Is weight loss surgery cheating?

Question Below Submitted By:  

Katrina (a patient from San Diego, California )


I’m struggling with second guessing myself about getting the gastric sleeve after my husband said “weight loss surgery is the easy way out.” Originally I decided to get the sleeve done and my husband (also overweight), was very supportive. He too was interested in getting it done, but after speaking with his friend who lost 70 pounds, he’s changed his mind. This friend encouraged him to diet and exercise instead, saying weight loss surgery is lazy.

I’m bothered that my husband says weight loss surgery is cheating, but I also think surgery is a good option to at least build some momentum toward weight loss. So far I’ve failed at trying to lose weight by eating right and getting back into the gym. I’m 90 pounds overweight.

Is there benefit in getting weight loss surgery instead of doing it naturally? Am I healthier if I just lose the weight without surgery? Any ideas on what I could tell my husband to maybe get him back onboard with my getting a gastric sleeve?

Thanks a lot,
Katrina Strasser
San Diego, California

Bariatric Surgery Source

Expert Responses to the Question Above

Surgeon response to "Is weight loss surgery cheating"

by: Dr. John Rabkin, MD

Dear Maria,

Your husband is mistaken: weight loss surgery (WLS) is most certainly not "lazy" or an "easy way out" for you or any other morbidly obese person to lose the weight that they need to in order to regain their health.

There is no disagreement that anyone who is able to lose the excess weight and keep it off through dietary changes and exercise without undergoing WLS should do so. Everybody should attempt weight loss without surgery initially; a few morbidly obese patients (possibly like your husband's friend) will succeed.

Unfortunately, for the overwhelming majority of morbidly obese patients, adequate, durable weight loss through diet and exercise alone is an impossibility: the medical/scientific data is very clear about that fact. Furthermore, the medical/scientific data is just as clear about the health benefits of WLS improving patients' health as well as life expectancy. WLS is simply a 'tool' that morbidly obese patients can employ to assist them in their very difficult efforts to lose the excess weight.

It is not common for relationships to factor into the decisions to get surgery, and there may be a multitude of reasons why your husband may not be supportive of your decision to proceed with surgery other than simply believing that it is the "easy way out." Often patients and their loved ones are worried about the possibility of complications (or even death) from WLS. Although there is is never a 'guarantee' that these adverse events won't happen, thankfully they are quite uncommon. The statistics are very clear as to the overall benefits out weighing the risks of having surgery once non-surgical attempts at weight loss have not been successful. Another consideration may be that your husband would feel uncomfortable in the event that you are able to lose the weight through surgery and he is unable to without the WLS which he (at least temporarily) has decided not to pursue.

I would discuss with your husband the importance to your health and survival of you undergoing the sleeve gastrectomy: share with him the facts discussed above and be as supportive of his desire to attempt non-surgical weight loss as he should be of your desire to proceed now with the WLS. Hopefully, as your partner in this journey, your husband will recognize that he should (and hopefully will) return the support out of respect and love for you.

John Rabkin, M.D.
Pacific Laparoscopy

(click here for Dr. Rabkin's full bio & contact info)

DISCLAIMER: This educational advice is based on the depth of your question and the details provided. The above should never replace the advice of your local physicians as they have the ability to evaluate you in person.

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