SP Premium
100,000-149,999 SparkPoints 138,662

The Dark Side Of Weight Loss Surgery - March 4, 2017

Saturday, March 04, 2017

I have been meaning to write this blog for several weeks now, but after my house's break-in, it got waylaid. Reading WATERMELLEN's own blog concerning bariatric surgery (here's the link) prompted me to finally sit down and put words to paper:


The main issue I have with the surgery, is many of the procedures are irreversible. I totally get the need, especially in the case of extreme obesity when all else fails, but the major component, which is the REASON for the obesity in the first place, does not seem to be adequately addressed. There are quite a few reality shows ("My 600-Pound Life", for one) that starkly televise the need for a major intervention.

I had the opportunity to observe this firsthand, when my boss at the time had the gastric sleeve, as did her daughter with the same surgeon on the same day. Her daughter at the time was seventeen and about to enter college. I totally get the mother's desire for her child to have a "full college experience", but I do have to pause when I saw what the bill amounted to for the dual surgery: Well into $40,000.00. I would love to know how much pre-counseling went into that to ensure success. I somehow doubt enough and I'll tell you why.

To be honest and fair, the daughter tolerated the procedure well, but being a typical teenager, she proved not willing or able to adhere to a regimen that was now going to be an integral part of her life, for the rest of her life. She did not stick to the plan, and did not take the necessary supplements required after losing two-thirds of her stomach due to the surgical procedure. As a result, the aftermath was predictable: She required blood transfusions because she had no iron stores to speak of. When "Parents' Weekend" at college that first year rolled around, her request to her mother was to buy Tombstone Pizza so she could stock the freezer with it.

The upside for the daughter was she did have the full college experience, and a boyfriend to boot, which, considering her morbid obesity, she most likely would not have had.

Now for the other side of the story: My boss did not tolerate her new circumstances well. She was vomiting for months after the procedure, albeit she was compliant with the new supplement regimen, unlike her daughter. Certain foods, well tolerated before, no longer were. She found that out the hard way, once the vomiting ensued.

Usually when people have this type of extreme surgery, the BMI at a MINIMUM is in the 60-plus range. My boss was an extremely tall individual and her weight for a height just shy of six feet was proportional. In fact, interestingly enough, her BMI was the same as mine at the time: 42, and I am a good nine-plus inches shorter and over fifty pounds lighter. I really have to question the wisdom of the surgeon who allowed the procedure to go forward in the first place. Was 40K something that was just too good to turn down? Yes, that's the cynic in me. But for some, that's a year's salary, or almost.

One year later, now came the time for the skin revision surgery. Again, a double for the surgeon, both mother and daughter scheduled the same day. Mom came through okay, but the daughter developed shortness of breath shortly thereafter, and it was discovered that she threw a blood clot and had a pulmonary embolism. To be fair, this was not the daughter's fault, nor the surgeon's, but one of the possible complications of surgery. Now the mother, as a nurse, was required to give her daughter injections of Lovenox, an anticoagulant.

The follow up care seemingly (I say "seemingly" because my boss never mentioned otherwise), was primarily with the surgeon. How about the therapy that was needed to make the adjustment on a psychological level?

I clearly remember telling someone about this mother/daughter situation. She has a daughter about the same age, and her reaction was visceral: There was no way she would allow her daughter to undertake such a permanent procedure. She herself had had the lapband surgery years earlier. And not too long ago, she had complications from that, that required an emergency room visit, so many years after the fact.

So, what price are we paying for radical surgery, in our quest to be healthy? An interesting paradox. I truly don't know the answer to this.

Here's the article:


Are we dying to be thin? At the very least, I think a more aggressive approach has to be taken in terms of behavior therapy, pre- as well as post-op.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • DS9KIE
    1526 days ago
    1526 days ago
    I'm just too chicken to have that extreme kind of surgery. When we lose weight, we are bound to have the aftermath of our journey. No matter what body part shows it, there has to be some sort of result from sagging EXTRA skin...For me it is cellulite on my legs. At times my vanity thinks...What would it be like to not have the access skin after my weight loss? Then reality sinks in & I know I would never pay the cost in money, or
    risk possible consequences to such extreme measures & that's AFTER my weight loss! Those inner organs are too important to mess with...I know it is a questionable concern with life or death MORBID Obesity but then again isn't the CONDITION that SAME concern!

    PEOPLE, THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES...change your lifestyle & CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
    1527 days ago
  • no profile photo CD17528039

    This is a wonderful topic of conversation and I couldn't agree more with what you are saying.
    This is not a quick fix, this is not an easy fix, and it requires the very perseverance that "normal" diet and exercise entails. This is not magic. People are becoming far to flippant.

