Problems with weight go beyond the one who bears it. Although such a person is the one who is directly impacted by any health problems associated with obesity or excess weight, the immediate family, community and society at large are also affected – albeit indirectly. Diabetes, heart problems and arthritis are only a few of the health disorders obesity predisposes an individual to. Such conditions can strain the patient and their family, and they can increase the burden on state or national health care.

With these points in mind, how can you talk to a loved one about bariatric surgery as a potential way of helping them to promote their health? Talking about bariatric surgery to a loved one also refers to what you don’t want to say.

What to Avoid When Talking about Bariatric Surgery to a Loved One

Avoid Lecturing Them in Any Way

Some people use this approach. As much as they have good intentions, there is bound to be a lot of resistance from the individual who is struggling with their weight. Reminding them of all of the bad things their weight can lead them into is likely to have the opposite effect from the expected results. Remember that individuals who are affected by obesity are already acutely aware, in most cases, of the health issues related to their weight.

Avoid Shaming Talk

Many individuals struggling with weight feel a mental burden as well. You don’t need to aggravate this feeling with cutting statements such as how they look in clothes or how it would be difficult for them if they tried to perform moderate physical exertion. Never discuss issues of appearance. Even if you have to talk about this in a positive manner, know your loved one well. Some people might take a positive compliment about their appearance out of context.

Also, try to avoid giving unsolicited opinions about their weight. Even when your opinion is sought, be cautious about what you say and how you say it.

Don’t be Judgemental

Individuals with obesity often experience weight bias, and should any other judgement come from a close relation, it can have devastating effects. This also means that you should be sensitive to their feelings about any discussion touching on their weight. If they are not willing to talk about it, then don’t feel obliged to force them into talking about it.

What to Say to a Loved One about Bariatric Surgery

Promote Positive Talk that Portrays Love and Concern

You may lovingly let them know that you are concerned about co-morbidities associated with obesity such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Simply tell them you wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them because of such conditions.

Show Fellow-feeling

Empathy goes a long way in helping your loved one to take a step towards bariatric surgery. Imagine how you would want another person to speak to you about a matter that is personal and sensitive, and then apply that to your conversation with your loved ones. Do to others as you would want them to do to you!

Let Them Know that You Are There for Them

This may include telling them that you are ready to accompany them to the doctor’s office or hospital for appointments or for their surgery. Before this, you may offer to be part of searching for the right bariatric surgeon or hospital.

If They Ask, Help Prepare Them for Bariatric Surgery

If you do your research, you will find that some patients do not foresee any challenges after bariatric surgery. Preparing them for the after-surgery reality will help them to adjust to lifestyle and physical changes following their procedure.

When you are open with your loved one, they may reflect on bariatric surgery with a positive mindset and be well-prepared for the possible post-surgery psychological and physical changes.


Branden Davis

Blue Valley Surgical Associates