Bariatric Surgery Myths
Pre Weight Loss Surgery
Deciphering Between Fact and Fiction: Bariatric Surgery Myths

Bariatric surgery myths can often cloud the judgment of those considering this life-changing procedure. As a weight loss surgeon with expertise in this field, it's crucial to debunk these misconceptions and provide accurate information to potential patients. Let's dive into some common bariatric surgery myths and separate fact from fiction.

Debunking Common Bariatric Surgery Myths

It is important to note that not every surgeon may agree with me, so I encourage you to follow what your program teaches.

Myth #1: Bariatric Surgery Is the Easy Way Out

It's a misconception that bariatric surgery is a quick fix or an effortless path to weight loss. In reality, it's a powerful tool that can help individuals who have struggled with obesity for years. Surgery is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to a healthier lifestyle, including dietary changes and regular exercise. It's far from the "easy way out."

Myth #2: You Can't Chew Gum After Bariatric Surgery

The myth that you can't chew gum after bariatric surgery comes from the idea that gum allows air to enter your digestive tract which can cause gas and discomfort. I don't believe this. In fact, there is some data that says chewing gum can help control appetite. Although, I do encourage my patients to chew a sugar-free gum.

Myth #3: You Can't Drink Through a Straw

Similarly, this bariatric surgery myth that you can't drink through a straw comes from the idea that it can lead to excess air in the pouch, causing discomfort. Although this could be true, and could cause a patient to feel a sense of gas and "burpiness", there is no danger to using a straw after weight loss surgery.

Myth #4: You Can't Eat Carbs after Surgery

Bariatric surgery does require dietary modifications, but it doesn't mean you can't enjoy food or carbs. Carbs after bariatric surgery are not prohibited, but patients are encouraged to limit carb intake to under 100 grams/day and opt for health carbs, such as fruits and whole grains. Similarly, patients learn to savor smaller portions of nutritious, satisfying meals. It's about quality, not quantity. Many people discover a newfound appreciation for healthier foods and mindful eating.

Myth #5: You Shouldn't Eat and Drink at the Same Time

Although this myth makes sense from a physiological standpoint, especially for gastric sleeve patients who may experience reflux if their pouch is too full. However, there has never been a study looking at success rates in patients who drink with their meals and those who don't drink with their meals. What I tell my patients is they can sip liquids with their meal, but to avoid gulping.

Myth #6: You Can't Drink Carbonated Beverages or Soda

Certainly, carbonated beverages can cause bloating and discomfort, but bariatric patients can still drink sugar-free carbonated drinks. You will not stretch out your pouch by having soda or carbonated beverages. Now, I can make a strong argument why sodas are not good for your health, including diet sodas, but they are not dangerous to bariatric patients from a physiological standpoint. I encourage patients to not drink carbonated drinks with their meal, and to not overindulge in sodas.

Myth #7: Bariatric Surgery Is Dangerous

While any surgical procedure carries some level of risk, modern bariatric surgery is generally safe, thanks to advancements in medical technology and techniques. In fact, the risks associated with obesity, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea, often far outweigh the risks of the surgery. Surgeons carefully evaluate candidates and take necessary precautions to ensure patient safety.

Myth #8: You Can Achieve the Same Results with Diet and Exercise Alone

While diet and exercise are vital components of a healthy lifestyle, they may not be enough for individuals with severe obesity. Bariatric surgery can provide the jumpstart needed for significant weight loss, making it easier for patients to adopt healthier habits. It's a powerful tool that works in conjunction with a balanced lifestyle.

Myth #9: Bariatric Surgery is a Cosmetic Procedure

Bariatric surgery primarily addresses health concerns associated with obesity, such as diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea. While weight loss is a positive side effect, it's not the primary goal. Bariatric surgery aims to improve overall well-being and reduce the risk of obesity-related complications.

Myth #10: Bariatric Surgery Solves All Weight-Related Issues

While bariatric surgery can be transformative, it's not a guarantee against future weight gain. Long-term success depends on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise. It's a tool for weight loss and health improvement, but it's not a magic solution.

In conclusion, debunking these bariatric surgery myths is essential to providing accurate information to potential patients. As a weight loss surgeon and advocate for healthy living, it's important to approach these misconceptions with compassion, support, and evidence-based knowledge. Weight loss surgery can be a life-changing journey towards better health, and it's essential to dispel common bariatric surgery myths and promote understanding within our community.

Lloyd Stegemann, MD
Dr. Lloyd Stegemann is a board-certified general and bariatric surgeon with a primary focus on medical and surgical weight loss. Dr. Stegemann practices in Corpus Christi, Texas and serves as the Medical Director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery program at Bay Area Hospital and South Texas Surgical Hospital.
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