Weight-Loss Surgery vs. Diet & Exercise: Which Way Is Best?

Is weight-loss surgery better than dieting for fast, dramatic, and lasting results? If past attempts to lose weight have failed and obesity is impacting your health, you may be considering bariatric surgery. Should you do it?

Like many people, you may have achieved moderate weight loss in the past through diet, but the pounds crept back on. Health issues like diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease, obstructive sleep apnea, joint problems and even certain cancers, can occur with obesity, affecting your health and quality of life.

As we all know, sticking to a diet and exercise program for long enough to lose weight and improve your health can be difficult, especially if you have more than a few pounds to lose!

Diets Are Not an Effective Solution for Everyone

If you are significantly overweight, you are not alone. According to recent studies, obesity is on the rise in the U.S., and nearly 40% of adults, or 94 million Americans, are clinically obese. Obesity impacts not only your health, but also your ability to get around comfortably, your sense of well-being, and your social life. This is why so many people are in search of a fast and easy way to lose weight.

Low-carbohydrate diets like the KETO diet or an Atkins-style eating plan have helped many people succeed in losing weight where they had previously failed. However, some people find these diets are not sustainable. You have to stick to them for a long time to see results, and it can be tough to stay motivated. Diets don’t work for everyone, particularly if co-occurring health issues interfere with weight loss and exercise, or if you have 60-100 pounds or more to lose.

When Should You Consider Weight-Loss Surgery?

People should consider weight-loss surgery if they have attempted to lose weight through diet and exercise, yet are still at an unhealthy weight. Weight-loss surgery is an important option for those who have a body mass index, or BMI, of 40 or higher. This is considered high-risk obesity, which can be life-threatening.

If your BMI is 40 or higher, it is recommended that you speak with your doctor or a weight-loss specialist about your best weight-loss options.

“By the time patients come to me, they have previously made earnest efforts to lose weight through diet and exercise, but those efforts have failed,” says Bobby Bhasker-Rao, MD, a general surgeon and bariatric specialist with miVIP Surgery Centers in Los Angeles. “They are experiencing weight-related health problems and they need to make a dramatic change to improve their health and quality of life.”

According to Dr. Bhasker-Rao, who has expertise in minimally invasive bariatric surgery techniques, weight-related issues like type 2 diabetes and hypertension often diminish or disappear after bariatric surgery as the patient drops weight. Other symptoms related to obesity, such as snoring or acid reflux, typically resolve as patients trim down to a “normal” weight and commit to a healthier lifestyle.

Weight Loss Surgery: What You Need to Know

There are two types of weight loss surgery: malabsorptive and restrictive. Malabsorptive surgery reduces the amount of calories your body absorbs, and restrictive surgery limits the amount of food your stomach can hold. Gastric bypass is malabsorptive, while gastric sleeve and gastric band are restrictive. These procedures reduce the amount of food patients can eat at one time, so they will eat less and lose weight.

Shorter Recovery– Minimally invasive approaches to bariatric surgery help reduce recovery times, though patients should expect to miss a few days of work. Patients typically return to normal activities after a couple days.

Some Dieting Required– There are usually pre-op and post-op diet restrictions that must be followed closely, so bariatric patients should understand that surgery involves some dieting. It is also important to understand that surgery requires a lifestyle change if patients hope to sustain their weight loss over time. Most bariatric patients find that their amazing results make it easier to commit to a new way of eating and a more active lifestyle.

Great Results– “Time and time again, we see how bariatric surgery was, finally, the one thing that helped a person drop all the weight, improve their health, and transform their life,” says Dr. Bhaskar-Rao. “It is really gratifying to see what surgery and a support program like ours can do for a person. When our bariatric patients come back and tell us, ‘You changed my life!’ we know we are doing something that truly helps people.”

What Are the Guidelines for Bariatric Surgery?

The guidelines for bariatric surgery are a body mass index, or BMI, of 35 or higher. If a person’s BMI is 40 or higher, this is typically enough to qualify them for bariatric surgery under many health insurance plans.

Some insurance plans may require a patient with a BMI between 35-39 to also have one or more weight-related medical conditions such as diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, heart disease, and more.

People considering weight loss surgery can book a free weight-loss consultation at miVIP Surgery Centers to learn about the different types of weight-loss surgery available, and which approach may be best for them. Call miVIP at (855) 516-4847 to be scheduled for a weight-loss consultation.

This article was medically reviewed by Bobby Bhasker-Rao, MD, as part of miVIP’s Healthy Living Recommendations. To learn more about Dr. Bhasker-Rao, read his BIO in our miVIP Physician Directory.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Overweight & Obesity, Data and Statistics 2018

PUBLISHED 14 Dec, 2018

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