Published on April 11, 2016

Weight-loss surgery: Myths vs. facts

Individuals can lose 50-70% of excess weight in 12-24 months.

Women RunningAnd many people keep the pounds off. Still, you may be wary. Read on to find out the truth behind three weight-loss surgery myths.

Myth: When it comes to losing weight, having surgery is the easy way out.

Fact: Bariatric surgery is not easy, and it is not right for everyone. It is most often recommended to people with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater, or those with a BMI of 35 who have a medical problem that may get better with weight loss.

Your life may change considerably after the surgery. For example, you will need to stick with a healthy eating plan and may need supplements to be sure your body receives enough nutrients. Even surgery isn’t a fail-safe. If you don’t stick with healthy lifestyle changes, it’s possible to gain the weight back.

Myth: Weight-loss surgery is too risky.

Fact: Research has shown weight-loss surgery to be an effective and safe treatment for severe obesity. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the incidence of death and adverse events within 30 days after surgery was very low. It has lower rates than those seen with other major surgeries.

There are risks, however. They include bleeding, infection, blood clots, bowel blockage, heart attack, regaining some weight, and the need for follow-up surgery.

Myth: The only reason to have weight-loss surgery is to improve your appearance.

Fact: Bariatric surgery may help you lose a large amount of excess weight and keep it off. Excess weight can cause medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, sleep apnea, arthritis, and certain cancers. Weight loss may improve or resolve many obesity-related conditions.

In fact, a landmark study of bariatric surgery found that 10 to 15 years after having weight-loss surgery, obese patients were less likely to develop—and more likely to recover from—diabetes and other heart disease risk factors. These patients also showed an almost 25 percent reduction in death, compared with obese patients who didn’t have the procedure.