While bariatric surgery is considered the only known cure for obesity, producing results of excess body weight loss between 40-100%, it is only a tool – one piece of a very intricate puzzle. We hear that phrase used a lot when discussing bariatric surgery success – Surgery is only a tool. You must see your surgery as ONLY a tool. What does that mean? The definition of tool = a device or implement used to carry out a particular function. The function of bariatric surgery is to produce weight loss by means of restriction, malabsorption, or a combination of both. Bluntly, it means that after 12 to 24 months post op, you’re on your own. You need to adopt the lifestyle modifications during that time that will help you maintain the weight loss achieved by the aid of the tool = bariatric surgery.

Most experts agree that no matter the choice of bariatric surgery, a person’s body will adapt to the impact of restriction or malabsorption. The use of the surgery is maximized in the first 12 to 24 months following the procedure. The American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgeons (ASMBS) considers a weight loss procedure successful if a patient has maintained 50% excess body weight loss at 5 years post op. For someone who is 300lb overweight, that is equal to 150lb weight loss maintenance at post op year number 5. As an example, for a female that is 5’7 tall and 150lb over their ideal body weight of 148lb (making them 298lb at the time of surgery), the ASMBS considers their bariatric surgery a success if they weigh 223lb five years following their procedure.

For most persons choosing to undergo a bariatric procedure, their goal is to be a healthy, normal BMI after surgery. Key to long-term success after bariatric surgery is to learn proper diet and exercise habits that will maximize the effects of the surgery and help maintain the weight loss. It is proven that as little as 5-10% excess body weight loss has been proven to make significant improvements in a person’s overall health and wellness.

To be a bariatric surgery success, you need to set your mind frame for the long haul be prepared to exercise daily, make good food choices, and always utilize the support of your bariatric team.