Your decision to undergo bariatric surgery
The decision about whether to undergo bariatric surgery is fairly complex and most importantly, very personal.
You must understand that bariatric surgery is a major undertaking, and though most patients enjoy an improvement in obesity-related health conditions and self-esteem after successful surgery, these results should not be the overriding motivation for having the procedure.
Deciding to undergo a bariatric surgical procedure will change your life in a dramatic and permanent way, so there’s no such thing as too much careful consideration. Even if you are interested in having surgery, your goals should be to live better, healthier, and longer.
Consideration and consultation before bariatric surgery
For all these reasons, you should make the decision to have bariatric surgery only after careful consideration and consultation with an experienced bariatric surgeon or a knowledgeable family physician. A qualified surgeon should answer your questions clearly and explain the exact details of the procedure, the extent of the recovery period, and the reality of the follow-up care that will be required.
As part of routine evaluation for bariatric surgery, they may require you to consult with a dietitian/nutritionist and a psychiatrist/therapist. This is to help establish a clear understanding of the post-operative changes in behavior that are essential for long-term success.
The outcome of bariatric surgery
It is important to remember that there are no ironclad guarantees in any kind of medicine or surgery. There can be unexpected outcomes in even the simplest procedures. What can be said, however, is that bariatric surgery will only succeed when the patient makes a lifelong commitment. Some of the challenges facing a person after bariatric surgery can be unexpected. Lifestyle changes can strain relationships within families and between married couples.
To help patients achieve their goals and deal with the changes surgery and weight-loss can bring, most bariatric surgeons offer follow-up care that includes support groups, dieticians, and other forms of continuing education.
Deciding to undergo bariatric surgery
Ultimately, the decision to have the procedure is up to you. After hearing all the information, you must decide if the benefits outweigh the side effects and potential complications. Remember, this surgery is only a tool. Your ultimate success depends on strict adherence to the recommended dietary, exercise, and lifestyle changes.
The following are considerations that help determine whether or not a patient should have bariatric surgery:
Surgery is only offered when a patient meets the medical definition of morbid obesity and have failed dietary and medical management of this problem. For patients who do not meet these criteria, the risk of surgery outweighs the expected health benefits of the weight-loss. Bariatric surgery should never be done solely for cosmetic reasons. Unlike other centers in the country, we currently do not offer bariatric surgery to someone who does not meet the weight criteria.
Ability to comply with pre- and post-operative lifestyle changes
You must be able to follow the advice of your surgeon, especially regarding dietary habits after surgery. Again, bariatric surgery is only a tool, and a patient’s expectations are unrealistic if a patient depends on the procedure to "take care of the weight problem" in some magical way. Dietary habits that we recommend after bariatric surgery are simple and very effective if adhered to. Bariatric surgery is a powerful tool to achieve long-lasting weight-loss if used correctly.
Complicated medical conditions
Some people who are severely obese are extremely ill as a result of their obesity. In these individuals, the excess weight may have caused significant and permanent damage to one or more organ systems. The most commonly affected organs are the lungs (sleep apnea), the heart (congestive failure or coronary artery disease), the kidneys (damage from diabetes or high blood pressure), and bones and joints (damage from stress and arthritis). Medical problems like these increase the risk of any major surgical procedure including bariatric surgery, but they also strengthen the need for weight-loss. In other words, patients with these medical conditions require careful consideration, but do not necessarily require surgery. It is the sole decision of our surgeons to decide whether your risk of undergoing surgery outweighs your current medical risks.
Surgical candidates are 18 years of age and older. Those on the higher age spectrum require extra consideration to evaluate the appropriateness of surgery, since they may be at a higher-than-average risk for this operation, and also because they may not completely benefit from its outcome.