How Effective Is Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery?

For qualified individuals, bariatric surgery is the most effective way to lose weight and improve obesity-related conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Here’s what you need to know about long-term bariatric surgery success.

The data on bariatric surgery’s effectiveness speaks for itself: according to a Journal of American Medical Association Surgery study, the average person’s body mass index at five years post-bariatric surgery is 12 to 17 points lower than at the time of his or her operation. Another study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, reports that many people with severe type 2 diabetes are able to either stop taking insulin and other medications or reduce the doses necessary to manage their condition by the three-year mark following surgery.

Beyond the realm of disease management, research indicates that people see up to a 95 percent improvement in the quality of their lives. To achieve these results, however, you must remain committed to your new lifestyle.

A Course in Motivation
Finding the inspiration necessary to maintain a healthy post-surgery diet and exercise routine is one of the most challenging aspects of weight loss. The following tips help pave the way for success by addressing old habits and banishing negativity.

  • Seek support. Talking with others experiencing similar situations provides encouragement and serves as a helpful reminder that you’re not alone. Talk to your doctor about finding a support group designed for people who have undergone bariatric surgery.
  • Identify healthier ways to deal with your emotions. People frequently use food to celebrate happy occasions and alleviate negative feelings. Instead of turning to food when you’re having a bad day, call a close friend or perform a stress-relieving exercise, such as yoga. Serve as the driving force for healthier family celebrations by bringing a nutritious dish for everyone to sample and encouraging active family events. Keep in mind, however, that treats will always be part of most celebrations – and you can enjoy them as long as you do so in moderation.
  • Don’t demand perfection. Feelings of failure if you overindulge or miss a workout, especially when coupled with discouragement if the image in the mirror doesn’t yet live up to your supermodel expectations, can derail your efforts. Think positively about your accomplishments and the great strides you’re taking toward better health. If you’ve lost as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight, you’re already reaping weight-loss rewards. Simply recommit to your meal plan if you slip, and consider speaking with your doctor if you feel badly about your body image or have trouble adjusting to your lifestyle.
  • Find a tangible way to log your progress. As time passes, the dramatic results you observed after surgery may begin to slow. If you’re not seeing the same results, you may feel like weight loss is no longer worth the effort. Weigh yourself weekly and mark your progress on a calendar, or consider starting a photo journal that includes a pre-op photo and photos taken every month after surgery. These progress monitors provide a quick glimpse at how far you’ve come and deliver the dose of motivation needed to keep going.