Handling Criticism About Your Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Veteran VSG patients know that the only certain things in life are death, taxes…and criticism. If you’ve been overweight or obese for more than five minutes, you’ve probably received unkind comments from both strangers and loved ones. Unfortunately, the judgment doesn’t end when you become thinner. It just takes new paths. Here are the most common criticisms and a few ideas about handling them.

Criticism #1: “Going to Mexico is a mistake.”
Sometimes it’s that blunt, or maybe it’s more along the lines of asking whether you’ve thought through the wisdom of having bariatric surgery in Mexico. Either way, the point is clear: you’re making a dangerous decision. If you live north of the border and tell people about your gastric sleeve in Mexico, this criticism is practically guaranteed. There are two ways to handle this one; the first is to throw facts at them. For instance, our safety record at Endobariatric is unbeatable. My team and I have done nothing but VSG procedures since 2006—that’s 16,000-plus surgeries to date—and have one of the lowest complication rates in the world. Not in Mexico. In the world. I’ve perfected the technique, as evidenced by the thousands of five-star patient reviews. And our state-of-the-art hospital and dedicated team of highly trained professional staff beats the pants off of most facilities in the U.S.

The other option is simply to reassure the (hopefully) well-meaning person that you’ve done your research and are confident in your decision. With any luck, they’ll take the hint and move on!

Criticism #2: “You’re starting to look too skinny.”
This one takes a hundred different forms: “You look unhealthy,” “You should stop now,” and an outraged, “How much more do you plan to lose?!” are just a few of its variations. Hopefully these comments are coming from a place of genuine love. And the vast majority can be chalked up to the fact that vertical sleeve gastrectomy delivers relatively quick results. It may not feel like it when you’re in the middle of it, but the way you look can change dramatically in a matter of months, which can be jarring for others. It’s as if their mental picture of you and the new reality of what you look like are so different that it must mean you’re now “too skinny.” After a while, everyone will get used to it, and the “too skinny” comments will decrease.

Some people don’t make these criticisms because they have your best interests at heart—at least, it doesn’t come across that way. Says Carrie, “About one year in, a man at work told me I looked like Karen Carpenter. Let me tell you, my reaction wasn’t very professional.” Outright nastiness is, fortunately, pretty rare. If you’re ever on the receiving end of it, Stacey has some advice. “I say something like, ‘Kiss my skinny booty,’ while I smile and walk away.”

Criticism #3: “You took the easy way out.”
This might be the one that tempts you to really lose your temper. Comments about you being “lucky” or having “cheated” in your weight loss are not only insulting but wrong. It’s hard to put a good spin on this criticism because it’s unlikely to be coming from a place of caring, but rather from jealousy. Yep, I said it: jealousy. If you feel like putting in the work, you can offer them the truth—that vertical sleeve gastrectomy is simply a tool and that you’ve had to put in incredible effort in order to maximize that tool. You can detail the pre-op gastric sleeve diet, the liquids stage, the soft food stage, etc. Maybe that will change a mind or two. Aleka says, “I do share my story with people that are struggling and searching. However, I don’t share anything with busybodies.” Lissa sums up the experience that many patients have with this type of comment. “I know one individual who constantly bashes (bariatric surgery). She also repeatedly talks about losing ten pounds. I have never seen her this heavy and/or this unhealthy. I wish she might open her mind and extend her life.” Lissa adds that after she was shamed for having VSG, she badly wanted to call out her detractor but took the high road. When you’re living your best, healthiest life, it’s a little easier to take the high road.

No matter what kind of criticism you receive during your VSG journey, you’ll have the confidence of knowing that you made the best decision for you. The best revenge is living well and loving every minute of it!

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“Changing lives…one sleeve at a time”.