Bariatric surgery is sort of having a moment in TV: The character Kate on This Is Us is contemplating bariatric surgery in her plot line, and Mama June's new weight loss show is tied specifically to her journey before and after weight loss surgery. While these depictions are helping to de-stigmatize the surgeries and clarify what the different ones are, bariatric surgery is pretty complex. You're not going to have all your questions answered by a show, or an article for that matter, but there are some points that are worth considering. Like, you know, what is it?
"Bariatric surgery is weight loss surgery," says Jenny Choi, MD, director of bariatric surgery at Montefiore Medical Center.
The other big one: Is bariatric surgery right for me? Only you and your doctor can decide that. Technically, if someone has a BMI over 40, or a BMI of 35 and a health condition related to obesity, they are eligible, per the National Institute of Health guidelines. "Weight loss surgery is a life-altering surgery, so you have to be prepared for all the changes that come along with it," Dr. Choi says.
And surgery is by no means a vanity procedure people turn to when they want to make a change fast, she adds: "This isn't just because you ate too much, it's for people who are between a rock and a hard place and need to because their weight is putting other aspects of their health at risk." Ultimately, maintaining your health is a much more important goal than appearance.
Here's what you should know about the different types of bariatric surgeries, and what you can expect.