Gastric Bypass Surgery
Should be Last Resort
In response to the article on "Study shows that Bariatric Gastric Bypass
Surgery is Booming," I’d like to remind your readers that surgery should
always be the last resort for any injury, condition, or disease.
Obesity is no exception. It’s a mistake for anyone to abandon, or worse,
sidestep the proven behavioral solutions of exercise and a balanced
diet. The risks of invasive bariatric surgeries (such as gastric bypass,
adjustable gastric banding, duodenal switch, etc.) are substantial.
And their benefits can be achieved with less cost, no risk, and less
aggravation, using natural means.
Mortality rates for bariatric surgical procedures can be as high as 1 in
100, according to estimates by Virginia Commonwealth University. That
means that 1,500 of the projected 150,000 Americans that will undergo
the procedure this year will die as a result.
The survivors can expect months of difficult recovery, common
complications such as vomiting, ulcers, hernias, and internal bleeding,
and the surgery’s dirty little secret—the cruel irony of a nightmarishly
strict diet for the rest of their lives.
Most patients are restricted from eating certain foods ever again (which
vary depending on the person). In addition, patients are often required
to take a variety of supplements and medications to combat ‘predictive
malabsorption,’ a serious side-effect that stops the body from digesting
After gastric bypass, naughty indulgences that contain excess fats and
sugars can become life-threatening transgressions because they take up
crucial stomach space but have no nutritional value.
Sadly, many of these patients could lose their extra weight without
surgery, given a well-designed fitness program that includes diet,
exercise, and proven behavior modification techniques.
In over twenty years of treating obesity, I’ve rarely recommended
bariatric surgery, and when I have, it has only been in the very most
extreme cases and with great trepidation. Even in the most extreme
cases, behavioral therapies can be as effective and rewarding as
invasive procedures. And behavioral programs are always more flexible,
not to mention safe.
With a well-planned approach, and the help of a medical professional,
anyone can lose their excess weight, without losing the freedom of a
By Dr. Boyd
Medical Director, LA Weight Loss Centers Director of the
HeartHealth and Wellness Center, Dallas, Tex.
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