Misconceptions of bariatric surgery

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

By: Betsy Hansen

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According to the World Health Organization, in 2005 there were about 1.6 billion overweight adults and at least 400 million obese adults worldwide. Surgeon Dr. Daniel T. McKenna is specialized in bariatric surgery and passionate about educating the community on the implications of obesity.


“A great problem is that obesity is seen as a socially acceptable form of aging,” Dr. McKenna said. In reality, obesity is a condition that can cause serious health risks and diseases. Stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, chronic pain and mental illnesses are just a handful of the myriad of problems that can result from being overweight.


Bariatric surgery can help with all of the problems listed above and more. But what are the common misconceptions the public may have about this surgery? Dr. McKenna helped us expose the myths.


McKenna quote


Myth: It’s very risky.


Every surgery presents risk. That being said, this is not an “easy fix” to obesity.


Dr. McKenna understands how debilitating the weight loss process is. “It’s astounding how much money and time some of my patients have spent on other weight loss techniques.”


“It’s not so risky that patients should choose not to have it. They are in the hospital 1-3 days and in 2-5 weeks they are back to work,” he said. Patients must assess the pros and cons of bariatric surgery. Dr. McKenna believes that the benefits outweigh the risks of not losing the weight.


Myth: It only helps you lose weight.


You may lose more than just excess weight. Yes, bariatric surgery has a significant impact on weight loss. However, with that weight loss comes the easing of other conditions such as sleep apnea, acid reflux and even diabetes.  Are you a type II diabetic? Bariatric surgery can improve the way your body metabolizes glucose and, in some patients, can eliminate diabetes. Learn more here.


Myth: You can eat anything you want after surgery.


If you want to change your life, you have to change your ways. Your eating habits will have to change. While working with your surgeon and a dietician, you will learn how to eat for sufficient energy and how to make healthy choices. Patients will want to stick to a protein-rich diet and seriously limit carbohydrates. “You will eat less, but more of the right foods. Your ability to taste food will change, your preferences will change, and you are not hungry anymore,” added Dr. McKenna.


You will also need daily vitamins and supplements for the rest of your life, such as vitamin D, calcium, iron, and vitamin B-12 and possibly vitamin A.


Exercise is also a vital part of continuing weight management.

  • Dr. McKenna recommends 150 minutes of activity per week
  • Mix up aerobic, weight lifting and flexibility exercises
  • Water exercises are great alternatives for patients with joint issues

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Myth: It’s a solo battle.


Wrong. This is a team effort between your physicians, your dietician, your counselor, yourself, and your family and friends. Dr. McKenna stresses the importance of solid relationships during this life-changing event. “A lot of emotions go along with bariatric surgery. They need a support system.” Patients that are going through or have recently gone through break ups or divorces are not ideal candidates for bariatric surgery.


Another benefit to a team-approach: accountability. How do you act when you know someone is going to check in on you? Odds are you are going to do your best. This is a major change that deserves your full effort and attention.


Dr. McKenna does remind us that in the end, the results are up to you. “My team and I did the surgery to help them change their own life.”


Are you interested in changing your life with bariatric surgery? We can help you. Call us or request an appointment online here.

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BayCare Clinic,, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It is based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, with more than 100 physicians serving in 16 area communities. BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a 167-bed, full-service hospital. Follow BayCare Clinic on Facebook and Twitter.