Written By: Emma Squillace
You have probably heard that weight loss surgery, also called bariatric surgery, is the most effective way to lose weight and maintain that weight loss in the long term. Beyond its efficacy, bariatric surgery is a safe option, including for adults over the age of 60 years old. If you have tried to lose weight for years, and are unable to, then it may be a good time to consider bariatric surgery.
Despite the advantages of bariatric surgery, people naturally have concerns. They worry about the surgery itself, the recovery period, how their life will change, and the potential for regaining weight. They also tell us that they struggle with the decision about how to know it’s time to try bariatric surgery. There are certain factors that can help you make that decision.
Bariatric surgery as a last resort?
It’s common to hear bariatric surgery referred to as ‘a last resort’ to lose weight. At West Medical we discourage you from thinking that way. While it is a major step to choose surgery, there is no reason to think of it as a final step when everything else has failed. Studies show that there are some benefits to having weight loss surgery sooner rather than later.
For instance, with type 2 diabetes, there is evidence that patients are more likely to see their diabetes go into remission if they have had the disease for a shorter amount of time before having weight loss surgery. Another common example is with osteoarthritis. You cannot reverse the damage from arthritis, although substantial weight loss can alleviate pain. If you have bariatric surgery and lose a lot of weight before your knees are damaged from arthritis, you can save yourself years of discomfort and give yourself better mobility.
Your health is declining – or you want to prevent health decline
While we would love to see more patients before they have a major health scare related to their weight, often times it is the scare itself that drives people to have bariatric surgery. Sometimes it’s seeing a certain number on their blood pressure readings, being told they have diabetes, signs of heart disease, or finding they are unable to conceive a child. All of these health conditions, and more, can be linked to excess weight. Life expectancy is shorter for people who are obese, and they are more likely to die from many causes compared to people who are normal weight. This connects to our point about hoping people will not consider bariatric surgery only as a last resort. In the case of health conditions and diseases, weight loss surgery is able to slow, prevent, or even reverse damage to the body in some cases. That is why we say that treating obesity is not about the cosmetic benefits – it’s about the life-saving benefits.
You have a support system in place
One factor in deciding if you’re ready for bariatric surgery is the support system you have around you. Most of our successful patients tell us their families play a critical role in their ability to make the necessary lifestyle changes that allow them to lose weight. Families may resist at first, but many patients are able to see healthy changes in their partner and children as well. Meal times become more about choosing good foods, fitness becomes part of family-bonding time, and outings become less about restaurants and more about activities. If you know you have a support system ready to help, whether that is your family, close friends, or other bariatric surgery patients, this can help make your decision easier.
If you are thinking about undergoing a bariatric procedure like the gastric sleeve or gastric bypass, it’s important to feel as though you are ready for this major life step. While it may seem intimidating, we encourage you to start learning about your options as soon as possible. You can begin by calling our office and asking our supportive weight loss team about the procedures we offer. Our experts are happy to answer questions for you, to make sure you understand your options. Call us today at (855) 690-0565.