Weight loss surgery: fact vs. fiction

Nutrition and Weight Management
Woman speaking with a doctor in an office.

Whether you've decided to undergo gastric bypass or another form of weight loss surgery, you've taken a brave step toward improving your health and quality of life. However, it's important to continue learning about any procedure you're considering.

Weight loss surgery might not be as straightforward as you think it is, but let's dispel some myths that surround the procedures. Read on to separate fact from fiction so you can move forward confidently towards your health goals.

What is weight loss surgery?

Gastrointestinal surgery for obesity, called weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery, alters the digestive process to achieve weight loss along with addressing obesity as a disease and the health issues related to it.

It provides a "tool" that helps people lose weight long term while minimizing and/or resolving medical conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Reflux
  • High cholesterol

"Weight loss surgery is a courageous decision taken to better your health and quality of life. However, it's essential to learn as much as you can about the procedure to make sure you're making the best decision for your health," says Richard D. Ing, MD, medical director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Main Line Health and a board-certified surgeon with specialized fellowship training in minimally invasive surgery.

Weight loss surgery misconceptions

"Keep in mind that there's little risk of losing 'too much weight' after bariatric surgery. It just is not something we see," says Dr. Ing. The aim is to ensure a healthy body mass index with a long-term commitment to nutritious food, exercise and mental health.

Still, there are stigmas and misconceptions that surround the procedure. Some of these include:

Myth: It's a shortcut to lose weight

There's a common misconception that weight loss surgery is a short cut for attaining results without putting in any effort. However, weight loss surgery requires diligence, a positive support system and an ongoing commitment to healthy habits.

Also, keep in mind that obesity isn't an indication of choice or negligence — it's a genetic disorder which results from various metabolic, physiological, environmental and psychological factors. Modern medical advances have substantially diminished the risks of the procedure and its major complications.

"Once you've successfully completed weight loss surgery, it's important to keep following a nutritious diet, regular exercise and pay heed to emotional wellness to ensure a stable, healthy weight in the long run," says Dr. Ing. With a lifetime of commitment after the surgery, this decision certainly isn't a short cut to losing weight.

Myth: It can cause infertility

It's also a popular notion that obesity is correlated to infertility. In reality, however, the right kind of weight loss surgery has been shown to increase fertility, improving the chances of a successful pregnancy.

"If you're considering starting a family after bariatric surgery, we recommend waiting one year after surgery before beginning the process," says Dr. Ing. "Your care team can guide you on your journey in a way that supports your overall health."

Myth: It's a form of plastic surgery

Weight loss surgery should not be mistaken for plastic surgery, which is performed solely for aesthetic reasons.

While it's true that weight loss surgery assists you in achieving weight loss, those looking for additional body contouring should wait until they've lost their desired amount of weight before considering a plastic surgery procedure.

Weight loss surgery at Main Line Health

Having a robust support system throughout your journey is essential in making sure that your goals around bariatric surgery and weight loss are met.

Our Comprehensive Weight and Wellness Program provides coordinated preoperative care through long-term and post-op follow up care. All the surgeries and procedures are performed by our board- certified experienced bariatric surgeons.

"From medical weight loss to surgery, there are options available to you," says Dr. Ing. "And whatever your weight loss goals are, we're here to help you achieve them."

Next steps:

Schedule an appointment with a weight loss specialist
Learn more about weight and wellness at Main Line Health
What you should know about different types of weight loss surgery