Obesity is a complex disease with a web of interlocking causes that are unique to each patient, including genetics, nutrition, hormones, medication, environment, and sleep. As healthcare professionals, it is our responsibility to understand every treatment option available for patients with obesity and help them navigate which choice is right for their unique circumstances.
Surgical treatments for obesity should be combined with permanent healthy changes in nutrition, physical activity, and behavior to be effective. Combining surgery with anti-obesity medications can also achieve greater weight loss and prevent weight regain. Patients considering bariatric surgery should review the benefits and risks of every option with an experienced bariatric surgeon. Bariatric surgery options include:
❯ Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass
❯ Sleeve Gastrectomy
❯ Adjustable Gastric Banding
❯ Biliopancreatic Diversion With Duodenal Switch
❯ Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty
❯ Gastric Balloon
As a primary care provider, I hear many myths and misconceptions about bariatric surgery. Some patients have been told they just need to “eat less and exercise more,” and that they are “lazy.” Some feel that bariatric surgery is taking the “easy way out” and report being told this by other HCPs, friends, and their own family. Besides the stigma around bariatric surgery, popular misconceptions include:
❯ Never being able to eat normal or previously enjoyable food again.
❯ Never eating at a restaurant or having dinner with family as done before.
❯ Postop chronic nutritional deficiencies.
❯ Bariatric surgery is just a “quick fix.”
Bariatric surgery is far from a quick fix; it is the most challenging choice for a patient. Obesity involves a multitude of complex factors, such as behavior change, genetics, socioeconomics, and psychological conditions. Living and eating a certain way for 30-50 years can be incredibly difficult to unlearn and reverse.
As healthcare professionals facing a growing obesity pandemic, bariatric surgery knowledge is a tool in our arsenal. It is our duty to educate patients about bariatric surgery, correct potential misconceptions, and help guide them to determine if it’s the right choice.