Bariatric Surgery is Still Surgery: Proceed With Caution

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Medical Society Advises that Weight Loss is More Successful Under the Guidance of a Physician

The American Society of Bariatric Physicians (ASBP) believes bariatric surgery is the right choice for some adult patients but only after a plan for thorough pre- and post-operative care is established with a board certified bariatric physician. The ASBP agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics that bariatric surgery for adolescent patients should be considered with caution and only for select patients as a tertiary care intervention.

Currently, evidence suggests that weight and other health markers improve during the first six months after surgery but then plateau in adolescents. Patients under 18 are still growing and developing and the implications of surgery, including possible mortality, life-long vitamin deficiencies, and physical, mental and emotional effects, are still largely unknown.

Society continues to struggle with the obesity epidemic, but there is perhaps just as much discussion and argument about the solution as there is about the problem itself. Physicians affiliated with ASBP are specifically dedicated and uniquely prepared to address weight and obesity related co-morbidities, something a typical weight loss center without the guidance of a physician is not equipped to do.

"As an organization, we struggle with how to address the surgery option. For some patients, it's exactly what they need. But we agree that surgery or no surgery, weight loss is more successful and more effective when it is under the supervision of a specialized bariatric medical professional," said Laurie Traetow, executive director of the ASBP.

Before a patient ever considers surgery, the ASBP advocates that the patient first seek the help of a bariatric physician, who will implement a medical program that includes a complete patient work-up, ensuring that metabolic and overall health aren't compromised. A bariatric physician will provide appropriate counseling on:

  • Diet and nutrition
  • Exercise programs, tailored to the capabilities and limitations of the patient
  • Behavioral modifications, including proper eating habits, dealing with stress-related eating and dealing with the whole family
  • Prescription medications if indicated.

Bariatric surgery will continue to be an option for obese patients, but it shouldn't be viewed as the only option. Patients who have had bariatric surgery require long-term lifestyle changes and nutritional monitoring to ensure a safe and lasting weight loss. If surgery is selected, the adherence to a carefully implemented and monitored program before and after surgery will impact the overall success of the procedure and should be under the guidance of a bariatric physician.

About the ASBP
Founded in 1950, the ASBP is the oldest medical association focused on the education and training of medical professionals treating and managing obese patients and associated diseases. The ASBP is a collaborative organization that provides its members practical information and business tools to implement a successful medical bariatric practice. For more information about the ASBP, visit


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