Read an article on MSNBC.com today. You can view the article here before reading my thoughts on the topic if you wish. It affirms many of the reasons I chose not to do it.
First off, I don’t have a problem with WLS in and of itself. It certainly is a tool for the right situation. However, I think that WLS is being pushed as a weight loss product instead of the serious surgery that it truly is. I am seeing commercials for it on television, for goodness sake! And unlike the drug commercials, there isn’t a running commentary on the side effects and complications possible with WLS. Bariatric procedures are up 800% over a decade ago. 800%!!! I can’t believe that many people really and truly needed the surgery as their final option. As Lee Kaplan, M.D., director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center in Boston states “Because it’s risky, it’s only appropriate for a tiny fraction of people with obesity — the sickest 1 to 2 percent,” … “The idea that all obese people should get surgery is insane.” Yet that’s the way weight loss surgery is being peddled to the public.
The problems that are glossed over are:
– Four in 10 patients developed complications within the first six months
– The American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) in Gainesville, Florida, puts gastric-bypass surgery’s death rate at between 1 in 1,000 and 1 in 200.
– Up to 40 percent of gastric-bypass patients can suffer nutritional deficiency
– Although initial weight loss can be dramatic — gastric-bypass patients typically shed around 70 percent of excess weight — patients gradually regain 20 to 25 percent of what they lose
– there’s no official certification for bariatric surgeons and no mandatory training requirements; a surgeon who has $10,000 to spend can learn banding or bypass in a five-week “mini-fellowship.” (Another reason to vet your surgeon rigorously)
– A 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association study found that 20 percent of gastric-bypass patients were rehospitalized the year after surgery, sometimes for follow-up operations.
It’s so important that if you are considering this surgery that you go a surgeon who specializes in bariatric surgery and has a full, long-term program available for post surgery support. It doesn’t end when you leave the hospital, it is for the rest of your life. Your whole entire life. It needs to be treated as the serious surgical intervention that it is, not like the fluffy commercials show. That makes me so angry because it plays on the obese person’s desire to be thin, be thin fast and make it easy. WLS is none of those (although the fast part can apply).
No matter what weight loss option you choose, it is going to be hard and take a long time when you have 100+ pounds to lose.