Tag Archives: complications

New Study Suggests Obesity Doesn’t Make Joint Surgery Less Safe

BadKnees

Another media appearance for the bad knees.

I recently came across a recently published study that was published in The Journal of Arthroplasty regarding overweight and obese patients and joint surgery.  In particular, the study evaluates data from 900 hip surgeries and over 1,500 knee surgeries.  The data was evaluated in terms of weight, BMI, how often blood transfusions were necessary, complications from infections, and time spent under the knife (how long the surgeries took).

The study results were “counterintuitive” to many–meaning it failed to confirm some of their deeply held biases about hip and knee surgery and people who are fat.  The concern was that surgery on fat people would take longer than surgery conducted on thin people, and thus would increase the probability that a blood transfusion would be required.  This is of deep concern to doctors because blood transfusions can cause serious complications–with as many as 1 in 5 causing some sort of negative effect.

However, this assumption was not borne out by the research.  In fact, overweight and obese patients were less likely to require a transfusion than their thinner counterparts.  During hip surgery, on average 35 percent of the “normal weight’ patients required a transfusion compared to 28 percent of the “overweight”  patients and 22 percent of the “obese” patients.  During knee surgery, 17 percent of the “normal weight” patients needed transfusions compared to 11 percent of the “overweight” patients and 8 percent of the “obese” patients.

Furthermore, the study indicates that their research turned up no evidence that overweight or obese patients spend any more time under the knife than their thinner counterparts.  However, a slight uptick in complications from infection was noted for those in the overweight and obese categories.

A recent article in HealthDay turns to a surgeon from Los Angeles for a quote.  Dr. Alex Miric, an orthopaedic surgeon with Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles stated:

“I agree that the results are counterintuitive,” Miric said. But he also agreed that conclusions “would need to be replicated with more surgeons and a larger and more current patient population before such a finding would gain traction in the orthopaedic community.”

Hmmm.  While surgeries for fat people might not take longer or be more dangerous than those for thin people, it seems pretty clear that surgeon bias against fat people is alive and well.  I have read many anecdotal accounts from people denied surgery–especially hip or knee replacement surgery because they were too fat.  People with diminished mobility and often severe pain are sent home to “lose enough weight” to be a candidate.  Those fat people determined to receive surgical relief often find themselves wandering a desert of medical red tape looking for a surgeon willing to take on their case.  And they suffer needlessly while they do.

The question of whether the mobility and pain outcomes are as successful for fat people as thin people is a topic for another post.  But in the meantime, I wonder how many studies will have to be done and how many cases will need to be reviewed before the “counterinituitive” nature (read physician weight-based bias) will be reversed.  And how many fat people will have to suffer for how long while we wait for that to happen.

Fired up?  Want to fight stigma and bias?  I’d love to recommend that you join Ragen Chastain, a huge group of additional talented speakers and I for the Fat Activism Conference THIS WEEKEND.  We start on Friday night, so if you don’t want to miss it, I suggest you register now!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie

AKA The Fat Chick

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Weight Loss Surgery, Colon Cancer and Some Other Considerations

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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.

Love,

The Fat Chick

Right Now Show–Episode 003: Healthcare and YOU

In episode 003 of the Right Now show, we explore the new initiative by the Association for Size Diversity And Health (ASDAH) called RESOLVED: addressing weight bias in health care.  Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick) shares some stories about her journey in healthcare and shares details about the RESOLVED project with the viewers.

For more information about the RESOLVED project, go to the ASDAH website.  And to read another story about a truly frightening misdiagnosis of a fat person, click on THIS LINK.

And finally, if you’re enjoying the show, don’t forget to subscribe at: http://www.youtube.com/jeanettedepatie.

Thanks so much!

Love,
Jeanette
AKA The Fat Chick
http://www.thefatchick.com

P.S. This marks my 365th blog post!  (One whole YEAR of blog posts=YAY!)

Don’t forget to enter your miles in the Fit Fatties Across America page on the Fit Fatties Forum.  Let’s see if we can get out of Colorado and a little further down the road!

And if you’d like more information about how to pick a doctor that’s right for you, there’s a whole CHAPTER on that subject in my book The Fat Chick Works Out!  You can buy a hard copy or an e-book, whichever you like!