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What Decisions Go Into Having Bariatric Surgery?

Close up of person measuring their waist with measuring tape

You’ve probably agonized over decisions far smaller than having a life-altering surgery. No one can question that this decision is one of the biggest you’ll ever make. But what factors should go into deciding to have bariatric surgery or continue with the status quo? While we are bariatric surgeons, we do not, by any means, believe that bariatric surgery is suitable for everyone. Hopefully, considering the following will help you make the right decision.

Your Health

This is the primary reason to have bariatric surgery. If you suffer from the effects of excess weight and obesity, and your health situation is significantly compromised, you may wish to consider the surgical option when other more conservative treatment programs have not been effective. When researching bariatric surgery, you may notice that the insurance coverage criteria revolve around your health. We know, for example, that people with a BMI of 40 or over are at very high risk of several diseases, not least of which are type two diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and more. Patients with a BMI of 35 or more with specific comorbidities also qualify. Quite honestly, even those with lower BMIs may have elevated metabolic disease markers, even if they don’t qualify for bariatric surgery. The bottom line? Excess weight is a catalyst for serious health problems.

What You’re Missing Out On

It’s human nature sometimes to ignore our medical issues and instead mask them with medications and other therapies that do not address the root cause of the problem. However, it is far harder to ignore the things you can’t do because of your weight. From being unable to fit in an airplane seat to difficulty tying your shoe, obesity affects us in many ways, both obvious and less so. Many patients have trouble keeping up with their families or missing out on life and career opportunities. Others have significant quality of life or financial issues associated with their weight. There is a tendency to wait until the problem has reached a tipping point or you have reached rock bottom. In truth, waiting for that point only makes recovering more difficult. Instead, it is essential to discuss your weight and the associated effects with your medical team early and consider weight loss surgery if it is presented as a viable option by your doctors.

How Do You Know You’re Not Ready for Bariatric Surgery?

It’s easy to discuss what might make you ready for bariatric surgery, but what about the things that may show you’re not in the right headspace to make this decision?

What Are Your Reasons for Doing This?

Are you having surgery only because someone told you it was a good idea or because a friend or family member had a good experience? As tempting as it may seem to do it for or because of someone else, the decision is yours, and you need to be ready. Remember that deciding to have surgery is a huge step and one that requires a great deal of thought and vulnerability. However, you must work hard after surgery to lose weight and maintain a new, lower weight. Without the proper internal motivation, this isn’t easy.

Do You Think It’s an Easy or Fast Way to Lose Weight?

Like the above, believing that weight loss surgery is the easy or quick way to lose weight set you up for failure. Obesity is a lifelong struggle, and bariatric surgery is simply a tool to put you on the right track when other options have failed. If you consider this the easy way out or choose bariatric surgery out of desperation and not because you’re fully committed to the process, you make it that much harder to succeed.

The Bottom Line

Bariatric surgery is as much a mental and psychological shift as a physical one. One of the best things you can do is sit down with the people who will be a part of your post-bariatric life, like your bariatric surgeon, close family and friends, and other bariatric patients, to discuss the mindset needed to be successful. Hearing the good and the bad and keeping an open mind allows you to make a more informed decision about your health and wellness in the future.

As bariatric surgeons, the last thing we want to see is a patient who is not ready for surgery rolling into our operating room. On the flip side, there’s nothing more gratifying than seeing patients who have dedicated themselves to changing their lives and following our tried and proven process to do so, usually with incredible and life-changing success.

To begin, watch our online seminar, which will allow you to learn more about the ins and outs of bariatric surgery and whether it is right for you. From there, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Higa and learn more about whether the bariatric surgery process is right for you.