Is Weight Loss Surgery Cheating?

I’m absolutely astounded when I hear somebody state that “Yeah, she lost a lot of weight, but she cheated! She had surgery!”

Two thoughts come to mind.

  1. Fatties can’t win. Losing weight isn’t good enough to make them socially acceptable to the fatty-haters.

  2. They get judged on the way they lost weight. There is apparently a good and honorable way to lose weight – the old fashioned way through diet and exercise. And there is the cheating way – bariatric surgery.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

I can’t stop myself from asking, “You’re kidding, right? We’re talking about major surgery. Anesthesia! A big incision, messing with internal organs!

Then there’s the healing process not to mention some unpleasant side effects that may result from the surgery. And finally, the patient still has to commit to healthier eating and exercising habits to lose weight and keep it off.

What makes that cheating?”

There’s a risk of death. According to WebMD the risk is significant.

“It turns out that the 1 in 500 or 1 in 200 risk of death that people are commonly quoted comes from the best surgeons,” says researcher David R. Flum, MD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Washington. “In fact, in the real world …the risk of dying within 30 days of surgery is about one in 50.

Flum’s study also showed that the long-term risk of death was much lower among those who had gastric bypass surgery compared with obese persons who did not.”

There are different procedures that bariatric surgeons perform to help patients lose weight. Some are less invasive. Some remove and rearrange your entire digestive system.

It does bother me that patients must consider what kind of bariatric surgery to have based on what their insurance company will cover. I think that’s a major flaw in our health care system. How is it that insurance companies get to call the shots for medical procedures? This should be between the patient and the surgeon.

Bariatric surgery is not cosmetic surgery!

This blog isn’t to describe the types of weight loss surgery and it’s not written to influence anybody to have or not to have surgery.

I write it in hopes that it will change the perception some people have about the people who undergo weight loss surgery.

  • They aren’t cheaters.

  • They aren’t weak and/or lazy.

  • They will work as hard as the people who diet and exercise to maintain the loss.

  • They need support, not stupid comments.

Often after surgery patients don’t know where to go to get support they need with behavior modification. Some clinics provide ongoing support through personal consultations and group support meetings. It’s highly recommended that patients participate in any and all programs their physicians offer. Some doctors’ relationship with the bariatric patient ends with release from the hospital.

Patients may want to consider Weight Watchers meetings. The Weight Watchers program provides a sound, scientific, and healthy food plan and the meetings reinforce the creation and adherence to daily routines to support a new and healthier lifestyle.

To anybody who’s ever thought that bariatric surgery is the cheater’s way to lose weight, I hope you reconsider your opinion. Surgery is a necessary medical intervention. It is not made lightly.

Surgeons don’t perform gastric bypasses to help patients “cheat at weight loss!”

 To all the bariatric surgery patients reading this, I wish you a lifetime of healthy, happy weight management.




Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.