Bariatric Journal

10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss Surgery

10 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Weight Loss Surgery

If you have your mindset on bariatric surgery, you must be consulting a physician or surgeon. Weight loss surgery can become a necessity in severe cases of obesity. It might be essential for continuing a healthy lifestyle. Receiving pre-and post-operation guidance is necessary. Hence, it is necessary to have a doctor you trust.

Yet, it’s not necessary that everyone finds a doctor who guides the patient patiently. Life after a weight loss surgery might not be what you imagine. For different people who undergo bariatric surgery procedures, the post-surgery experience can be good, bad, or even downright embarrassing.

We must understand that bariatric surgery is usually not a choice. It becomes a necessity. Hence, if you choose to undergo weight loss surgery, the following are some things you must know. Even if your doctor forgets to mention them, you need to understand and acknowledge the following.

1. Post-Surgery Depression is a Real Thing

According to some researchers, obesity and depression commonly go hand in hand. Feelings of depression may worsen for some patients who undergo bariatric surgery, even though a majority of them experience an overall improvement in both mental and physical health. Researchers at Yale University did a study showing an increase in the Beck Depression Inventory in 13 percent of patients. The study was published in the Obesity Journal. The BDI index is a numerical rating for measuring social functioning, self-esteem, and eating disorder behavior. The study went on for six to twelve months after the gastric bypass surgery. The same time frame according to the authors is an essential period for assessing post-surgery depression and associated symptoms.

2. Corrective surgery for excess skin is costly and it can be an issue!

In most cases, the weight loss after bariatric surgery is gradual. In these situations, the body and skin have time to slowly adjust to the changes. Yet, in some cases, patients may experience excess skin which needs to be fixed using cosmetic surgery. Insurance companies do not cover the surgery unless it is deemed medically necessary as in cases where a rash or infection may be caused due to a surplus of droopy skin. In 2013, member surgeons performed more than 40,000 operations for body contouring, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The operations were for reshaping of stomach, thigh, arms, and breasts in patients experiencing substantial amounts of weight loss. A body-contouring operation can cost anywhere over $4,000 and range to much higher amounts.

3. Diarrhea can become a common issue.

The dumping syndrome is common in 85 percent of the patients who undergo an RNYGB (Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass). It involves extreme bouts of diarrhea at some point after the weight loss surgery. The term ‘dumping syndrome’ is given by ASMBS (The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery). The syndrome generally results from poor choices in food including fried foods, refined sugars, and some dairy or fats. It can lead to mild-to-severe symptoms like active audible bowel sounds, cramping, nausea, a desire to lie down, lightheadedness, flushing, and sweating. This does not really sound like a fairytale dream, does it? Unfortunately, these aren’t the only symptoms. Other post-surgery bowel-related complaints are common and include malodorous flatus (according to experts) or embarrassing gas, constipation, and loose stools.

4. It might lead to an increase in use or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse increases in patients significantly after the weight loss procedure. A study published in JAMA shows the same. The study examined patients who had gastric bypass surgery at different time durations post-surgery, like one, three, six, and 24 months. A plausible explanation for alcohol abuse can be different peak alcohol levels in different individuals. People reach these levels much faster after gastric bypass surgery as alcohol passes faster through the system. There are also a few other theories that explain the connection between weight loss surgery and alcohol abuse.

5. Exercising is still necessary so you’ll need that gym membership anyway!

Most professional doctors counsel patients regarding following a balanced post-surgery diet to promote loss of excess weight after the surgery. Yet, that’s not the only change you’ll have to make in your lifestyle. According to recommendations from the Obesity Action Coalition, after some time doctors clear their patients for normal physical activity. After this point, you will have to commit to up to 60 minutes of physical exercise, six days every week. It leads to an ideal situation for the success of post-surgery weight loss and control. In short, weight loss surgery is not a quick fix. It takes effort and time to maintain the results.

6. Quitting Soda is Essential

Yes, you heard it right. Carbonated beverages introduce air into your stomach, so, they’re a big no. The air can further create gas, adding pressure in the stomach. This leads to unnecessary expansion of the stomach and might undo the results of the bariatric surgery. You can replace soda with lots of water intake. Dehydration can be a common reason for being readmitted to the hospital according to the ASMBS. So, make sure you keep a tab on your water intake.

7. You might experience friction with your partner.

Emotional changes and mood swings are a package deal with drastic physical transformations. Such emotional changes do not affect just you, but also your relationships, especially if you live with a person. According to a study, divorce rates increase among couples in which one partner undergoes bariatric surgery. It is common especially in the first year after the surgery. So, while great post-operative medical care is a no-brainer, you might want to consider seeking emotional guidance from a professional. It can be just for you or both you and your spouse. You can join a support group or go for counseling with a therapist. Either way, patients need to limit the negative impacts of the post-surgery emotional changes on their relationships.

8. You might be part of the test group for a new hunger-controlling device, which claims to treat obesity.

The Maestro Rechargeable System is a first-of-its-kind weight loss device like a pacemaker. The FDA has recently approved it. The device helps in suppressing appetite by delivering electronic pulses to the body nerves communicating hunger or similar signals with the brain. The procedure for installing this device is not as invasive as bariatric surgery. Yet, it needs an hour-long outpatient surgery for implanting the device in the abdomen of the recipient. The device is neither widely available nor is the results in weight loss as impressive as in the case of bariatric surgery. Hence, it can be an option for patients suffering from severe obesity who need to reach a specific weight goal for safely undergoing a bariatric surgery procedure. The device is not a replacement for weight loss surgery though. It is also a solution for patients in need of help for weight control post-surgery. So, you might want to discuss the same with your doctor.

9. If we compare it to doing nothing at all, the risks of surgery are lower.

Weight loss surgery is a risky procedure. At least it has developed a reputation. These days, the procedures are much safer and have improved over the years. According to reports from ASMBS, there’s only a mere 4.3 percent chance of having a major complication. On the other hand, the risks of staying obese are far more dangerous, including stroke, diabetes, heart diseases, and even death.

10. Most patients say they’d go for it again, in a heartbeat!

The success of bariatric surgery is a long term commitment and process. Yet, if we ask patients who have experienced it, they say they’d do it again. Many people report they feel more active and better after the surgery and subsequent weight loss. Also, they need lesser medications for treating complications arising from obesity. All in all, the overall quality of life improves significantly post-bariatric surgery.


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