From Star Jonesto Al Roker, we’ve all seen first hand the wonders of bariatric surgery. A small surgical intervention and suddenly a life-long battle with weight literally vanishes. What started as a last-chance intervention for the morbidly obese is now working its way into a more mainstream audience with variations on the surgery that are making it more accessible to a wider variety of people. But is it necessarily a good thing?
It depends on how you look at it. Yes, most people can agree that the ability to resume normal activity is preferable to a life crippled by excessive body weight. However, the risks and long-term maintenance of bariatric surgery often includes a radical lifestyle change. Bypass patients must change their diets or suffer tremendous pain, nausea and discomfort… and it’s a change that must take place for life. Even with modification to lifestyle and diet, some bypass patients report chronic problems with reflux or diarrhea. Again, it’s a sacrifice that may be worth it if you’ve got 100 pounds or more to lose, but hardly a wise investment for someone struggling with 40 or even 50 pounds.
The challenge is understanding that gastric bypass and other bariatric surgeries (like lap bad or loop procedures) are not intended to be shortcuts for proper diet and exercise. They are intended to work in concert with these principles to help an individual obtain and maintain a healthy body weight. Surgeries are not intended for those who simply don’t have time for the gym or haven’t been able to manage their diet without prepackaged meals. Like any surgery, there are risks that can range from mild to life-threatening. That said, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who struggle with a weight problem, and have done so for many years, you may want to speak to a physician about your options. You may find that the root of your problem is mental, and thus a psychiatrist or psychologist would be able to offer you solutions surgery would not. Or, you may have a hormonal imbalance, and an endocrinologist would be your strongest ally. Yes, the results of bariatric surgery can be dramatic and hard to ignore, but the mark of lasting good health is equally alluring.