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Weight loss surgery - 5 myths that need rethinking

The reputation of weight loss surgery has been debated since the first modern gastric bypass was performed in 1954 by Kremen. Public opinion is often divided, and this is sometimes due to misconceptions about obesity as a condition and misinterpretation of existing data. Over the past 20 years, bariatric surgery has made a lot of progress and advancements both with scientific research and surgical techniques. During Obesity Awareness Week, Mr Georgios Vasilikostas, Consultant Bariatric Surgeon at New Victoria Hospital in Kingston Upon Thames, debunks 5 common myths around the risks and benefits of weight loss procedures.

Obesity is responsible for thousands of hospital admissions and cancer cases in the UK

In the past year, there were 11.117 hospital admissions directly related to obesity with a 4% increase since 2017-2018.

Being overweight and obese are the second most frequent cause of cancer after smoking and responsible for 6% of all cancers overall.

5 weight loss surgery myths that need rethinking

It is estimated that over 3.6 million people in the UK could be eligible for bariatric surgery that can improve the quality of their life both in terms of comorbidities, if present, and life expectancy.

Hundreds of studies over the years have proved that bariatric surgery can be a life-saving treatment for many, and in some cases, the only one possible where diet, exercise and medication fail in the long term.

And yet it seems that public opinion is still reluctant to see weight loss surgery as a common treatment for obesity.

There are still many misconceptions around bariatric procedures that might prevent some people from having the help they need. Many people are still convinced that obesity is the result of a lack of willpower.
Let’s debunk the most common 5 weight loss surgery myths during Obesity Awareness Week.

Myth 1 – I can die during a bariatric surgery procedure

Death is a risk that can be associated with any surgical procedure. Depending on the type of surgery, pathologies and comorbidities, the risk can vary significantly.

However, death for bariatric surgery patients is very rare and often associated with severe cardiovascular problems.

In fact, the risk of death during and after weight loss procedures has been estimated to be less than 0.2% worldwide and 0.07% in England.

Myth 2 – I can obtain the same weight loss results with diet and exercise

Many studies have shown that bariatric surgery results are more consistent in the long term.
Diet and exercise combined are one of the most common ways to lose weight. Acquiring or maintaining a healthy lifestyle even after surgery is fundamental.

However, diet and exercise can often be temporary options for weight loss, and unlikely to offer the long-term results and benefits that surgical treatments can provide.

Obesity is a condition that depends on many factors, such as lifestyle, genetics, environmental, pathologies or medications and if not treated appropriately, can lead to many conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Sometimes bariatric surgery is the only viable option, especially when non-surgical methods fail repeatedly.

Myth 3 – I will suffer from malnutrition after bariatric surgery

Iron and vitamin deficiencies are risks associated with weight loss surgery, in particular with gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. After surgery, multivitamins, iron and calcium supplement intake is needed for life.

However, if vitamin and mineral levels are monitored and managed adequately, together with a balanced diet regime, your body will have all the elements it needs to provide energy and function correctly. In fact, it is very unlikely that a patient will become underweight following weight loss surgery.

Myth 4 – I will have mental health problems after surgery

Emotional changes are normal, and weight loss surgery can have a great impact on many aspects of your life.

Some patients who seek surgical treatment might suffer from depression and binge eating disorder. Studies show that weight loss journeys might lead to improved mood and better mental wellbeing after surgery.

Psychological support is key both prior and after surgery.

Myth 5 – Bariatric surgery is the key to happiness

Weight loss can improve self-esteem and confidence, but it is not an easy way out. Building new attitudes and healthy habits is part of the process.

You might think that weight loss happens straight away after your operation, but bariatric surgery is a tool to make the required diet and lifestyle changes less challenging to be achieved and maintained over time.

At New Victoria Hospital, they offer Free Mini Consultations to give you the chance to ask your questions directly to one of their Bariatric Surgeons, as well as understanding more about the available options.

If you are considering weight loss surgery at New Victoria Hospital, you can book a free mini consultation with one of their Bariatric Surgeons by filling the online form or calling the Outpatient Department on 020 8949 9020.

Video consultations are also available.

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