Thinking About Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery? Think Again.
Bariatric weight loss surgery is a double edge sword. It has been devised as treatment for extremely obese patients, also known as morbidly obese. Statistics show that close to 200,000 bariatric surgeries are performed yearly in the country, 80% of which are women and only 20% are men, in spite of the fact that obesity occurs equally in men as in women. Bariatric surgery has its complications, some of which are dire.
There are many procedures collectively known as bariatric surgery. Their purpose is to limit the amount of food ingested by the patient and thus promote weight loss.
Except for the adjustable gastric band, which can be removed, all the other (sleeve gastrectomy, gastric by-pass also known as Roux en Y and the biliopancreatic diversion) are not reversible and, forever after, have changed the normal anatomy and physiology of your entire digestive tract and not for the better.
Complications appear either immediately after surgery or years or decades later. Most people agree that the immediate complications are like those of any surgery: bleeding, anesthesia risks, infections as well as other including death. Late complications may include bowel obstruction, dumping syndrome including diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, leak(s) where continuity of the gastrointestinal tract has been modified, gall stones, hernias, low blood sugar, malnutrition, ulcers, stomach perforation, and most likely some other not yet known. In addition, the lost weight may be regained. Recently, a bone metabolic disease has been reported, which occurred decades after bariatric surgery. This disease produced spontaneous bone fractures which incapacitated the patient. These are all serious complications which sometime require further surgery or may end in death.
Bariatric weight loss surgery should be reserved for the extremely morbidly obese patients. It was never intended to be a shortcut for diet, exercise and life style changes. Unfortunately, this type of surgery is very profitable for hospitals and surgeons alike.
Doctors and hospitals have special programs to educate patients about bariatric surgery. Information centers are available even in malls. While disclosures are offered, patients pay little attention to the details and rarely understand their significance and complexities. Unfortunately, patient’s mind set is such that the way they interpret the given information is that complications happen to other people not to them. Some physicians tell patients that undergoing bariatric surgery prevents Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems related to obesity. This may be true but not for all obese patients and thus is not worth the risks unless you are morbidly obese.
While bariatric surgery was designed for the morbidly obese patient, now many offices accept patients with borderline indications if they don’t happen to be morbidly obese. Such patients should never undergo this type of surgery.
Losing weight is a national problem. It is not easy. Takes time. It’s frustrating. No one likes it. Understand, however, that nobody loses 20 lbs. in a month or 10 lbs. in 10 days, as advertising wants you to believe. Do yourself a favor and remember that if you are 30, 40 or even 50 lbs. overweight, bariatric weight loss surgery is neither the answer nor a short cut to diet and exercise over time, with life style changes.
SILVIO ALADJEM MD is an obstetrician/gynecologist and Maternal Fetal Medicine (high risk obstetrics) specialist. He is Professor Emeritus in obstetrics and gynecology at Michigan State University, College of Human Medicine, in Lansing, MI. He is the author of “10,000 babies: my life in the delivery room” now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book stores. Dr. Aladjem published extensively in Scientific Medical Journals and wrote several textbooks in the specialty. Should you wish to contact him, you may do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org