The 3 Most Common Myths of Bariatric Surgery

In Sacramento, CA

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This is why many people turn to bariatric surgery / weight loss surgery. Discovering the benefits of bariatric surgery can be life-changing, but myths often cloud the path. Whether considering sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, or any other option, debunking these myths is critical to help those who need it most.

Sadly, some myths about bariatric surgery persist, even from our own medical providers. These misconceptions often stem from the stigma our society holds towards people suffering from obesity, rather than the objective data doctors are trained to rely on.

Let’s make one thing clear, bariatric surgery and bariatric care is not the right route for everyone looking to lose weight. With that said, those with morbid obesity deserve judgment-free facts to make their own informed decision. Let’s break free from societal bias and empower ourselves with credible information.

Let’s break the stigma: We don’t judge those facing health conditions like cancer or heart disease, recognizing their complexity with genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and behavioral factors. It’s time we extend the same understanding to those suffering from the disease of morbid obesity.

Whether you chose to undergo weight loss surgery and bariatric care or not, arming yourself with accurate, stigma free information is key. Remember, this decision belongs to you, and you alone.

Time to unveil the truth and debunk the Top 3 Most Common Myths of Bariatric Surgery… 



Myth 1:  Bariatric Surgery is “unsafe” or “dangerous”

Risks exist with bariatric surgery. Risks also exist without it.

How do you decide what is best for you?

In partnership with your healthcare provider, you should discuss what is the best solution for your situation. A simplistic way of going about this is to:

  1. Research & review the data
  2. Evaluate your current health condition & co-morbidities
  3. Weigh the risks of having bariatric surgery vs not having it
  4. Decide what is best route for improving your health and ultimately your life

*Make sure the healthcare provider you are speaking with is up to date with the data and really listens to you. If he/she is not supportive, do not be afraid to schedule an informational appointment with a bariatric provider specifically. The best bariatric providers are passionate about providing useful information and just want to help.


Risks of Bariatric Surgery

Complication rates for bariatric surgery is about 3.5-4%.

What are the top 3 most common complications from having bariatric surgery in the US?

  • Leak            |   (about 1.25%)
  • Blood Clot |   (about 1.25%)
  • Infection    |   (about 1.25%)

Total Average Risk of Complication:   About 3.5-4%

Some of these complications may require a re-operation some may not, depending on the patient, and the specific complication. Now, more importantly, what is the death rate of patients undergoing bariatric surgery in the United States?

Bariatric surgery or weight loss surgery is sometimes labeled as ‘unsafe,’ without specific data to back this claim.

Let’s not only uncover the numbers but stack them up against with other common procedures:


Death rate for Bariatric Surgery in the United States:

  • Reported Averages: .08%-.5%

Death rate for Hip Replacement Surgery in the United States:

  • Reported Averages: .3%-.65%

Death rate for Gallbladder Surgery in the United States:

  • Reported Averages: .1%-.7%


Comparably, bariatric surgery may not seem like a big risk; however, it is still essential to acknowledge there are risks. This is why getting as healthy as possible before any operation is important.

You as a patient can do something about these risks. Lowering visceral & abdominal fat before bariatric surgery improves visibility for the surgeon operating on you, therefore lowering your risks associated with having bariatric surgery.

We now understand the more serious risks of having bariatric surgery.

Are there risks in not opting for bariatric surgery for those suffering with morbid obesity?


Risks from not having Bariatric Surgery

Studies reveal that individuals with morbid obesity who opt out of bariatric care:

  • Die 6-12 years early

While those who opt in for bariatric surgery experience:

  • Reduction of premature death by 30-50%

But surely some people succeed without bariatric care. Yes, this is true.

How likely are you to succeed without bariatric care & bariatric surgery?

Long-term success rate for people suffering from morbid obesity who do not seek bariatric care:

  • 1-5% success rate (using diet & exercise)

If this is the case, there must be a high percentage of individuals suffering from morbid obesity seeking bariatric care, right? No, unfortunately, that is not the case. Only about 1% of people who qualify for bariatric care are actually receiving it.

Why is that? Stigma.

Practitioners, who have dedicated their life fighting obesity, believe that people suffering with this disease should not be the last group society feels it’s somehow okay to marginalize. This is simply unacceptable and we must work to end this.

Shockingly, being overweight or obese was associated to nearly 1 in 5 deaths (18.2%) in the U.S. from 1986-2006, as revealed in a study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Beyond the data, what about quality of life. We only live once.

