I am a very involved physician when it comes to my website and other online efforts. There are several reasons for this but the most important are: a) I want to make sure everything we transmit to the public is accurate and b) I enjoy hearing from patients and those interested in bariatric surgery. In fact, a significant majority of traffic to and page views on my website, smartdimensions.com, is from people who are interested in viewing the gallery/patient success story page. Of course, the most obvious explanation for this is that humans are visual creatures. It’s true. But over the years, I’ve found other equally fascinating reasons to explain the popularity of the “patient success story” in bariatric surgery.

Seeing is Believing. That statement couldn’t be truer than it is when we’re talking about bariatric surgery. This is a procedure that “shows” how well it works without words. Even patients in the midst of their weight-loss journey love looking at photos of the process. It’s visual encouragement for the brain. I have many patients tell me they didn’t realize how large they had become until they saw photos of themselves at a healthier weight. This all plays in to how strong our feelings and rationalizations can be when it comes to obesity. But in many ways, the pictures don’t lie.

A Visual Reward for Hard Work. Another reason I believe gallery photos are so popular is that patients see them as visual confirmation that hard work pays off. Whether you’re scheduled for surgery tomorrow, or post-op and a few days into your liquid diet, photos like these encourage and cheer you on through the tougher aspects of the process. Perhaps you already knew how difficult the journey would be. But when you’re actually on it, it can be a different story. Photos of “success” can provide the best dose of encouragement at a time when many patients need it most.

Truth in Advertising. There are millions of weight-loss products on the market that make claims about significant weight loss within weeks of using them. Their advertisements often show bikini-clad women with headlines claiming 30 pounds or more of weight loss in just a few short weeks. I’ve found most people are quite skeptical of these ads. The biggest reason? Most who are severely obese are smart consumers. They’ve either researched these product claims and don’t believe them, or they’ve tried them just long enough to prove them wrong. But when it comes to the bariatric surgery photo gallery, we start speaking the same language. These aren’t bikini-clad 19-year-old women. In some cases, they’re healthier-weight men enjoying recreational sports again. In other cases, they’re women chasing their children at the park again. Those are the photos that speak to someone struggling to lose 100 pounds or more. These are people who simply want to get back to living a normal, healthier life that they can enjoy again.

The many reasons people enjoy viewing before and after bariatric surgery photos are as diverse as the people who have surgery. Obesity is a disease that transcends gender and race. Seeing photos of the many and different people that surgery can help is one way we rationalize how effective it is. Whatever your reason, I hope these photos provide you the optimism, encouragement and confidence at exactly the time you need it.