As obesity rates climb in Western cultures, so do the rates of those going under the knife to fight the fat. In the UK, weight loss operations are up 1000% in the last decade, reports the British Medical Journal.Bariatric surgeries remain a growth industry in the US as well, with 16,000 a year in the 1990s to over a quarter million a year by last year. Quite simply, gastric bypass surgery is one of the most common surgical procedures for weight loss. There are two general types of gastric bypass surgeries, Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (named after the French surgeon who created it, which accounts for 70% of all gastric bypass surgeries performed), and extensive gastric bypass, also sometimes referred to as biliopancreatic diversion.
Bypass surgery works by changing the normal digestive process. First, it reduces the size of the stomach, which limits the amount of food (calories) you can eat during a meal. Second, the surgery routes any food that is eaten past a portion of the small intestine. In other words, it “bypasses” it — thus the name of the surgery. Because of these things, the patient generally feels fuller while at the same time absorbing fewer calories. Other methods include gastric banding (commercially known as Lap Band surgery), which involves minimizing the stomach’s size by placing a band around it, thus effectively removing a portion of the stomach from use. Keep in mind that nothing is free. Once a surgery is performed, it is necessary for the patient to make significant life changes in order to ensure that the surgery is effective.
What could be better than this? Eat all you want and never have to pay the consequences. No diabetes, no fat clothes, no heart attacks? It’s the perfect solution.
As long as you don’t mind developing a severe case of malnutrition. Because the surgery works by preventing the absorption of calories, it also limits the nutrients a patient’s body can get from food. Common side effects of surgery can include a lack of iron, B12, calcium, and other nutrients. Eventually these deficiencies can lead to conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia.
Because the surgery can result in a tightening of the intestines and stomach, it is also a possibility that patients will suffer from nausea and vomiting after each meal. Or you might get lucky and only get sick if you eat any sugar — ever. Then you’ll probably feel the weakness, cramping, and diarrhea associated with the dumping syndrome.
Gastric surgeries are not without risks. Like all surgeries, patients run the risk of getting an infection at the site of the incision or suffering from blood clots and extreme blood loss. Risks specific to the surgery include stomach leaks, bowel blockages, gallstones, and hernias. A small risk to be sure, but how small are we talking about? In fact, one study reported, “The 10% rate of incidence of small bowel obstruction after laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery is surprisingly high.” Almost 1 in 5 patients require follow-up surgery to fix what was damaged during the first surgery! That doesn’t include the psychosis that also hits some patients following surgery, as reported in this study.
The other problem is that surgery might kill you. The “official” reports indicate that the fatality rate from surgery is between .3 to 1.0 percent. I’m convinced the fatality rate for gastric bypass surgery actually is much higher than commonly quoted. CBS reported that 1 in 50 patients die within a month of getting the surgery! In older patients who undergo the surgery, the fatality rate can actually soar to 50 percent. You would think the medical community would have a hard time justifying an elective surgery that can kill half of its patients?
Then again, bariatric surgery has become a lucrative industry. For a typical non-gastric bypass surgery, the surgeon’s fees are only a couple of thousand dollars. Bariatric surgeons, on the other hand, typically charge about $14,000. And the best part? The grand total of $25K is almost always out of pocket for the consumer. That way, doctors don’t even have to negotiate with the insurance company — it’s pure profit.
Not convinced? William L. Weis, a management professor at Seattle University, says that the obesity industries, including commercial weight-loss programs, weight-loss drug purveyors, and bariatric surgery centers, will likely top $315 billion this year, which is nearly 3 percent of the overall U.S. economy. Holy blubber, Batman!
Besides the hidden dangers of gastric bypass, the advertisements also fail to mention that of the patients who survive the gastric bypass surgery, fewer than 10% ever reach a normal BMI. At least 10% gain back most, if not all, of the weight they lost.
Weight loss isn’t easy. It requires a systemic approach with a concerted effort including proper nutrition,exercise, supplements,stress reduction, and detoxing. There are no magic bullets to be found. Check out Making Sense of Weight Loss But know this; obesity is far likely to kill you than gastric bypass surgery. If nothing else works for you, going under the knife may be your option of last resort.