With New Year’s resolutions the name of the game at the moment, weight loss is most likely on the minds of many. In fact, a YouGov poll taken in December 2014 showed that weight loss was by far the most common resolution, at 35% of all respondents; 2015 was no different, with a Marist poll showing weight loss remaining on top.
One of the ways that people may consider losing weight is by undertaking surgery, but there are numerous risks involved. When dealing with something as complicated and sensitive as weight loss, sometimes people may feel like they have no hope other than surgery, even going so far as to convince themselves that it is the best option, even when it’s not. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common lies people tell themselves when moving towards a decision to have weight loss surgery to meet their goals.
“I’ve tried everything”
Losing weight is not just a physical challenge, but a mental one as well; being in the wrong mindset and taking shortcuts will not help you in the long term. Remember that weight loss is not easy: it takes time, effort, and sometimes major lifestyle changes. Consider whether you have really put in the hard work before you move straight to weight-loss surgery.
“I have bad genes”
Recent research has shown that genetic predisposition to obesity does exist, but that exercise can nearly completely counteract any genetic effects. This means that even if you do have a genetic predisposition to obesity, with exercise and a healthy diet you should still be able to lose the weight. The study’s lead author noted that “we’re not complete slaves to our genetic makeup and really can make a big difference to our future health by changing our behaviour,” so don’t rely on your genes as an excuse.
“It’s a low-risk surgery”
Even though studies have backed up the relative low risk nature of bariatric surgery, consider whether putting yourself at risk is the right thing to do in your circumstances. One factor to think about is that even though the surgery itself may be low risk, any time that you have surgery performed, you risk becoming a victim of medical negligence or accident. A firm of medical solicitors carried out research on more than 1000 negligence cases, which revealed that surgical negligence was the most common type of medical negligence they dealt with, at 30% of all cases.
The most common consequences of surgical negligence in a failed bariatric surgery were:
- constant pain (61% of those affected);
- internal injuries and intermittent internal pain; and
- patients who experienced procedures without informed consent.
“I fully understand the risks and did the research”
The main issue here is that most of the risks involved in weight loss surgery are unpredictable accidents – so no matter how much research you’ve done, you can still be vulnerable.
It’s also important to ensure that you’ve considered long-term risks, and numerous flow-on effects are still being found to affect patients even years after surgery. For example, a recent study from Taiwan found that bariatric surgery could cause nutrient loss from bones, and lead to an increased risk of bone fractures down the line. Another recent study found that weight-loss surgery could cause “stress and anxiety, and changes in hormones,” both of which led to an increased risk of self-harm for bariatric surgery patients. These types of risks are hard to predict and may not be listed as “risks” in many pamphlets or websites about the surgery.
“I need it”
Most doctors recommend surgery only to patients who:
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more. This would be about 100 pounds overweight for men or 80 pounds for women;
- Have a lower BMI (but are still obese) and have a serious health problem related to obesity, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, severe sleep apnea, or high cholesterol;
- Have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight by other means; and
- Fully understand the risks.
If you still want to move forward with the procedure, make sure you visit another doctor and look for a second opinion before and after the surgery.
Whatever you decide to do, ensure that you have all the information before you proceed, and consider whether you really have exhausted all of your other options. It can be too easy to view weight loss surgery as more minor than it truly is, especially with rates of bariatric surgery increasing rapidly. Just because it may look like “everyone else is doing it,” it doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
Featured photo credit: Daniel Oines via flickr.com