Now that I have had time to reflect. I want to share my point of view on the 60 Minutes show. I still believe it was just another attempt to sell an elective surgery, a totally biased one-sided report.
Nothing was said about how your entire life is turned topsy turvy after the surgery. Did it tell how many people end up losing friends they have had for years? Did it show how many couples end up in divorce? Did it talk about the severe malnutrition seen in long term post ops? Did it share the studies showing conditions primarily seen in starvation-ridden countries and serious or terminal illnesses are now being reported among bariatric patients, from crippling osteoporosis, auto-immune diseases, to brain damage? Did they speak of people who trade one addiction for another?
There are always 2 sides to every issue. Not sharing the dark side, as I call it, of WLS means many will be uninformed when making the decision to have it. That little slip of paper you sign the day of your surgery says you ARE informed about all aspects of the surgery, plus the risks. How many of y'all actually even read the paper you signed? Check out this consent form for one doctor. My consent form was not nearly this thorough.
The whole obesity pani-demic started when the surgeons report back in 2001 stated that 65% of Americans were now obese or overweight. What they failed to tell you is they lowered the BMI categories. From Gastric Bypass, The Untold Story (doc):
Fat people are considered overindulgent, lazy, and are thought to demonstrate a lack of self-control. It doesn't matter that science now shows us that weight is primarily determined by our genes. We have been so ingrained with the idea that fat is somehow a personality flaw that we believe the diet ads and scare tactics that are thrown at us. As we do, we become more and more depressed over the fact that diets just do not work.
Obesity researcher, Paul Ernsberger1 curtails current claims that a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or over is a major health risk, by drawing attention to the fact that this information is ―based on reports issued by groups like the World Health Organization2 (WHO) and the NIH3 Obesity Task Force. The WHO panel (originators of the “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health”) consisted entirely of physicians who run weight loss clinics. Many of these clinics are largely dedicated to prescribing weight loss pills. The NIH Obesity Task Force, as (Paul Ernsberger) pointed out in a letter published in JAMA, consisted almost entirely of people running weight loss clinics. He also asserts, ―this is a more fundamental conflict of interest than taking a few drug company checks. This is a conflict involving livelihood. The NIH and WHO assemble panels of doctors and psychologists who have dedicated their clinical practices to promoting weight loss. Indeed, in their reply to (Paul Ernsberger’s) letter in JAMA, the NIH has explained that their very definition of an obesity expert is someone who runs a weight loss clinic. These people are then asked to objectively evaluate the threat posed by obesity and the benefit provided by the clinics they run. In no other area of medicine are practitioners of a completely unrecognized specialty given such free rein to set their own ground rules.(Campos 44) (Campos, The Legalization of Fat 75)
The American Society of Bariatric Surgeons repeatedly refers to the ―obesity epidemic‖ to persuade people into considering gastric bypass surgery. We are barraged with statements about how gastric bypass surgery ―cures‖ diabetes, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and acid reflux among other things. We believe what we hear—they are the experts, aren‘t they? We allow them to alter our digestive systems hoping to attain the holy grail of thinness and health. What they neglect to tell us is that ―any‖ weight loss can control those conditions, not just the surgical alteration of our insides. We are also not informed that there is no guarantee that those same problems we had before surgery will not return in the future and bring even more health problems with them.
Hundreds of thousands of people have had bariatric surgery in recent years and the number is growing every year. The media portrays this surgery as a lifesaver and an almost-magic method of losing weight for the millions of people who are being targeted in the so-called ―obesity epidemic. However, what is life like years after gastric bypass? Is it still as rosy as it was portrayed? Is there a part of the story the media hasn‘t yet stressed?
