Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Common Misconceptions About Weight Loss Surgery

Following the Channel 7 News piece, someone posted a comment about how weight loss surgery is not a panacea for obesity and that non-surgical methods should be tried first. People who have had weight loss surgery can also fail. This person is absolutely correct in these statements.

One thing that wasn't covered in the under 2 minute clip on Channel 7 News were the specifics of the evaluation process when considering bariatric surgery. The program at NSMC, as well as many insurance companies, require a diet history be provided that shows repeated attempts to lose weight through non-surgical means. I can't speak for all bariatric surgery programs, but in my experience talking with other weight loss surgery patients, showing this kind of history, and the failed attempts at maintaining weight loss long-term, is a given in meeting the criteria for having weight loss surgery. Anyone reading my blog will know that I have no misconceptions about, nor do I ever present weight loss surgery, as a cure-all for obesity. If the lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, are not maintained post-operatively, regain is common.

So then a person might ask "well then why even have weight loss surgery if you still have to do all the same things you'd have to do without it?" For me, it was because everything else I had done, I had failed at. I was actually quite terrified about failing even with weight loss surgery. But, what the tool of my surgery has helped me to learn is when to stop eating. I had a bottomless hunger before surgery. With my pouch, I do NOT have that...I have very clear, physically palpable limits set on what I can eat. I could exceed those on a regular basis and defeat my tool. I could eat the wrong foods and defeat my tool. I did not make the decision to have surgery lightly or without having exhausted every other non-surgical means of weight loss available to me first. A competent medical team, like the one I have at NSMC, would not in good conscience consider performing surgery on a person without them showing those other efforts to have failed first.


Rick Allemandi said...

Hi Amy - The key is to think of it as a tool, that will help you get there. You are doing a great job of working that tool. :-)

HOA Mgr Lady said...

That was a great piece. To the uneducated that was an excellent 1st piece to view in my opinion. There is so much more that goes into the surgery and the process but so is there for heart surgery and not alot of know about that either. I think you were an excellent representative of the surgery verbalized clearly and conscisely. Thank you for representing US.

SuzFinnerty said...

Hey there.. I agree.. I have thought hard about this decision... I have researched... researched ... and researhed some more!! I have prayed.. talked to friends .. talked to others.... great piece! THank you

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Mason said...

Hi Amy,

I receive the same comment frequently from friends and acquaintances -- why bother with WLS if you have to do all the same things anyway. Even though I'm only 11 weeks post-RNY, I have seen a profound difference in my outlook toward food and eating in general. What the surgery is doing for me -- other than serving as a tool for weight loss -- is forcing me to make very, very different choices or suffer the consequences. By that I mean more than just slowed weight loss or regain -- I mean dumping syndrome from eating something too sweet or too fatty, nausea from eating too quickly, etc. One doesn't have to experience these unpleasant side effects more than once or twice to get the message -- change and change now. That, even moreso than the weight loss, has been the difference maker for me.