As bariatric surgeons, one of the hardest expectations to manage before bariatric surgery is long-term weight loss potential. Of course, this is also the question we are asked most often. While we have procedure and practice-wide averages, the answer is not a straightforward one. Every patient is unique, and as a result, the weight loss that a patient should expect to achieve will vary. Variance can be minor or significant and is based on a person’s age, the procedure that they undergo, the success of the procedure and the ability and willingness for the patient to modify their lifestyle including diet and exercise after surgery. When speaking to your weight loss surgeon it is very important to discuss the various factors that will affect the outcome of the surgery, not least of which are your lifestyle responsibilities after surgery.
Bariatric surgery is not a magic bullet and it alone will not allow a patient to lose a significant amount of weight. Obesity, in many cases, is rooted in the psyche and years of overeating and under-exercising may have contributed to the weight problem. This is not reversed simply through surgery; rather a comprehensive lifestyle assessment and change must be implemented. No matter what procedure you choose to undergo, make sure that your expectations match your level of commitment to changing your lifestyle. While averages can be very helpful, many patients can lose more weight than the average. This is because they are willing to put in the extra effort and willpower to change their lives and their health for the better. Others may lose less than average, mostly because they’re unable or unwilling to stick to a new, modified diet and exercise regimen.
In the end, bariatric surgery is a wonderful tool to help patients lose weight and manage or eliminate many of the diseases associated with obesity. That said, the patient plays a large part in the ultimate success of the procedure, which makes expectations for weight loss a very important discussion between patient and surgeon.