Bariatric surgery has soared in popularity, as research confirms that surgery beats diet and exercise for producing rapid weight loss. But bariatric surgeons are troubled by the stigma surrounding weight-loss surgery.
"People lose sight of the fact that the patients aren't just obese, they're sick," bariatric surgeon Dr. Alan Wittgrove told CNN. "It's not as easy as just losing weight."
Wittgrove said it's unfair that weight-loss surgery is viewed as the lazy person's way out of obesity, saying no one would accuse someone who gets cancer surgery as lazy.
While weight-loss surgeons may be biased because they have a financial interest in bariatric surgeries becoming more accepted, it's hard to deny the health benefits associated with these procedures.
Recently, singer Ruben Studdard said he would never get weight-loss surgery because he wants to slim down naturally. Studdard has come under fire by bariatric patients for suggesting they had taken the "easy way out."
Most bariatric patients say they lose weight rapidly without exercise because they are no longer physically able to overeat following gastric-bypass, gastric-sleeve, or lap-band surgeries.
But that doesn't mean bariatric surgery is an "easy way out," as there are complications, including the potential for infection and even death, which is why most patients resort to weight-loss surgery after exhausting all other options.
Comedian Lisa Lampanelli lost 106 pounds after undergoing gastric-sleeve surgery in April 2012. She said she had tried every diet under the sun before resorting to surgery, which she called "life-changing."
Celebrity chef Graham Elliot lost 128 pounds just five months after undergoing gastric-sleeve surgery in July 2013, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has lost over 90 pounds since getting lap-band surgery in February 2013.
And comedian Rosie O'Donnell has lost 40 pounds since getting gastric-sleeve surgery in July 2013. All four had struggled with their weight their entire lives.
Weight-loss surgery is increasingly being touted not only for helping people lost weight, but for reversing type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of heart disease.
These health benefits are helping once-skeptical primary care physicians embrace bariatric surgery as a means for the morbidly obese to improve their overall health, and not just as a quick weight-loss fix.
"We're seeing more primary care doctors that truly understand the power of these operations," said Wittgrove. "I think society in general understands that this is the best treatment for metabolic syndrome."