If you lack the confidence to get out of the house,

If you are without the energy to connect with those you love,

If you are starved of the willpower needed to break out of your comfort zone,

Then you are not truly living the life we all deserve.

“Don’t let others’ opinions stand in the way of your decision to better yourself.”



Myth 2:  Bariatric Surgery is the “easy way out” or a “quick fix

For those seeking a quick and easy fix, bariatric care isn’t the answer. Some may simplify bariatric care as, “A surgery that makes people lose weight.” And yes, people do travel to Mexico to just have the surgery associated with bariatric care. However, that has nothing to do with what true bariatric care really is. Often, the worst version of something is often used as an explanation when there is a lack of knowledge on a particular subject. This is what a big part of society has done with bariatrics.

So, what is bariatric care?

Bariatric care is the closest thing we have to a ‘cure’ for morbid obesity. Bariatric care also acts as a treatment, or prevention from its associated conditions:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Joint Problems (Osteoarthritis)
  • Certain Cancers (Breast, colorectal, kidney)
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders (GERD, IBS, etc.)
  • Cardiovascular Disease (Hypertension & Coronary artery disease)

Bariatric Care  –  A comprehensive approach to health, well-being, and ultimately a treatment for morbid obesity resulting in a happier, longer, and more fulfilling life.

Sadly, in the minds of many, the average person & provider views bariatrics as:

Want to know the truth…

Having a surgery to lose weight is not bariatric care.

Want to know a secret? The people who dedicate their lives to helping people fight the disease of obesity hate the misconception above. Why? Because it’s a complete inaccurate description of what they do.

Want to know what bariatric care actually means for a patient?

Going through an 18-month highly integrated program involving, but not limited to:

  • Preparation
  • Education
  • Lab Testing
  • Sleep Testing
  • Psychological Evaluation
  • Lifestyle Changes
  • Goal Setting
  • Behavior Modification
  • Exploring Relationship with Food
  • Exploring Relationship with Exercise/Movement
  • Personalized Supplementation Plan – Based on Lab testing
  • Exploring ACE’s – Adverse Childhood Experiences

This is all while receiving:

  • Medical Support & Guidance
  • Nutritional Support & Guidance
  • Psychological Support & Guidance
  • Peer-to-Peer Support & Guidance
  • Doctor-Patient Relationship & Guidance


And yes, the above often entails a bariatric surgery, but not always.

If your center does not integrate all of this, it is not true bariatric care, it’s something else. In summary, bariatric surgery is just one small piece of what true bariatric care really is.

All of this may feel overwhelming for prospective patients. Don’t worry, most programs have this broken down into a systematic, step by step process where you focus on one thing at a time with an entire support team around you!

Our program breaks this up easily for the patients:


The 4-Phases of Bariatric Transformation

Where all the above modalities are specifically placed in each respective phase. This process is hardly ‘easy’ or ‘quick;’ however, it is certainly doable, especially if you choose a quality bariatric center.

About 250,000 people per year in the United States are going through their very own bariatric journey. Do not tell yourself, “I won’t be able to do it.” Do not think you are the exception to the majority succeeding with this treatment. With the right support and mindset, you can be one of the many each year who completely transform their lives!

With that said, looking at the surgery itself as ‘the fix,’ is not the right way to look at it. Although most people think they are going in for the surgery, as you now know, it’s just one piece of the bariatric puzzle.

Here are some of the other main factors, we call:


The 5 Tenets of Bariatric Care



These represent the many important areas you will cover to become a bariatric success.

Remember, the true goal of bariatric care is not weight loss. The weight loss is simply an after effect of your body getting healthier. Of course, you will lose a lot of weight during the bariatric process, but it is important to remember why that is.

The ultimate goal for bariatric care is a longer, happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

The people who remember this key difference are the ones that tend to do the best.

A commonality trait among successful bariatric patients:

  • They work extremely hard before the surgery and look at the pre-surgery phase as just as important, if not more important, than the post-surgery phase.



Myth 3:  I will regain all my weight back after bariatric surgery

Patients lose most of their weight in the 12-18 months following bariatric surgery.

  • Patients may lose 55% of excess weight 6-months post-surgery
  • Patients may lose 77% of excess weight as early as 12-months post-surgery
  • Patients on average maintain 50% excess weight loss 5-years post-surgery

*Centers of Excellence frequently maintain a higher excess weight loss 5 years post-op  


With lifestyle changes, improved eating, increased activity levels, and weight loss surgery, this creates improved health and consequently, weight loss. This ultimately leads to many improvements in obesity-related conditions for bariatric patients.



