A typical bariatric consultation scenario -
Patient – Doc, I am 45 year old, 136 kg, diabetic for last 3 years, high blood pressure for 10 years, I find it difficult to climb up steps and off late I have started feeling breathless on walking short distances.
Bariatric Surgeon – (After complete evaluation) – Ok, we need to conduct certain tests and of all is well then you will be a perfect candidate for a bariatric surgery. That is the only way which can help you to lose massive amount of weight upto the tune of 35 to 40 kg and you will be able to maintain it in future. It will also treat your blood pressure and diabetes.
Patient- Doc, but do you think a “liposuction” will help me?
One of the biggest myths about “bariatric surgery” is that a lot of people still confuse it with “cosmetic surgery”.Most patients do not know the difference between a liposuction, a tummy tuck and a bariatric surgery.
- Cosmetic surgery is an optional procedure that is performed on normal parts of the body with the only purpose of improving a person’s appearance and/or removing signs of aging.
Bariatric surgery is a life-saving option for people who are morbidly obese and promotes weight loss by changing the gastro-intestinal anatomy by the method of surgery.
- Liposuction and tummy tuck are not primary weight loss procedures and are mainly done for body sculpting. The maximum weight loss achieved safely after a liposuction is around 6 to 8 kg.Bariatric surgery is a primary weight loss procedure and helps to lose massive amounts of weight in the morbidly obese. Patients tend to lose anywhere between 20 to 100 kg depending on their starting weight.
- Cosmetic surgeries like liposuction and tummy tuck do not have any effect on type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, PCOD , heart disease and other problems associated with obesity.Bariatric surgery not only helps to lose weight but also leads to remission of associated co-morbidities especially type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, PCOD, heart disease, acid reflux, infertility and many more.
- Cosmetic surgery does not lead to a lifestyle change and the chances of weight regain within a short period of time are high.Bariatric surgery pushes the patient into a lifestyle change and alters the way they consume food. Chances of rebounding to initial weight are very low. Long term weight maintenance is easier after bariatric surgery.
- Cosmetic surgeries like liposuction and tummy tuck are long procedures and may take upto 8 hours of surgical time under anesthesia. The longer the operative duration, higher are the chances of ‘venous thromboembolism (clotting in leg veins)’.Bariatric surgery typically takes about 1 to 2 hours and the patients are made to walk on the same evening after the surgery.
- Cosmetic surgery is performed on healthy people mainly to make them look good.Bariatric surgery is performed on diseased people who are suffering from morbid obesity and multiple other co-morbidities. Looking good after bariatric surgery may be considered as a beneficial side effect.
Although cosmetic and bariatric surgery, are two completely different surgical procedures meant for entirely different populations, the confusion still persists. Stakeholders like insurance companies have used this confusion to their benefit by denying claims to thousands of patients by wrongly categorizing bariatric surgery as a cosmetic surgery. Recently the ‘medical council of India’ took a major corrective step and reclassified bariatric surgery as a ‘gastro-intestinal surgery’.
In conclusion, while cosmetic surgery is performed on a healthy person with the primary aim to enhance the looks of a person, bariatric surgery has proven health benefits and is performed on a diseased person. The two procedures are like chalk and cheese and must not be confused with each other.