Holding nothing back…

Bariatric surgery anecdotes…

Posted on: April 28, 2008

I know that anecdotes aren’t considered scientific evidence, but within my circle of family and friends there is enough anectdotal evidence that bariatric surgery doesn’t work long term and/or has serious health side effects to convince me that it’s something I do *NOT* want to undergo.

The list of people I know or am related to that have had bariatric surgery for weight loss includes:

  • Two aunts
  • One cousin
  • Three friends

Of the six people I know that have had weight-loss surgery, only ONE has lost significant weight and kept it off for more than a year.  O-N-E, my cousin who went from 300 to 180.  Neither of my aunts has lost more than 5% of their body weight, one went from 280 to 266, the other went from 320 to 304).  One is a year post-surgery and the other is two years post-surgery.  I’m not *recommending* dieting by saying this, but 5% of your body weight is a fairly attainable amount to lose by “traditional” diet and exercise methods, without radically altering major bodily organs (I can’t help thinking that disordered eating in the form of a diet HAS to be healthier for someone than high-risk, radically altering surgery, not a very HAES attitude I know, but…).  Of the three friends that have had weight-loss surgery, one is two years post-surgery and has “settled in” at approximately 20% of her body weight lost (from 230 lbs to 185), the second friend has settled in at approximately 10% of her body weight lost (from 190 to 171) at one year post-surgery, and the third has settled in at approximately 30% of her body weight lost (from 245 to 171) at about a year and a half post-surgery.  The only one of them that has fallen below the “obese” category according to the BullshitMI is my cousin, who has gone from “obese” to “overweight”.  ALL of them are still being hounded by their doctors to lose more weight!  Every last one of them, despite having taken what is IMNSHO the most *RADICAL* step one can take in an effort to lose weight.  *sigh*

  • EVERY single one of them still cannot eat more than a few ounces at a time without vomiting. 
  • Not one of them can eat even a “fun size” candy bar, or any other kind of sweet treat, without vomiting. 
  • Not one of them can eat pizza, hamburger meat (in ANY form), pork, or anything even remotely spicy without vomiting. 
  • 4 of the 6 are “surviving” on Ensure and/or SlimFast drinks, the only things they can consistently keep down. 
  • All of them suffer severe heartburn or acid reflux.
  • All of them have chronic diarrhea.
  • Two of them have been diagnosed with IBS post-surgery.
  • One has been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis post-surgery.
  • One is suffering severe depression post-surgery.
  • One has severe joint problems that she didn’t have before the surgery.
  • One has had serious heart problems post-surgery, that she didn’t have pre-surgery.  Her doctor suspects it is due to potassium deficiency.
  • The ONLY one that says she would do it again is my cousin. 

And yet, the 60 Minutes segment on bariatric surgery last week didn’t mention ONE of these potential side effects.  In fact, the segment implied that bariatric surgery has only very minor side effects in most cases. 

Please, ANYONE considering bariatric surgery for weight loss, do your own research!  Do NOT depend on your doctor to fully inform you of the possible implications of bariatric surgery.  Talk to several people that have had the procedure you are considering, preferably people that are more than one year post-surgery.  You will probably discover that bariatric surgery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

7 Responses to "Bariatric surgery anecdotes…"

Great post, thanks so much for it! Anecdotes aside, the fact that you can easily produce friends and family members that have had severe complications post-op means there was a helluva selection bias by the _60 Minutes_ people.

Keep writing!

And if you’re considering WLS, please talk to people who’ve had it and *aren’t cheerleaders for it*, who have criticisms of it, etc.

I know of too many people who research WLS and end up in a soley pro-WLS environment. Not exactly the best place to get a balanced view.

Great post.

In fact, if you’re ever tempted, first join the OSSG gone wrong yahoo group, where you can hear about such lovely side effects as vile-smelling gas and anal discharge, baldness due to severe malnutrition and countless other real effects. The people who hit the ten year mark are in the worst shape, since that’s when the brittle bones, kwashiorkor, organ damage, etc. all start setting in.

Or you could try reading this weight loss surgery release form. http://www.gastricbypass.netfirms.com/wls_release_form.htm

A woman I used to work with had bariatric surgery done. She’s lost the weight and kept it off, but has had nothing but debilitating stomach pains, acid reflux and IBS issues since.

She says she wishes now she hadn’t done it. She also figures with all the willpower she uses now to eat next to nothing since it all makes her sick, she could have lost the weight on her own. :(

I have had WLS and it was the best thing I ever had done. So, please dont consider everyone in this factor. I am 9 months out, have lost 148 lbs. and I feel like a woman once again. I have had no bad side effects nor have I been sick. I just think that as long as people are doing exactly what the doctor says then not many have the problems you state here. By no means am I saying that they didnt but that is smething to consider. Of course, my doctor does admit that I am one of the few who have had no complaints and been successful in such a small amount of time. But I do want you to know that not everyone has a bad outcome.

bethandherspace, while I’m glad that you have, so far at least, had no bad side effects from your WLS, the fact that the majority of people I know, or have heard of, that have had WLS HAVE had severe ill effects rules it out for me. Especially with the women in *MY* family that have had severe ill effects (which, to me at least, makes me suspect that it’s possible that something in my family’s genetics may make us susceptible to ill effects, and also to being “overweight”).

I also note that you qualify your statement about *you* not having ill effects with the fact that your doctor even admits that you are “one of the few who have had no complaints.” ONE OF THE FEW! Doesn’t *that* tell you something? Even your own surgeon admits that MOST OF HIS OWN PATIENTS have complaints about what is happening to them and/or their bodies post-surgery.

The anectdata I have seen supports my personal conclusion that bariatric surgery is something that *I* do not want to undergo. Others may come to a different conclusion. I just want to urge them to do research OUTSIDE of asking the doctor that will be performing the surgery on them, who may or may not have a vested interest in making sure you go through with the surgery. Talk to people that have had it, both with good AND bad opinions. Make sure that you are fully informed about the POSSIBLE ill effects of ANY elective surgery and weigh (pun intended) the pros and cons before agreeing to it. Not just bariatric surgery.

Also, PLEASE take into consideration that a gastric bypass is PERMANENT. You are radically altering two major organs (the stomach and small intestine) for no other reason that to lose weight through forced starvation and/or bulimia. You will NOT be able to eat much because your stomach will be significantly smaller (the forced starvation part of the equation). You very well may vomit any time you eat even ONE ounce too much, or whenever you eat certain foods and that list of vomit-inducing foods is VERY long for some people (the forced bulimia part of the equation). Only a very small percentage of people have gastric bypass surgery WITHOUT some sort of ill effect. Some, like you and my cousin, feel that the ill effects are worth the lost weight. Others, like my aunts and three friends, don’t and actively advise everyone they know considering bariatric surgery NOT to do it.

Add into that the fact that most people do not get below at least the “overweight” marker, many don’t even make it below the “obese” marker, and I just can’t see bariatric surgery being worth it for the vast majority of people.

Of course, YMMV, but for me and quite a few others it’s pretty clear.

i am trying to help my wife she is in real bad shape she had bariatic surgery 2 year ago two or 3 days she feels 100 percent but the other days she looks like going to die its not a f game i need real help can some help me if you can do anything or know a real doctor that knows bariatic people we have been two every doctor and then some well they say i think it this but no help yet this may sound dum i am trying to help my wife thank you any one kevin ps she glad she had the bariati done but she never thought it would be like this not a good life my wife name is ruth

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