Q&A Topic: Debunking the Top 5 Myths About Surgical Weight Loss

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Mitchell S. Roslin, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Q. Myth or truth? You don’t need bariatric surgery—just diet and work out if you’re obese.

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A. Myth – obesity is probably one of the most misunderstood conditions in the world. It’s an energy-storage disease—a problem with the body’s central regulator. Obesity occurs when your body’s regulator is set too high, and that elevated “set-point” drives you to consume more food to produce the energy to meet this increased demand. Exercise and low-calorie diets are short-term changes that will make only a minimal difference. With bariatric surgery, we change your gastrointestinal tract and set-point, so you get full faster, feel less hungry, and therefore lose weight.

Q. Myth or truth? Bariatric surgery is dangerous.

A. Myth. It’s a mainstream procedure that is as safe as gall bladder or joint replacement surgery. Risks are minimal when compared to the complications of obesity, which include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, and dementia. It’s the best way to reset the body’s regulator, and in doing so it saves lives and improves the quality of life.

Q. Myth or truth? I’m too young/old for the surgery.

A. Obesity is a serious disease that impacts you physically and emotionally, no matter how old you are. For teens, obesity not only increases the risk of the health problems noted above, but it also affects mood, self-esteem, and ability to concentrate, get good grades, and even make friends. The good news is that surgical weight loss has been found to be very successful in adolescent patients, helping them physically, emotionally, and academically. The surgery is also safe and effective for obese patients in their older years, many of whom are functionally impaired, meaning they have radically limited their activities because of their condition. At Northern Westchester Hospital, I’ve had patients as old as 78.

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Q. Myth or truth? You can’t have children after weight-loss surgery.

A. This is a big myth. Actually, surgical weight-loss boosts fertility, because the leading cause of infertility in women is obesity. Polycystic ovary syndrome, a common cause of infertility, is associated with obesity. And obese pregnant women have a higher rate of miscarriage and diabetes.

Q. Myth or truth? After surgery, you’ll have a large scar, lose your hair, and may gain your weight back.

A. We do minimally invasive surgery through small ports, so scarring will be minimal – four to six tiny marks. As for hair loss, there’s some truth to this. Some patients undergo hormonal changes after surgery and might experience thinning hair, but you won’t go bald.
As for gaining weight back after surgery, the truth depends on the patient. If you have the surgery and refuse to develop healthier habits, it is possible that you’ll experience regain. That’s why it’s important to exercise regularly, three to five times per week and choose foods that make you feel full, don’t drive up your sugar level, have a lot of nutrition, and take longer to digest. At Northern Westchester Hospital, we have a registered bariatric dietitian who helps you stay on track with healthy eating. We also offer support groups to help patients make healthier decisions about eating, post-surgery.

Learn More about Dr. Roslin
Director, Bariatric Surgery
Northern Westchester Hospital
Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.

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Read Past Topics from Dr. Roslin:
Sleep Apnea and Obesity
Benefits of Weight-Loss Surgery
Metabolic Syndrome
Obesity, Weight Loss, and Bariatric Surgery
Obesity and Women’s Health
Men and Obesity
A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity
Thinking about Bariatric Surgery?

Learn more about the Center for Weight Management at Northern Westchester Hospital.

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