Is Bariatric Surgery Worth It?

Feb 10, 2021

Bariatric surgery is a life-altering experience. No matter which weight loss surgery you choose, the procedure is expensive and will require that you make big changes to your lifestyle.

As with any surgery, there are benefits and shortcomings to consider. In some cases, the impact on your life may make you wonder if it is truly worth the cost and risks.

The big question remains that is it all worth it in the end?

In this article I will try and unpack some of the pros and cons that people do not consider when making thedecision to haveweight loss surgery.

To make the best decision, speak honestly and openly with your surgeon about what weight loss surgery can and cannot do for you and always be guided by expert advice.

smiling plus-size woman leaning against pole

The Pros : 4 benefits of bariatric surgery that go beyond just losing weight

benefits of weight loss surgery

Bariatric surgery can be life-changing for those who want to lose weight. But did you know that there are so many more health benefits to it besides just taking that weight off? 

Bariatric surgery can produce sustainable weight loss in obese people who have not achieved long-term success with other weight loss attempts. Bariatric surgery is about weight loss and weight maintenance as well. Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are the most common procedures.

1. Long-term remission for type 2 diabetes

One study reported that bariatric surgery causes long-term remission of type 2 diabetes. The results of this study show the procedure is highly effective for obese patients with type 2 diabetes, allowing almost all patients to remain free of insulin and other related medications for at least three years after surgery.

Couple in mini car

2. Reduces the risk of early death

Weight loss surgery decreases a person’s risk of dying from coronary heart disease, stroke and peripheral heart disease. Plus, one study even reported that the weight loss achieved from the surgery can help prevent the risk of death associated with stroke, hypertension and myocardial infarction. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels can return to normal, or near normal after surgery, reducing these risks and improving overall well-being.

3. Improve fertility and relief from PCOS

Weight loss surgery can also improve fertility during childbearing years. One study reported that the risk of miscarriage may decline after bariatric surgery and can improve menstrual cycles in women who don’t ovulate.

4. Weight-loss surgery can save you money

According to a study published in British Journal of Surgery weight loss surgery not only saved the Health Care Systems money on taking care of patients over the long run, it also saved money for the recepients of surgery, as they were taking less medications and also saving money by now consuming smaller food quantities.

withdrawing from super - piggy bank

The Cons : 4 ‘Unpleasant’ Things not many people talk about weight loss surgery

Life after weight loss surgery isn’t always what people expect. In addition to changes in your appetite, you may experience unexpected alterations in your lifestyle, social life, relationships, and emotions. The changes often come as a surprise to people who hoped that the surgery might offer an easy way out of their weight loss predicament.

A great many people do enjoy an improved quality of life after bariatric surgery, (particularly those debilitated by obesity). However, the procedure is not for everyone and requires uplifting our ‘Mindset”. Here are seen things you should know about and prepare yourself accordingly

1. Alcohol Use Disorder

Some patients who undergo surgery, particularly gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, experience alcohol use disorders in the years after surgery. There is speculation that the procedures alter the way alcohol is processed in the body. Because of this, some patients may be at higher risk for alcohol use disorder. Male sex, younger age, tobacco use, and drinking patterns prior to bariatric surgery are associated with increased risk.

alcohol at social functions

2. New Social Habits

As you begin to build a new relationship with food, you may not be able to partake in social situations that revolve around food. You would instead learn to schedule social outings around physical activity, which some of your friends may not be keen about.

3. Loss of Relationships

Your changing social habits may frustrate and even alienate the friends you had prior to surgery. You will need to work with your family and friends to accept the new behaviours, and that may be a challenge because most people prefer to keep their life the way it was. That includes any bad habits that may have caused weight gain in the first place.

In order to stay on track, people who undergo bariatric surgery will often build entirely new social circles with friends who practice healthier behaviours. This can sometimes result in the loss of old friendships, which can be painful.

4. Emotional Disappointment

If you expect weight loss surgery to solve social or emotional problems and make life better, you may end up disappointed. Some people who gain weight use food for emotional comfort. This isn’t a problem that surgery can solve. If emotional issues are present prior to surgery, they are likely to be present after surgery as well.

‘Weighing’ the Pro and Cons 

All surgeries have risks and benefits to consider. For some patients, having a bariatric procedure, like gastric bypass, is worth it.

For a committed patient, weight loss surgery is an effective tool for losing weight. It has also shown to be effective at reducing the impact of many obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetessleep apnoea, and heart disease.

But it is also important to do your homework prior to surgery and have reasonable expectations about what your life will be like after the surgery. It often helps to speak with someone knows someone who has had a bariatric procedure to gain unbiased insights.

At Melbourne Gastro Surgery- Centre for Weight Loss our patients have ample opportunity to discuss and ask questions to our surgeons and dietitians so as to prepare for the physical and psychological changes that lie ahead.

If you are considering surgery, learn as much as you can about the procedure itself and the changes you’ll have to make to your life. Talk to friends and family, your GP and our surgeons before making a final decision.

So in the end … is it really worth it?

This is a decision that is ultimately for you to decide along with your medical practitioner(s) but you may be interested in reading this review from 2020 on the most talked about procedures and “Were they worth it?”

Written by Dr Arun Dhir
Edited by Lisa Sapardanis