It’s a Journey Not a Destination
By Collin E.M. Brathwaite, MD, FACS, FASMBS
These are wise words that we often hear in our lives, and we should take heed. The journey for weight loss is not what we “get to”. It is about taking a lifetime to travel through and maintain a healthy weight.
Bariatric Surgeons often talk to their patients about measurable and attainable number goals. We measure abdominal girths, calculate BMI’s and discuss excess weight percentages. I find this to be a bit misleading for the patient. I think it is better to look at the weight loss after bariatric surgery, regardless of which procedure, as a continuum of care, rather than a finite number patients need to attain.
Patients are excited at the initial consultation to discuss how much weight they can potentially lose, which is appropriate, but keeping the proper perspective is vital. We do anticipate that a patient can lose between 50-70% of their excess weight, but the focus should not be on the numbers. It also neglects the concept of bariatric surgery as a treatment for metabolic syndrome. Resolution of comorbid conditions and a healthy lifestyle are the ultimate goal. Is there really a difference between losing 100 pounds versus 105? Not as long as the Diabetes or Obstructive Sleep Apnea is resolved.
I have found that many patients have a specific number goal that they are striving to attain. They become aggravated to find that they are leveling out at 5 pounds more that that goal. Does this mean that they are not successful? Again, the answer is no, as long as the patient has lost a significant amount of weight and is leading a healthier lifestyle by exercising and eating right. After all, changing the behaviors that lead to the morbid obesity ensures that the patient will never again have to endure a journey filled with frustration and weight regain.