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Q: I've been heavy my entire adult life, and I've struggled with losing the weight. Now I'm considering bariatric surgery, like a gastric bypass. But a family member told me surgery is taking the easy way out.

Bariatric surgery—like gastric bypass, and sleeve gastrectomy—is most definitely NOT the "easy way." That's because, for the surgery to work, you have to make major changes to your lifestyle, including eating four to five small, nutritious meals a day, getting seven hours of sleep a night, and exercising for an hour each day.

Everyone who goes through bariatric surgery on Maui has to participate in a follow-up program for at least one year after the procedure. The program includes meeting with a counselor and nutritionist, and checking in with your surgeon (that's me) to monitor your progress. You'll also attend regular meetings of a support group, which includes talks and classes on healthy lifestyle choices, and discussion groups.

I've seen many people who, for one reason or another, couldn't seem to make these lifestyle changes on their own, but were successful after surgery. Why? Of course, the follow-up support really helps. But I also think part of it is mental—once someone has made the decision to have surgery, they are really making a commitment to changing their life, and they're willing to do whatever it takes.

And finally, unlike your willpower, the surgery never takes a day off. If you're on a diet and feel like taking a break, that day off may turn into two, which may turn into a week, and you may quit your diet. But the surgery never lets you quit.

Arthur B. Chasen, MD

General surgery

Mid Pacific Surgical Specialist
1830 Wells St., Suite #101
Wailuku, HI 96793