Bariatric Surgery: Is It The Cheats Alternative To Dieting?

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In the year 2000 if you had mentioned the words bariatric or weight loss surgery you most likely would have been met with a puzzled look and silence. Fast forward to 2010 and the situation is rather different. The public are very familiar with weight loss surgery and this is in part thanks to celebrities such as Sharon Osborne, Carnie Wilson, Diego Maradona and Fern Britton who have had bariatric surgeries including gastric banding and gastric bypass. However how these celebrities and their surgeries are viewed by the public is not always positive; many people have a misunderstanding of weight loss surgery and refer to it as the easy option or cheating.

Many people ask why not lose weight the old fashioned way and eat less and move more? Why do people need to have surgery when it should be as simple as reducing the amount of food eaten. There is of course no question that weight is related to food intake and energy expenditure but it is far more complex than simply reducing the amount of food eaten. Many obese people have a serious compulsion to eat foods however much they know the adverse effects. A leading professor of endocrinology suggests that telling people to use will power is like offering people 1 million if they can hold their breath for 10 minutes! The motivation is there but the bodys natural responses make it impossible.

So how do bariatric or weight loss surgeries make a difference? Toni Russo, Bariatric Nurse Consultant for Streamline Surgical says:
Operations are simply tools that enable people to eat less and / or absorb fewer calories. There is a misconception that weight loss surgeries allow you to eat large portions of anything that you like and the weight magically melts away. This is very untrue and weight loss surgery is really a tool that patients have to work with, it is by no means a quick fix. Many patients can struggle with the enforced changes to their diets after surgery and there is a period of adjustments. They have to consider nutrition and also accept that some foods may make them feel unwell, it is all about learning how to work with your surgery. Its certainly not an easy option

Guy Slater is a leading bariatric surgeon and star of TVs Fat Doctor series. He believes that his patients are often misunderstood:
Many of my patients are very unwell with obesity related conditions. They are often unhappy and feeling quite ashamed that they have allowed themselves to get to such a size as to consider a gastric bypass or gastric band. Many are very successful dieters and may have lost 8 or 9 stones in the past. They know how to do it and they have demonstrated amazing determination. They have simply been unable to sustain that loss and regain the weight.

Estelle (46) underwent a keyhole gastric band operation and has to date lost 6 stones:
Growing up outside Johannesburg, I almost feel was set up to fail from the start! Our whole culture was around wonderful and plentiful food. Until I was an adult I thought that all children ate meat twice a day, leaving food on the plate was frowned upon and I had no concept of hunger.

We played lots of sports and so I guess I burnt off those calories. Of course, once I went to university I did much less and the weight piled on. I married an English man and moved to the UK. The eating continued to such an extent that I dreaded the flights home as I was always cramped in the airplane seat and struggled to fasten the seatbelt. I knew it couldnt continue so I contacted Streamline Surgical after seeing Guy Slater on the Fat Doctor programme.

Since the surgery I havent looked back. I have to chew really well and have slowed down my eating but I really savour the flavour now and Im seldom hungry. It is by no means a cheat having a gastric band or an easy way out. I have had to work hard to keep my weight down and the band allows me to do this is a way that is sustainable. Regrets? Not one!
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