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WLS: Easy Way Out or Healthy Way Forward?

WLS: Easy Way Out or Healthy Way Forward?
31 August 2020 Laura Eggerichs
Sign with text the easy way out or the final way forward

Is Bariatric Surgery Cheating?

Perhaps you’ve fought many years if not your whole life to lose weight. You have dieted, suffered day after day trying to eat as little as possible.  When you lose weight, people cheer you on.  “Nice job! Keep it going…(but be careful not to gain it back)!”  You work at it and try to be “good,” but the weight creeps back up again.  And where the cheers were, there’s now silence.  After a few rounds of this, you decide,  “That’s enough! I’m having bariatric surgery!” But something inside whispers:  “Am I cheating?  That’s what everyone says….” But is bariatric surgery the easy way out, or the healthy way forward?

The study “Bariatric Surgery: Not the ‘Easy’ Way Out – the ‘Healthy’ Way Out” (Rose, Pories, Roberson, & Neil, 2018), discusses the stigma faced by those undergoing bariatric surgery: “Society still holds the attitude that surgery is the easy way out, but research suggests that patients with obesity opt for surgery most frequently as the ‘last resort’ in the face of relentlessly deteriorating health” (p. 12).

It’s rare to find someone who’s overweight or obese that has never tried to lose weight.  Instead, they have tried…at lot.  And in addition to trying to lose weight through diet and exercise which may or may not lead to weight loss, people who are overweight or obese often face challenges in society at large.  Have you ever:  felt anxious about your weight, been left out, stayed at home instead of going to that party, felt ignored at a clothing store, been stared at in a restaurant, or had a healthcare professional say to you, “Have you ever thought about trying to lose that extra weight? You know, exercise, eating less…”

Between the social stigma and chronic diseases and conditions facing those with obesity,  WLS turns into a bit of a misnomer because it’s not just about losing weight. It’s about type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, gout, migraines, acid reflux (GERD), infertility in women, and simply the quality of life experienced, just to scratch the surface (see image below). In fact, treating disease is the main reason why many decide to have bariatric surgery, thereby losing the weight and the diseases that went with it for good. Just like traditional weight loss, you need to put in a lot of hard work both before and after the surgery. But you see the effort paying off so much more and in so many different ways.

Diseases and Conditions Improved by Bariatric Surgery

Image Retrieved from: https://www.drchiragthakkar.com/patients-guide-to-bariatric-weight-loss-surgery-in-india/

 

According to Rose, et. al. (2018), “Perhaps we should refocus, viewing it not as ‘weight loss surgery’, per se.  For patients, it is the ‘healthy choice’ rather than the ‘easy way out.’  In our previous study, 12 patients overwhelmingly felt that their decision to undergo the surgery was a ‘last resort’. Thus, the surgery represented for them a dramatic approach to regaining their own health rather than a choice simply to help them lose weight(p. 14).

 

Reference:

Rose, M.A., Pories, M.L., Roberson, D., & Neil, J.A. (2018). Bariatric Surgery: Not the ‘Easy’ Way Out – the ‘Healthy’ Way Out. Bariatric Times. 15(3): 12-14. Retrieved from http://bariatrictimes.com/healthy-way-out-march-2018/on 26 August 2020.

 

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