The first bariatric operation was the jejuno-ileal bypass (JIB), introduced in 1950 by Kremen, Linner, and other early pioneers (MacGregor Ch 1). The complications caused by this procedure were considerable and caused the procedure to fall into disrepute. Some of the complications included mineral and electrolyte imbalance, osteoporosis and osteomalacia(softening of the bones), calcium and vitamin D deficiency, hair loss, anemia, edema(fluid retention), vitamin depletion, gallstones, abdominal distension, irregular diarrhea (4-5 times daily), increased gas, bowel obstructions, arthritis, liver disease (in at least 30% of patients), acute liver failure, hepatitis, cirrhosis, erythem modosum (non-specific pustular dermatosis), Weber-Christian Syndrome5, renal disease, kidney stones, peripheral neuropathy, pericarditis6, pleuritis7, anemia, neutropenia8, thrombocytopenia9, diarrhea, and malabsorption with multiple deficiencies. (MacGregor Ch 2) ―As a consequence of these complications, jejuno-ileal bypass is no longer a recommended bariatric surgical procedure. Indeed, the current recommendation for anyone who has undergone JIB and still has the operation intact, is to strongly consider having it taken down and converted to one of the (newer) gastric restrictive procedures. (MacGregor Ch 2)
As I will illustrate, almost all of these complications are showing up in current bariatric surgery patients as well. Surgeons have discarded this older surgery for the ―new and improved versions; but are they really better? Each one of the surgical procedures for weight loss was touted as ―new and improved in its time. However, as each was time-tested, it too, was found to have many of the same complications. Then another ―new and improved version would come along. Bariatric surgery has become a cash cow for the surgeons performing it, and they certainly do not care to give up this lucrative income. Consequently, the many complications that are brought about by gastric bypass surgery are conveniently played down.
It really all boils down to one thing.....WLS is big business. The surgeons make money. the supplement companies make money, the hospitals make money. You and I, the post WLSers pay that price with our health, physical and mental and many times with our life.
All because we fell for 2 ideas. One, we think obesity is unhealthy. Two, the thought of finally we could be thin. This is the real reason most go for the surgery, despite all their cries about doing it for their health.
Here's some further reading on this:
- Special: Bariatric surgery — the most life-altering decision you'll ever make
- Unprecedented campaign to force insurers to cover bariatric procedures
- When scares become deadly — weighing the actual risks of dying of obesity
- Selling an elective surgery
- Why we never hear, why people don't talk and why people don't want to know...
- Rumor versus facts
- Note from Dani
- Losing more than expected
- Was this really proof that bariatric surgeries save lives?
- The latest research on actual deaths seen after surgery for weight loss
- Show Biz Medicine (bariatrics in teens)
You can check out Jenny's Diabetes pages to learn to control your diabetes with a low carb dietary approach.
Let me leave you with one final thing.......
Even with the newest and most recently improved weight loss surgeries, the complication list is comparatively similar to those first surgeries, which were subsequently discontinued. Although the same conditions can occur in people without weight loss surgery, those listed below have been confirmed by doctors of gastric bypass patients as being related to the surgery.
These conditions include, but are not limited to, dehydration, chronic vomiting and nausea, stroke, heart attack, arrhythmia, kidney stones, kidney failure, liver failure, anemia, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, malabsorption of supplements (including vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from food), blurred vision, muscle and bone pain, loss of teeth, bleeding gums, rotting teeth due to vomiting and/or calcium deficiency, severe hypoglycemia, headaches, black outs/seizures, lactose intolerance, injury to spleen during surgery, splenectomy, coma, paralysis/blindness after coma, osteopenia, osteoporsis, osteomalacia, ruptured pouch, lupus, auto-immune diseases, looped intestines, ruptured esophagus from vomiting, misfired stapler during surgery, ulcers, pneumonia/lung problems, arthritis, weakness and fatigue from malnutrition, fibromyalgia, metabolic bone disease, food blocking stoma causing severe pain, stoma needing repeated stretching, neuropathy, beriberi, feeding tubes/picc lines, chronic fatigue, fistulas, muscle atrophy, hair loss, hernias, blood clots, leaks, peritonitis, heart burn/gerd/acid reflux, bowel obstructions, gallstones and gallbladder removal, depression, anxiety, loss of memory, poor concentration, irregular blood pressure, diarrhea, constipation, opening of outer incision-needing packing until healed from the inside out, insomnia/sleep disorders, involuntary anorexia and bulimia, gas, foul smelling stools, silent stroke, vertigo, and malnutrition which is the cause of many of the above problems. Some patients end up becoming invalids, and then there is death.
These complications can happen right after surgery, days, weeks, months, or many years later; even when taking all the required supplements. In addition to physical complications, there is the financial and emotional hardship caused to families who are devastated when someone close to them is ill or dying. … and the list continues to grow.
WLS might be just a tool......
For many of us.....
The tool is broken......