Some of the Health Benefits of Bariatric Care

Photo Source: American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery


Many people will look at the 50% average excess weight loss 5-years post-surgery and think, “But, I want something better.” Nobody ever puts this data into perspective:

  • If you try with diet and exercise you have a 1-5% long term success rate
  • Which means you are 16x more likely to lose the weight and keep it off with bariatrics

Also, remember this is just an average. If you select the right center, believe it or not, you can drastically increase this likelihood of success.


The Bariatric Center You Choose Can Make the Difference

Wondering if the choice of your bariatric center/practice matters? Absolutely, opt for the best in the U.S. – Certified Centers of Excellence through American College of Surgeons.

At Centers of Excellence, their patients can exceed 80% excess body weight loss, maintained 5+ years after surgery. As you can see, your success can be radically increased by what Bariatric Doctor you choose.

  • This means you are more than 26x more likely to lose the weight and keep it off with bariatrics when you choose the right center


If you are having a hard time picking a center check out our article on:

The 6 Key Factors for Choosing the Best Bariatric Surgery Center

However, you should not take our word for it, or any outside opinion when it comes to bariatric care or bariatric surgery. Take the word of the people who have actually had bariatric surgery and bariatric care.

How can you do that?

Check out Real Self.

This is a fabulous website where patients can go and review the surgery or medical procedure they have had. Look at how bariatric patients review their bariatric surgery:

Reading through these reviews, seeing the transformations, and learning more about bariatric care and weight loss surgery through Real Self, should help paint a more complete, objective, and honest picture from the people who have actually done it.

With any big decision in our life, it’s easy to get stuck in researching on your own. However, it’s very easy to get stuck in this step and take no further action. Do not go on this journey alone even if you are just in the research phase. Seek out the best bariatric doctor in your area and see if this could be a good treatment for you. Remember, getting more information is not a decision on surgery!



If you are considering bariatric surgery or bariatric care, make sure you are deciding based on credible information. We live in a day where fact and opinion are not well delineated. This is why finding the best bariatric institution in your area and telling them upfront “I’m simply here to learn and seek more information,” is the best way to go!

If you’re interested in learning more give us a call & ask about our: Bariatric Informational Seminar!



Bariatric Informational Seminar:

Learn more today! Attend our Informational Bariatric Seminar. The best no pressure way to learn more about bariatric care. Maybe bariatrics is right for you, or maybe it isn’t, either way you won’t find that out online. So, if you are considering bariatric care at all, we encourage you to contact our office to schedule a Bariatric Informational Seminar.

This is an informal, no pressure meeting where we will go over the benefits, myths, and most important factors of great bariatric care. Dr. Steve Patching will be there to answer any questions you have and help you decide if bariatric surgery is right for you. You will be joined by your peers also wanting to learn more about the process. Let us figure this it out together! Give us a call or request an appointment below.

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About the Author:


Dr. Steve Patching

  • Bariatric Medical Director | Advanced Robotic & Bariatric Surgeon
  • 1st Bariatric Center in the US Certified by ASMBS
  • Former Chief of Surgery
  • Bariatric Center of Excellence
  • Founder, The Bariatric Wellness Program

Should You Seek Bariatric Care:

Are you still having a hard time understanding if bariatric care is right for you? The first thing to remember is you do not need to make the decision on the surgery now. Do not let any center make you feel pressured. This is not a sprint, and it should go at the pace you are comfortable with not theirs. Right now, it’s your job to simply gather more information from the experts in your area. Go from researching online to speaking with a bariatric program in person. This is exactly why we created the Bariatric Informational Seminar.

Learn more about the most comprehensive, successful Bariatric Wellness Program in Sacramento and Bay Area. This program is designed specifically for people who are ready to transform their lives through lasting improved health & weight loss. Led by the most experienced bariatric surgeon in Sacramento, Dr. Steve Patching.

Join Our Bariatric Family

Article Resources & References

Bariatric Surgery References:



Chances of dying from bariatric surgery vs chances of dying from obesity

Bariatric Resources & Information


Perioperateive mortality in bariatric surgery: meta-analysis

The impact of obesity on US mortality levels

Hip Replacement Surgery References:


Mortality after total hip replacement surgery

Gallbladder Surgery References:


Mortality after a cholecystectomy.

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