Is Bariatric Surgery Right for Me?
Last week, we gave you some factual information about the basics involved with bariatric surgery. For example, what bariatric surgery is, how it works, how effective it is, some of the risks, and who qualifies. If that blog post piqued your interest some more, that’s awesome! You may want to stay tuned for another riveting discussion today!
If you’re recognizing that you may be a potential surgical candidate and meet the eligibility criteria for surgery, we want you to consider a few other factors. After all, being eligible for surgery still doesn’t necessarily make it the best option for everyone. So…how do you know if bariatric surgery is right for you?
Top Points to Consider When Thinking About Having Bariatric Surgery:
Obesity is a Chronic Disease
Just like other chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and kidney disease, obesity is a medical condition that becomes progressively harder to treat over time. It requires long-term management efforts with effective and sustainable treatment options. If you have health challenges that you think could be improved by losing weight, have a strong family history of obesity, or are trying to prevent the development of other medical issues that may be associated with carrying extra weight, bariatric surgery may be an option for you.
Past History of Weight Cycling
Consider the following questions:
Do you have a history of frequent dieting?
Have you lost weight in the past and struggled to keep it off?
Has weight loss become harder with every new attempt you make?
Have you noticed that weight loss often leads to regaining that amount (and then some)?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, you may be stuck in a weight cycling pattern due to yo-yo dieting. Why do you think all of these patterns repeat themselves? Hint, Hint: It’s all about that darn set point, AGAIN!!
As we’ve just discussed in the segment above, obesity is a chronic disease that requires long-term management. Bariatric surgery can be viewed as one additional tool in your toolbox to help fight your body’s attempt at rebounding its weight back towards its set point (or highest sustained weight). This can help your body break out of a weight cycling pattern.
Is Bariatric Surgery the “Easy Way Out”?
Some people feel that surgery is somehow “cheating”, or that it removes the “responsibility” or “effort” that is somehow supposed to accompany weight loss. Quite the opposite! Surgery requires a lifetime of effort and attention to a healthy lifestyle. It involves some serious trade-offs as noted in our last post. Our clients consistently tell us that it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done.
Lifestyle and Dietary Modifications
We want to be clear about one thing: bariatric surgery does not require you to follow a ‘special’ diet at all. If anything, the most ideal eating habits following a bariatric procedure involve regular, frequent eating and well-balanced meals plus snacks. The same can be said about physical activity. There are no specific exercises that will give you the biggest weight loss ‘bang for your buck’.
As simple as that all may sound, healthy lifestyle and eating habits can be challenging to tackle and maintain. In addition to eating well and moving regularly, getting restful sleep, reducing stressors, and practicing self-care (amongst others) are all important lifestyle factors that need to be prioritized when considering weight management. If poor sleep and stressors are not addressed, then eating well and incorporating physical activity can be more difficult for some. Keep in mind that bariatric surgery does not specifically address these elements, so they may be a struggle for some people if not addressed before surgery. Are you up for the challenge?
Support (or lack thereof)
We don’t mean financial support (although, it’s always nice when you don’t have to worry about money). More specifically, do you have emotional support in place? No one said bariatric surgery would be easy; however, it can be so much more difficult when you don’t have supportive family, friends, or healthcare practitioners in your corner to help you through this process.
Who Should Not Have Surgery (at least not yet)?
Our years of experience have allowed us to work with thousands of clients, and we’ve seen the damage and baggage that years of weight stigma and yo-yo dieting can do to people. While this doesn’t apply to everybody, there are definitely some things that should give you pause.
It is extremely important to understand that bariatric surgery is not a “magic fix”. It doesn’t change your whole life or all of the barriers to managing your weight. It doesn’t make you a different person. It doesn’t change your thought patterns, or fix your body image or your relationship with food (even though people usually think it will). It doesn’t break you free from “diet mentality”, and it won’t cure people with disordered eating. In some cases, it can actually make these things worse.
If some of those statements are triggering for you, then the last thing you want to do is rush into surgery. We’ve seen that story more times than we can count, and it usually doesn’t end well. You would do much better to work through some of these issues with a good social worker or psychologist before having surgery. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be better prepared for success if you still decide to move forward to surgery.
Are There Other Options?
We’re not suggesting trying another crash diet or jumping on the bandwagon with the latest eating fads. But in all seriousness, have you exhausted all your options? Have you looked into other non-surgical focused bariatric programs or medication therapy for weight management? If not, these options may be worth considering first.
Ultimately, whether or not you choose to have bariatric surgery should be a decision that you wholeheartedly feel at peace with. Understanding the ‘why’ behind your choice is only something you can figure out. In reflecting on the above noted points, we hope that your decision becomes a little clearer.
If you’re thinking about having bariatric surgery or have previously had surgery and are looking for some support, check out our services page! We’d be more than happy to talk to you about how to navigate this process and help you optimize your success.
Supporting you always,