The obesity statistics are shocking, and despite the fact that we have known for quite some time that this is becoming a real problem, they continue to grow. The most recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has highlighted just how bad the situation is.
More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Among young people ages 2 to 19, about 31.8 percent are considered to be either overweight or obese, and 16.9 percent are considered to be obese.
Taking that into consideration, it should come as no surprise that the weigh loss industry is now a billion dollar industry. People are trying thousands of fad diets each year and are turning to a myriad of weight loss pills and other products. And then, there are those who turn to weight loss surgery.
There are situations in which weight loss surgery is absolutely necessary. However, more and more people are considering it as an easy way to lose weight although that is simply not the case. In fact, this type of surgery should be a last resort option.
Why Weight Loss Surgery Is a Bad Idea
There are many reasons as to why weight loss surgery should never be taken lightly. It is likely that you will have heard that Al Roker had a very unfortunate mishap at the White House, when he had what can only be described as a ‘toilet accident’. This is actually a common occurrence.
Both fecal and urinary incontinence are common side effects, possibly because surgery may expose “prior weaknesses in the continence mechanism,” according to a 2010 study. In the study, 55 percent of women and 31 percent of men with fecal incontinence felt their condition worsened after surgery.
Incontinence is an embarrassing and inconvenient negative side effect. What is worse is that other side effects are far more significant and can seriously reduce a person’s quality of life. Some, in fact, can be lethal. One fact that very few people are aware of is that half of all bariatric surgeries result in serious complications.
All surgeries have inherent risks, but bariatric surgeries seem to have a much higher ratio of complications. Complications occur for both types of weight loss surgery, gastric banding and the more invasive gastric bypass.
So what are some of these complications? In 0.14% of cases, death occured, and in 5.4% of cases people were readmitted to a hospital as a result of complications due to their surgery. The same percentage had to be operated on again within 30 days. Leaks have also been found, with percentages ranging from 0.3% to 0.6%, depending on the type of surgery that was performed. In 0.2% of cases, people experienced neuroglycopenia, which meant the weight loss surgery had to be reversed. In 0.2% of cases, people experienced malnutrition. Finally, ulcers were observed in around 8% of cases.
The statistics relating to vitamin deficiency as a result of weight loss surgery are even more significant. Research has shown that within four years of surgery, 69% had vitamin A deficiency, 68% had vitamin K deficiency, and 63% had vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, the number of people who suffered from low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) increased from 15% to 48% in that same period. That is incredibly significant, because it is now known that people who have had gastric surgery are at an increased risk of breaking their bones as a direct consequence of the surgery.
A quarter of the 142 surgery recipients studied so far experienced at least one fracture in the following years, Mayo’s Dr. Elizabeth Haglind told the endocrinology meeting. Six years post-surgery, that group had twice the average risk. But in a puzzling finding, the surgery recipients had even more hand and foot fractures than their Minnesota neighbors, three times the risk.
So far, it has started to become clear that the surgery is not actually as satisfactory as it may sound. We know that gastric surgery became popular when Medicare started paying for it. The reason why they started paying for it, however, was only because it was demonstrated to stop type 2 diabetes in its tracks. Type 2 diabetes is also covered under Medicare, and covering for the surgery worked out to be cheaper in the long run. Hence, the surgery was never approved because it has so many overall benefits. In fact, we now see that the surgery often fails, because people don’t stick to their diet. And, if they do, they find themselves with various nutritional deficiencies.
Should Bariatric Surgery Be Forgotten?
Bariatric surgery has its place in modern medical science and in society as a whole. There are people who absolutely need this type of surgery, or they will die. However, it is very important that it is not seen as a quick fix that carries no risks and requires no hard work. In almost all cases of obesity, there is a psychological issue underpinning the significant weight gain. This can be poor parenting, a past trauma, an inability to vocalize emotions, or any other issue, which translates itself into a need to eat. This is often called ‘comfort eating’, but that term doesn’t adequately describe how significant the issue actually is. People who are morbidly obese cannot simply stop eating. It is beyond the stage of simply needing more willpower.
It is vital, therefore, that members of the medical community start to commit to offering bariatric surgery only to those who commit to their before and aftercare plan, and that this includes some form of psychological help. In order to make sure people lose weight and keep the weight off, the reason why they were overweight in the first place has to be addressed and resolved as well.
If you are not convinced by this, consider the following failure statistics, for instance.
Ten percent of sleeve patients fail who are under 40 years of age and have a BMI under 50. However, 40% of sleeve patients fail if they are aged over 40 with a BMI over 50.