The Truth About Weight-loss Surgery

Mama June has recently made headlines for her tremendous weight-loss. She is the newest celebrity to add her name to the list of people attributing their weight-loss to bariatric surgery. Other celebrities on the list include Star Jones, Randy Jackson and Al Rocker. These celebrities make it look easy; obese one day, thin the next. But what happens in between the before and after picture? The public has a perception of weight-loss surgery as the ‘easy’ way out, the ‘quick fix’ for obesity. However, research shows, that while the results may happen fast, there is nothing easy about undergoing weight-loss surgery.

Here is what the women of The View had to say about Mama June’s recent weight-loss.

Discussions like these lead to more questions rather than answers. Weight-loss surgery is more than just a before and an after. It is an entire journey. Here are some misconceptions and facts about weight-loss surgery.

People who undergo weight-loss surgery are lazy.

Wrong! Americans are constantly trying to lose weight, but many are failing at the attempt. People are not overweight because they are lazy. American culture makes it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. An estimated 34.2% of U.S adults aged 20 years and older are overweight, 33.8% are obese, and 5.7% are extremely obese (Nardulli, 2012). Once a person reaches the point of obesity it is very difficult to get back down to a healthy weight and maintain that weight. Obesity is a chronic disease that presents significant challenges for treatment long term. For lifestyle interventions, only 20% of people attempting weight loss can achieve and maintain 5% weight loss over a year (Stoklossa & Atwal, 2013).

Surgery is a quick fix for rapid weight-loss.

Wrong! Surgery should not be viewed as a cure, or quick fix. Instead, it is a tool to help get someone to their weight-loss goal. Diet and exercise are still important components to overall success. Patients must adhere to a strict nutritional regimen to ensure safety and success. Also, patients who undergo surgery must consider the risks of surgery as well. When examining a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, the perioperative and postoperative mortality rates are 0.29% and 0.34%, respectively, with complication rates of 13%.14,23 Rare complications occur in the early postoperative period. Serious complications include difficult-to-remedy proximal leaks (4.9%) and bleeding from the long gastric staple line (2.4%) Most complications occur in the late postoperative period. These include gastroesophageal reflux (23%), vomiting (18%), gastric tube stricture (2.3%;), stenosis (2.4%), leak (2.4%), incisional hernia (2.4%), gastrocutaneous fistula, and weight regain (Ma & Madura, 2015).

The Doctors discuss the science behind bariatric surgery.

Does insurance cover weight-loss surgery?

This is often determined by the individual insurance company. Some companies will cover the cost without issue. The easiest way to get covered is through the recommendation of a doctor. However, this does not always mean the insurance company will cover the cost. Coverage is determined on a case by case basis so individuals interested in undergoing weight-loss surgery should check with their insurance carriers.  The cost of the surgery, without complications, is approximately $13,000 dollars (Nardulli, 2012).

Is weight-loss the only benefit of surgery?

No! Quality of life and reduction of comorbidities are other major reasons why individuals seek surgical intervention. Obesity contributes to approximately 300,000 premature deaths each year because of health-related complications (Agala, 2017). Obese individuals often suffer from a variety of comorbidities that negatively impact their overall health and well-being. Some comorbidities include hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea and hyperlipidemia. Those who are overweight also suffer from psychological issues like anxiety and depression (Parks, 2015).

Who qualifies for weight-loss surgery?

  1. A person with a BMI ≥ 40, or more than 100 pounds overweight.
  2. A person with a BMI ≥35 and at least two obesity-related comorbidities.
  3. Inability to achieve a healthy weight loss sustained for a period of time with prior weight loss efforts (Agala, 2017).

The Doctors discuss another celebrity who had great results with bariatric surgery.

Weight-loss surgery is not a quick fix, it is a journey. It is not as simple as the media portrays it to be. It is a choice for a better, healthier lifestyle!


Agala, R. A., Almusaiad, S. M., Alsufi, A. M., Aldhiafah, Z. A., Muzaffar, A. H., Al Ghamdi, S. S., & … Alaeq, R. A. (2017). A Critical Review on Risks versus Benefits of Bariatric Surgery. Egyptian Journal Of Hospital Medicine, 279-284

Ma, I. T., & Madura II, J. A. (2015). Gastrointestinal Complications After Bariatric Surgery. Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 11(8), 526-535.

Nardulli, J. A. (2012). The Road to Health Is a Battle Hard Fought: Support for Requiring Coverage of Bariatric Surgery for an Expanded Group of Qualified Individuals. Journal Of Legal Medicine33(3), 399-415.

Park, J. (2015). The meanings of physical appearance in patients seeking bariatric surgery. Health Sociology Review24(3), 242-255.

Stoklossa, C. J., & Atwal, S. (2013). Nutrition Care for Patients with Weight Regain after Bariatric Surgery. Gastroenterology Research & Practice, 1-7.