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Should I Do Bariatric Surgery With My Family Member?

This is a really interesting question. How often can the same elective procedure be appropriate for two family members? Yet, with bariatric surgery, this is fairly common. There is a strong genetic component to obesity, so siblings, cousins, and parent-child duos can go through the process together. In my own practice, I have seen this family journey frequently.

two women sitting together

Benefits of Doing Bariatric Surgery With a Family Member

There are many reasons why going through the surgery process with a family member can be beneficial. Here are a few points to consider.

  • Support. Having support and encouragement from someone who knows exactly what you are going through is crucial. There are so many new things you will do during this process: new foods, new medical tests, new information to learn. Doing it along with someone who understands the new challenges can help you feel supported. You can check in with each other and cheer each other on.

  • Advice. Which new foods to try? Which products are good? Which vitamins are affordable? Which protein bars and protein shakes are yummy? You'll be able to share information back and forth through the entire process. And the information will be coming from someone who knows you and your preferences well.

  • Mutual understanding. When you are making changes in eating habits, you may experience your friends and loved ones sabotaging you. Although it is usually not malicious, getting offered foods you are choosing not to eat can be confusing and stressful. A family member who is going through the process with you will be more thoughtful to accommodate your needs and not sabotage your efforts.

  • An exercise partner. If your family member is going through the bariatric surgery process, they may also want to go to the gym, head out for a walk, or go on a hike. An exercise partner can help you stay on track. Turning your exercise into a social activity can make it enjoyable, and you may start to look forward to that time together.

  • A cooking buddy. From a practical standpoint, this can be very helpful. I have had family member patients who trade off cooking duties. One person will cook dinner for both one night, and the other will take on the next night. Or family members will dedicate some time on the weekend to meal prep for the week together. Like with an exercise partner, turning meal prep into a social activity can make it enjoyable for you.

  • A shopping companion. The bariatric surgery process will undoubtably have you looking for ingredients and products you never looked for before. Schedule a shopping date with your family member, and you can compare products, share opinions, and come up with meal ideas together while you shop.

Drawbacks of Doing Bariatric Surgery With a Family Member

There can be some drawbacks to going through the bariatric surgery process with a family member. Take these factors into consideration if you are thinking of sharing the journey with your relative.

  • Influence against your best judgement. Maybe your family member is not taking their health as seriously as you are. If your family member disregards advice from their surgeon, physician, or dietitian and encourages you to also, it might be best to keep your bariatric surgery process separate from theirs.

  • Lack of privacy. A lot of personal medical concerns come up during the bariatric surgery process. Is your family member going to share your medical concerns with everyone? Then you may want to keep that information away from them.

  • Comparing weights. Although there is a genetic influence on obesity, there are also differences in where people start and their weight changes over time. It is easy to become discouraged if your family member is losing more weight than you before or after surgery.

Do You Want to Do Bariatric Surgery With a Family Member?

There is no one answer that makes sense for everyone. For the most part, people who have a bariatric surgery alongside a family member benefit from the the support. Take a moment to think about yourself and your family member and consider the pros and cons for yourself.

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