stigma of obesity that stems from the widespread perception that it is simply a result of eating too much or exercising too little,’” writes Matthew Metz, MD, for Obesity Help.
Weight loss surgery carries many similar, harmful stigmas that can only be helped by minimizing the current knowledge gap. In order to move past weight loss surgery misconceptions, we need to educate ourselves and others on its many benefits, and the journey it requires to get back on the road to health.
One misconception is the belief that weight loss surgery is the easy way out. Here’s why that’s entirely untrue:
It’s a journey
Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or something done carelessly. It takes a lot of work, preparation, and commitment. Before surgery, patients must prep their bodies and minds for the major transformation ahead. A lot of research, planning and adjusting is required to lay a solid foundation to fall back on post-op. After surgery, patients aren’t magically fixed. Each patient will have to undergo many lifestyle changes, including changing their relationship to food, adjusting eating habits and ramping up their exercise routine.
Surgery is a safe option
Not treating obesity in the long-term can be more dangerous than weight loss surgery. “Individuals suffering from morbid obesity are 85% more likely to die over any 5-year period than weight loss surgery patients… Weight loss surgery has a 99.9% survival rate,” according to Bariatric Surgery Source. Weight loss surgery can also help so many medical ailments, obesity related or not, like sleep apnea, heart disease or joint pain.
There is no guarantee
Even with all the right prep and a steady support system in place, doctors can’t guarantee that patients will keep the weight off for the rest of their lives. It is up to the patients to stick to their diet and exercise routines and stay within their new lifestyle changes. Some patients plateau or have setbacks, and it is up to them to stick to their goals and find the motivation. Ultimately, weight loss surgery is not a cure-all but, rather, a great tool used to get back on the road to overall health.
It also helps to have a “navigator,” like Sharon Hillgartner at Texas Health Flower Mound. Find out more about Sharon here.
Considering weight loss surgery? See if you’re a candidate here.