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Misconceptions About Bariatric Surgery


Submitted by Illinois Bariatric Center

It’s no secret that a large percentage of the population is overweight. In fact, according to the CDC, more than two-thirds of American adults are considered to be significantly overweight or obese. Furthermore, most people have struggled with their weight issues for a long time, and many have been unable to lose weight by conventional methods of healthy eating and increased physical activity — despite repeated efforts. Being overweight is the underlying cause for many serious health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease to name a few. This is one reason why bariatric surgery is becoming more widely accepted and is being considered by more and more people as a way to gain control of their bodies and begin a path to a healthier life. There have been huge improvements in weight loss surgery methods over the past several decades; however, many misconceptions about these procedures remain. Let’s clear up some of the most common misconceptions.

Weight loss surgery is very risky
Any type of surgery includes a certain amount of risk. However, recent advances in surgical techniques have made procedures such as LAP-BAND very low risk. In the past, weight loss surgery involved a large, open incision; many surgeons were inexperienced in performing the procedure; and recovery involved several days in the hospital. Today, LAP-BAND® is performed with a few small incisions, it is usually done on an outpatient basis, and patients typically go back to work in a few days. There is a new procedure called the OBERA® gastric balloon that is non-surgical and is inserted via the esophagus. The truth is, that for most people, it is far riskier to continue to live with their poor health conditions caused by excess weight than to have weight loss surgery.

Bariatric surgery is a quick and easy way to lose weight
Having surgery to produce weight loss is a serious decision, and it’s not a “miracle cure.” It is a tool to help people lose weight. The surgery itself is just the beginning. People must make a lifelong commitment to changing their eating habits and developing healthy behaviors.

Insurance does not pay for bariatric surgery
In the past, insurance did not usually cover weight loss surgery. That is changing, and many insurance companies now cover surgical procedures for weight loss. If you are considering weight loss surgery, contact your insurance company as every plan is different. Your physician can also assist you in working with your insurance company to determine if the recommended procedure will be covered. There are many different types of weight loss surgery and it is not always based on just weight alone. If you have other health issues that are being affected by excess weight — that can be a factor.

Most people who have bariatric surgery regain the weight
According to the American Society for metabolic and bariatric surgery, as many as 50 percent of patients may regain a small amount of weight two years or more following their surgery. However, most bariatric surgery patients maintain successful weight-loss long term. An experienced weight loss surgeon’s office will have support staff that includes nurses, dietitians, and psychologists to support patients before and after surgery to ensure they develop healthy eating habits and avoid the poor nutrition habits that originally led to the weight gain.

You’ll never be able to eat regular food again
You may be on a liquid diet for a short period of time after surgery, but most people can eat all kinds of foods — they just eat them in smaller quantities.

You must weigh over 300 pounds to qualify for weight loss surgery
There are guidelines that must be followed in order to qualify for weight loss surgery. These guidelines are based on your BMI as well as your other medical conditions. LAP-BAND and OBERA are FDA approved for a BMI of 30 or more, especially if there is another serious health condition. Everyone’s situation is different, which is why it’s important to consult with a physician that specializes in bariatric surgery. People are often surprised to know that you don’t have to be extremely obese in order to qualify for surgery. Oftentimes, only being 50 pounds overweight would qualify someone for surgery.

People do not have to accept their weight as an unchangeable condition of their life. Bariatric surgery is an option that may help to produce and maintain weight loss. Success is possible.

For information on the ORBERA™ Managed Weight Loss Program or LAP-BAND®  surgery, you may contact Dr. Sidney Rohrscheib at the Illinois Bariatric Center at 217-935-7037. Illinois Bariatric Center is one of the few practices in Central Illinois that is qualified to offer the ORBERA™ non-surgical procedure. The practice provides a unique multidisciplinary program dedicated to the management and treatment of obesity.