Is Weight Loss surgery really, safer than being fat? That's the conclusion of a Weight Loss surgery surgeon from Baylor, at least.
In a video on the ABC website from "Good Morning America" this surgeon who is head of the Baylor Weight Loss surgery unit, does give that impression. In the video, he not only advocates ALL WLS for not only clinically obese, but also for "lower weights" i.e. for people with a BMI of 30 and over. While not openly misrepresenting, one could easily get the wrong impression of WLS from this video.
When asked about the risks, he brushed the question off with a "it depends" and changed the subject. Later he focused on the difference between having open surgery and lap surgery, giving the impression that that's the only concern about weight loss surgery which is so not true.
He also, said the surgeries done today are less risky than done 10 years ago. That's true but only of the lap band. The RNY - gastric bypass is basically the same risk (it hasn't changed). And today's RNY with transsection of the stomach, may actually be more risky than the older loop gastricbypass which left a larger pouch and did not cut the stomach into two pieces.
It makes a difference which procedure is done - the death risk with the lap band is 1 in 5000 or less. (One study in Australia found no deaths in 10,000 patients). The death risk with the gastric bypass is 2% within 30 days of procedure and 4-9% within the first year (According to the David Flum studies of 62,000 patient records)
They have no data as to weight maintenance over 10 years post op (1 study of 100 patients went 12-15 years post op) but that 10 year post op data they have suggests that most patients after gastric bypass have an average BMI of 35 and that was the same with all procedures. In the small study of 12-15 year post op gastric bypass patients, 68% suffered involuntary vomiting, 68% had suffered a plugged stoma so it was not complication free at all.
Many are frightened into surgery by thinking they are under less risk having surgery than remaining fat however, there is no evidence that this is true.
Even the release form for gastric bypass (which is given to prospective patients so it's not "anti WLS") warns about this:
****Keep In Mind: Slender individuals have adult diabetes. Slender individuals have heart attacks. Slender individuals develop arthritis and have joint problems. Slender individuals have strokes and develop cancer. If obese individuals have these problems more commonly than the slender, it is because the same bad health habits just don't happen to cause obesity in some individuals "fortunate" enough to be slender no matter what they eat. They may be slender but they could very likely die just as early in life as someone who is overweight.****
Kaiser Permanante Release form
(I know many slim people who have type II diabetes)
One doctor interviewed for "Self Magazine" stated:
*** "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 [WLS] surgery is insane."
Lee Kaplan, M.D., director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center in Boston in "Self MAGAZINE: 'The Miracle Weight Loss that isn't' AUG 2008 ***
I am reminded of a quote from one of the patients featured on the show about weight loss surgery, "Big Medicine" (which disappeared rather suddenly from the scene and so far has not gone into re-runs). The show filmed him being sent home and them bringing a gurney which was too small etc etc. He later wrote that this was all staged and he had never been sent home from the hospital (I think the idea of this drama was to emphasize how insurance sometimes did not pay for WLS). When people on the forum expressed surprise that a so called reality show had staged a scene, he wrote back "Well, you don't believe everything you see on TV, do you?"
Especially when it comes to risky surgery, prospective patients are encouraged to research the studies or to consult a gastroenterologist first... (someone who does not stand to profit by a decision in favor of surgery).