    Nice work!
    1527 days ago
    I had a childhood friend who, around 36 with her 60 year old mother, decided to have lap-band surgery...I had already lost weight here on Spark, and she was asking me all sorts of questions on how...and one thing I asked her was about nutritional counselling pre-surgery. "Oh yes!" she said. "They screen you and this and that.... and blah blah blah" But 9 years later...I am maintaining my weight loss (a large part thanks to Spark support) and her and her mother are still the same size as before the lap band...the only thing different for them is that they have a foreign object inside them and tons of other medical issues.

    Behavior mod is a large part of weightloss...you have to embrace that there are issues that need addressing in one way shape or form. Noone is perfect and there is no magic wand can be waved and POOF! you are thin without any residual issues. Not gonna happen. Nothing in life is free. Every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction. A body in motion will stay in motion (or at rest) unless acted on an outside force.

    Thanks for the thought provoking blog my friend!!!
    1527 days ago
    I love that you blogged about this topic. Wow! I have often marveled at the extreme measures people take to lose weight, without truly digging deep to uncover the whys that led to their obesity in the first place. Sadly there are no easy, quick fixes. Any time a person undergoes surgery there are risks involved. Your sharing the journeys of people you know brought to light many things I would never consider or have known. I have to believe that anyone reaching the point they would consider surgery as an option to lose weight, needs to do some serious soul searching before such an extreme measure. A surgeon's knife will never create the accountability and motivation that are necessary to make healthy, lasting habits. How often have we each found that what we thought we wanted didn't come anywhere near close to what we needed? Sigh...

    Thanks for this...

    1527 days ago
    Oh my. if a surgeon agreed to do surgery on a 17 yr. old, I'd run. No way are kids that age prepared mentally or physically for that type of surgery that will affect them THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! OH my.

    I appreciate you doing this blog, because, I think so many want the "quick fix" and there just plain is NO quick fix.

    I appreciate your information.
    1528 days ago
    I occasionally watch "My 600 pound Life" and as I wrote on Watermellen's blog, I don't understand when prospective patients are so successful on the Doctor's initial, required diet, why not just continue that?
    Post surgery requires following a particular strict regimen anyway.

    I was unaware of the additional risks that you have described. Very scary indeed especially for a teenager.
    1528 days ago
    Surgery is no solution for those who lack the motivation and commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. Don't they REQUIRE counseling and independent weight loss prior to even doing the procedure? I think they used to, and even then, most of the patients I've known to have it have not achieved the results they'd hoped for. In fact, I don't know anyone who has.

    I knew a man, years ago, who broke his leg badly due to obesity (he stepped into a hole and kept going with forward momentum). He was in a wheelchair for a long while, as it healed, and lost weight. Unfortunately, he put the weight back on and the leg didn't survive it.

    HE didn't survive the loss of his leg.

    THAT always gave me pause; it's something I think about, and that motivates me to lose weight and keep it off. Mind you, I've never been close to as overweight as he was - he used to go weigh in at the loading dock, as there was no medical scale built that could take his weight.

    1528 days ago
  • no profile photo INCH_BY_INCH
    1528 days ago
    I belonged to a group that advocated for fat acceptance. several members had had weight loss surgery and gained most if not all the weight back plus had many health issues because of the surgery. I hope that no matter what size you are you will do the weight loss the healthy way. there are no good safe quick fixes. thanks for sharing
    1528 days ago
    Brilliant post. You've hit some very pertinent points.
    1528 days ago
  • SUZ_Z_Q
    Outstanding blog entry! I swear i have had this same type of conversation with my husband a million times. Its not a quick fix to being overweight becausr the surgery does absolutely nothing to fix the "why" the person is overweight to begin with!
    1528 days ago
    Great blog: the issues are so very very complex, intertwining the emotional, the physical and (given the price) the financial too!!
    1528 days ago
    Thank you for.sharing. I don't think that I could.ever do the surgery. There are too many risks
    1528 days ago
    Thanx for sharing.
    1528 days ago
  • no profile photo CD17058885
    Besides I've already had two C-sections and don't wish to be cut on again with the exception of getting rid of loose skin!!
    1528 days ago
  • no profile photo CD17058885
    I thought of having the surgery but it's cheaper just to alter my eating & to exercise. Incidentally my bmi was 64 so i definitely would have qualified but I've dropped it down to 52 (so far) by changing my lifestyle!
    1528 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.