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Weight Loss Expectations:

Deciding to undergo bariatric surgery is one of the most important decisions a patient will make for their long-term health. However, one of the considerations that must be made when evaluating the option of bariatric surgery is the expectations that the patient has for weight loss and disease resolution after surgery.

Weight loss expectations can vary drastically from patient to patient, and much depends on the level of understanding of the procedure or procedures they may be considering. Further, what may be considered a successful procedure from a clinical or surgical standpoint, may or may not be considered successful by the patient. As a general rule, bariatric surgeons will focus first and foremost on the improvement and resolution of medical problems over the number of pounds lost. Depending on the procedure and patient’s progress and commitment after surgery, that number may be relatively low or high.

The patient must understand that a great deal of their weight-loss success will come as a result of the willingness and ability to change their lifestyle after surgery. Diet and exercise patterns will have to change significantly and patients must be willing to commit to significant lifestyle changes. Weight loss surgery is not a magic bullet and, on its own, will not produce ideal weight loss. As such, the results of weight loss surgery can vary widely between procedures and between patients. Gastric bypass and duodenal switch patients should expect the greatest weight loss after surgery, while gastric sleeve patients can also expect excellent results. Gastric banding patients should temper their expectations in comparison, as results vary widely.1

Similarly, those patients who are ready and willing to make significant changes in their health and well-being through diet and exercise should expect a substantial benefit from weight loss surgery versus those who may not commit fully to the recommended aftercare program. Expectations are always difficult to manage in bariatric surgery, therefore each patient will undergo physical and psychological assessments before the weight loss procedure is performed. Doing so provides more realistic expectations for both safety and effectiveness. Additionally, results from the physical and psychological assessments will offer the surgical practice some form of assurance that the patient is ready and willing to undertake this life-changing commitment.

1 Buchwald H, Avidor Y, Braunwald E, et al. Bariatric surgery. A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA. 2004;292:1724-1737.

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