Doctors Often Fail to Recommend Bariatric Surgery as Treatment for Morbid Obesity -My Bariatric Life

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • Things are getting better with regard to attitudes about gastric bypass surgery, but there are still a number of concerns.

    Twenty years ago researchers found that 80% of bariatric surgery patients reported being treated with a lack of respect by medical professionals because of their obesity. An additional study done ten years later showed that the number of people who reported being treated with a lack of respect had decreased to 13%. Although the improvement was substantial, the overall percentage remained high. Attitudes about weight-loss surgery are now much better, although roadblocks remain.

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    Primary Care Physicians Do Not Have The Resources to Address Obesity

    While an overwhelming majority of primary care physicians believe it is their responsibility to counsel patients about obesity, 72% of the 290 primary care physicians who were surveyed admitted that there was no person in their practice that had been trained to address the issue of obesity.

    It has been discovered that while physicians often recommend that their patients lose weight, they do not often make recommendations as to how this can be done.

    In addition, researchers have found that 70% of clinically obese people do not receive a diagnosis of obesity from their primary care doctors unless there is a associated medical condition such as high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol levels. And 63% do not receive any counseling from their doctors.

    Further studies have shown that half of all practicing physicians do not think they are qualified to treat obesity at all.

    Poor Communication Between Doctors and the Weight-Loss Surgery Community

    Although bariatric surgery is the most successful treatment for morbid obesity, only one in ten who have weight-loss surgery do so because their doctor recommended it. Physicians often withhold recommendation because they falsely believe that patients who are morbidly obese would be embarrassed to make conversation about their conditions.

    In a recent survey, 7 out of 10 gastric bypass patients stated that they were first to initiate conversation with their doctors about obesity. Physicians believe that it is one out of every five patients who first initiate conversation about obesity.

    Another reason for limited recommendations by doctors for gastric bypass surgery is fear of surgery complications although risk factors for bariatric surgery are about the same as many common surgical procedures.

    The Need to Educate Primary Care Physicians About Bariatric Surgery

    The weight-loss community wants to establish a dialogue with primary care physicians to better serve those individuals who need bariatric surgery. Such a partnership would permit personal care physicians to better advocate for gastric bypass candidates as well as provide enhanced pre and post surgery care.

    Doctors need to understand that conversation with patients about weight-loss surgery may be welcomed by the patient as opposed to being a topic of embarrassment.

    Doctors also should be aware that bariatric surgery is a life saving procedure and that the risk of such surgery is no greater than that of gall bladder surgery.

  • When a more meaningful interaction is cemented between primary care physicians and the weight-loss community, the patient, the doctor, and the surgeon will all share the benefits.

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    What about you? Has your doctor discussed your obesity with you? Did your doctor recommend weight-loss surgery? My physician did not approach the topic of bariatric surgery with me. When I finally brought it up to him, he said many of his patients had had it and lost a lot of weight. This left me wondering why he had never suggested it as a treatment for me. I wished that he had because maybe I would have had the surgery sooner.


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    My Story...

    You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.

Published On: April 17, 2012