Dear Dr. Baskett: I am planning on having bariatric surgery. Should I tell my family and friends?
Dear Reader: That is something I cannot answer for you. The decision to tell family, friends and colleagues that you are going to have this surgery is a personal one. Some people will choose to tell only their closest family member (e.g. a spouse) and not their children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. They wish to keep this matter private. People don’t often want to tell others because they don’t want to be “watched” or “monitored” on their weight loss journey. They don’t want to hear “Why are you eating that?” or “You shouldn’t be eating that!” or “How much weight did you lose this week?” or “My sister lost a lot more weight than you after her surgery!”
Surgical patients also encounter those people that wish to give them advice about what they should eat or not and what they should be doing for exercise or not. Surgical patients have also shared the feeling, “If lots of people know that I have had bariatric surgery, and I regain my lost weight, they will think I am a failure.”
Another reason I hear that patients don’t want to share their decision to have bariatric surgery is the concern of getting the comment, “Oh, you are taking the easy way out.” Any patient who has had bariatric surgery has struggled with his/her weight for many preceding years and is often a pro at dieting. Surgery is a legitimate treatment option for the obese person. Anyone who has undergone bariatric surgery will tell you that it is not “the easy way out.”
Having said all of this, it can be helpful to share that you are having bariatric surgery with your close friends and family members. Remember, the surgery is not a cure; it is a tool to help you manage your weight. You will be making changes in your day-to-day living, which in turn does affect those closest to you. Having them on board, so to speak, with you will only help to further your success.
One last thing: For those people that don’t want to share with the world that they have had bariatric surgery, the question I hear is, “What do I tell people when they ask me how I am losing my weight?” The response can be, “I am working on getting healthier each and every day” — because that is exactly what you are doing!
Dr. Kathleen T. Baskett is medical director of the St. Vincent Healthcare Weight Management Clinic.
Sharing decision to have weight loss surgery is purely personal choice | Health and Fitness