Recently I read about a new study that links increased risk for colon cancer with weight loss surgery. I thought it was important to share this information with you, because it seems to me that information about the possible negative side effects of weight loss surgery is so often buried in the general media. And I think the positive effects of weight loss surgery are often blown out of proportion in the media as well.
That’s not to say that I have any interest in telling you what to do with your body. It’s YOURS. You should do whatever you think is best. However, with over 100,000 weight loss surgeries performed in the US annually, I know that weight loss surgery is big business, and therefore, there are large financial incentives for certain companies to suppress information about the potential unfortunate side effects from these surgeries. So I’d like to provide a few links to some of information about weight loss surgery that is not supported by those who profit from it. And hopefully I can help “balance the scales” a little bit.
To be clear, one of the potential side effects of this surgery is death. To be sure, there is a risk of death from any surgery. But there is growing concern that the risks of weight loss surgery are often underplayed and that the evidence often cited concerning the potential upside to weight loss surgery (including savings in medical costs and lives) is deeply flawed. It is also really important to understand that weight loss surgery is not a miracle cure, and it isn’t always the patient’s fault when things go wrong. It seems that weight loss surgery is often treated like other weight loss techniques in that success is usually attributed to the surgery and failure is usually blamed on the patient. Thus many who have negative experiences with weight loss surgery are often shamed and ridiculed and even asked to leave public forums where they might share their stories. That’s why I think it’s important to share this link to a site dedicated to those who wish to share their stories about complications arising from weight loss surgery. I think people who are considering weight loss surgery are provided with plenty of links to people often still experiencing the “honeymoon glow” of the initial weight loss. But I think if you are considering this important life-changing step, you should also have access to a few of the heartbreaking stories of those who have not had such a wonderful experience.
To reiterate. I am not telling you that you should or should not have weight loss surgery. It is your body and your decision. Clearly some people feel that the surgery has had a positive effect in their life and there are plenty of places where you can read about that. I know people who have had the surgery and are glad they did. But I have also known and cared for people who have died from these procedures. I know people who have had these procedures and didn’t feel they were told the truth about what to expect. I know people who felt that the potential downside was significantly underplayed and wish that they were given more balanced information before they had the surgery. I simply wish to provide a few links that will hopefully help provide that balance.
The Fat Chick
My mom had the Roux-en-Y procedure just about five years ago. In her case, it was truly a last resort and I think the benefits ultimately outweighed the risks, but her life post-op hasn’t been without a few complications (including some weight regain, gouty arthritis, etc.) She would be the first person to warn anyone considering WLS to do their homework and to not take the decision lightly. It’s so often viewed (and even marketed) as a cosmetic procedure, and that is deeply troubling to both of us. Not long ago, I remarked to her that she must feel sometimes like she made a deal with the devil, and she concurred wholeheartedly.
Wow, thanks for sharing your story. Like I said, I don’t want to tell people how to live their lives, just want them to go in, eyes open.
Long ago I considered WLS. Everyone made it seem so easy and often asked if I had considered it. By the way, I was made to feel that not considering it was a moral flaw by many. Anyway, a local hospital had patients who blogged about the procedure. After reading about the multitude of complications–most that ended up requiring further surgeries to correct–I opted out. I’ve never regretted it. Thank God the hospital allowed the negative stories to be told!
Susie, I feel much the same way. After reading the stories, I would think very long and hard before I underwent this procedure. And good for that hospital for being honest about sharing both sides of the story.