How Do You Know When You’re Ready for Bariatric Surgery?
It’s a scary prospect. Having surgery for something that most of our peers believe is a personal failing – just eating too much or exercising too little. Indeed, feeling that bariatric surgery is a cop out or taking the easy way out is a common thought amongst our patients. However, once they attend a seminar or visit us for a consultation, they realize that obesity is much like other chronic diseases and needs to be treated effectively and over the long term.
But for those of you reading this blog or wondering if bariatric surgery is right for you, how do you know when you’re ready?
The National Institutes of Health and the FDA have set forth guidelines for candidacy for bariatric surgery. These are guidelines that we also follow. Bariatric surgery is most effective for those with a BMI of 35 or over with one or more obesity related diseases known as comorbidities or a BMI of 40 or more regardless of comorbidities. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. These stipulations don’t take into account psychological and emotional factors that obese people suffer from.
Those suffering from obesity are more likely to experience mental health issues including depression, largely because they aren’t able to enjoy their lives the way that normal weight people do. These psychological factors, in turn, make it harder for them to do anything about the disease and ultimately a vicious cycle ensues. The problem is often even more severe in younger patients suffering from obesity.
When obese patients are not able to fit into a regular plane seat, play with their kids or grandkids for more than a few minutes at a time, go to the movies and more, this takes a serious emotional toll. Most begin to shy away from activities they once enjoyed, and it becomes harder to live a full and enjoyable life.
Unfortunately, society still places a stigma on obesity. This has been shown in various scenarios concluding that earning and career improvement potential is stunted by excess weight. While unfair, it is a reality in many people’s lives.
The cost of obesity is very high. Doctors’ appointments, related diseases and medications, accommodating extra size by buying additional plane tickets and even the cost of food conspire to increase financial hardship on those already suffering from obesity
So how do we know we are ready?
Most patients experience a wake-up call of sorts. It may be an event or series of events that finally lead them to question whether they want to continue on the same path forever. This is usually the moment where they decide to take health into their own hands and speak to a surgeon about the possibility of weight loss surgery.
However, as many of our surgeons have said in their seminars, the ultimate decision to have bariatric surgery rests with you – not with anyone around you or their perceptions. This is not to say that you can’t have help when making the decision – in fact, having support of family and friends is an excellent way to lose more weight and keep it off over the long term. However, you must believe, in your own heart, that this is the best way and you must commit to changing your lifestyle in the form of improved diet and exercise after your surgery. Remember, obesity is a chronic disease and requires strength and commitment not just in the months after surgery, but for the rest of your life.
So, when you’re ready, we ask that you visit us at our live seminars or feel free to watch our online seminar to learn more about bariatric surgery. To be sure, not all patients are suitable candidates for bariatric surgery and attending a seminar the first step and finding out whether it is right for you. Most importantly, you must think about your health and well-being now and in the future with the understanding that the risks of living with obesity are often much higher than the risk of having surgery.
Lastly, weight loss surgery is not a silver bullet and you will have to change your lifestyle significantly, employing a great deal of willpower and commitment for the rest of your life. That said, changing your life and your health can yield unbelievable tangible and intangible benefits.