Common Misunderstandings and Misconceptions Before Bariatric Surgery

woman sitting on floor behind floor scale and measuring tape on floor

The effects and results of bariatric surgery are a complex interplay of physical and psychological factors that help patients lose a significant amount of weight. But every patient is different, as are their motivations and abilities. As such, all patients are unique, and predicting results beyond the generalities is challenging, if not impossible. With that, many patients come into their consultation (sometimes even leaving it) with misconceptions and misunderstandings that should be fully understood before surgery. This article will discuss those and how we ensure patients understand the truth about their procedure.

I Can Lose Enough Weight With Weight Loss Medications

For some, this may be true, but many patients have been misled into thinking that weight loss medications are the be-all and end-all of long-term weight loss. Weight loss medications like Wegovy, Mounjaro/Zepbound, and others that are soon to be approved have revolutionized the weight loss industry – but only for those with relatively lower levels of obesity. In other words, these drugs can help you lose 20% of your body weight, but this may not be enough if you are extremely obese. Typically, we look at the cut-off for weight loss medications at around 40 to 45 BMI, after which they are unlikely to offer sufficient weight loss to eliminate comorbidities.

Averages Are Just Averages

When data is published on expected weight loss, it is often lower than patients expect. For example, averages show that patients may lose between 60 and 75% of their excess body weight with the gastric sleeve. But this is simply an average of all patients who have had a gastric sleeve in the study. This does not count for individual circumstances. For example, some patients have lost 100% of their excess body weight. So much of what you achieve is up to you. Remember that the surgery is just a tool, and your willingness and ability to succeed make the difference.

It Will Be Steady Weight Loss for the Next Couple of Years

Despite discussing this with our patients, many are often surprised when they begin to plateau throughout the weight loss process. Long-term sustained weight loss requires a good diet and exercise program that keeps you interested and excited. Plateauing along the way is normal and requires some tweaks to ensure your body doesn’t have time to adapt before you hit your goals. For example, if you’re always doing the same exercise or always eating the same foods, you may not lose as much weight as if you vary it up and keep your body working different muscles and digesting a wide range of foods.

Any Weight Gain Is a Problem

We often have panicked patients discussing some weight gain after they have maintained their weight loss goals for months or even years. While gaining a bit of weight after such a fantastic achievement can be scary, it’s unlikely to be a problem unless it is rapid, uncontrolled, or excessive. Remember that you will liberalize your diet and exercise regimen over time. Everyone does it. So, it’s likely that you will regain five or so percent of the weight you lost over time. Issues to watch out for are yo-yo weight loss and significant and rapid weight regain. These may require a visit to your bariatric surgeon to understand the cause and implement a fix. Remember…snacking is the number one cause of weight regain.

Relationships Will Only Get Better

This is a tricky one and ultimately revolves around what you consider to be a better relationship. Patients who lose significant weight regain confidence and social comfort in most cases. That often gives them and those around them a great deal of joy. However, these changes can also create some consternation amongst friends and loved ones, even spouses, who are worried they will be left behind. They want the old you versus the new, more confident you. Many of these issues are resolved with time and a bit of counseling, but occasionally, there are irreconcilable differences. This may result in a fractured relationship, and while it may be for the better, it’s uncomfortable for a time. Remember that this is your journey, and you must prioritize your needs.

The Bottom Line

The months and years after bariatric surgery represent an unbelievable change in you as a person, both mentally and physically. You must understand the nuances of your postoperative life to know what to expect and ensure you are ready for the future. Contact us with any questions about postoperative life or what to expect. We are here to help you make the most of this process, get healthy, and improve your life in every way possible.