Thursday - January 5th, 2011
This is why I will be denied life insurance.

Should I have weight loss surgery?

It's a search I see often -- "should I have weight loss surgery?"  

It's a very personal decision, but people do ask the Google for advice.  Doing such, results in a page full of advertisements and opinions.  Certain pages should be obviously ignored, "LOSE WEIGHT THE EZ WAY!"   Um.  No.

This isn't much different.  I am also an opinion.  This is a blog.

Morbid obesity is an extraordinarily difficult condition to treat if you have decided to do something about your weight.  

You can use a commercial diet plan, there's Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Medifast and more. You can follow certain food-restrictive plans:  low-carbohydrate, very-low-calorie diets with the use of meal replacement shakes, low-calorie high protein diets, a doctor-supervised weight loss plan, any number of diets are out there for your, um... consumption.  

You could amp up physical exercise and burn off excess fat, usually in conjunction with a diet plan.  Losing weight is (at least on paper) a simple process.  JUST Burn More Calories.  Eating less calories and moving more should work.  Should.  All plans CAN and DO work for those who make them work.  However it's often likely that diet plans fail us because they are impossible to stick with for ANY NUMBER OF REASONS.  Diet is a four letter word for a reason.  

For those morbidly obese individuals who have dieted and dieted and dieted and created a lose-lose situation:  weight loss surgery may very well be AN answer.  Because for some, dieting triggers a cycle:  lose weight temporarily, gain back MORE!  And, repeat the cycle until we find ourselves more obese than we started.   Certainly not everyone diets themselves to obesity, but it is a common theme. I "Weight-Watched" myself right up over 320 pounds, and I'm not sure I'll ever get over the WW Leader not allowing me to participate as a pregnant very obese woman.  I don't think I'll ever see my 'lifetime' goal that way.  Just saying.

But when do you consider weight loss surgery?  Opinions vary, however more than 200,000 people have surgery every year.   When should YOU consider it?  

Consumer Guide To Bariatric Surgery suggests - 

"Exercise and eating right are the best ways to lose weight. But many people have tried those methods for years and still can't lose excess weight — weight that can cause serious health problems. For people in this frustrating situation, weight loss surgery (bariatric surgery) may be an option."

I think that's what I just said.

Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston MA states the basic standards regarding your eligibility -

Patients must meet specific criteria, based on guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health, before they will be considered for an evaluation with our team.  Most patients who enter our program have a BMI of 40 or greater. Other factors that suggest surgery may be a good option include: 

  • Be a minimum of 100 pounds overweight.
  • Serious medical conditions related to weight, such as diabetes, sleep apnea or heart disease. (If these are present, surgery may be considered if the BMI is between 35 and 40.)
  • Age between 18 and 65 years (with some exceptions)
  • A long history of obesity, with many failed attempts at weight loss
  • No current issues with drug or alcohol abuse
  • No serious psychiatric illness, such as problems that would impair someone’s ability to follow a program of lifetime health management and follow-up 

If you qualify, SHOULD YOU DO IT?  It's a personal choice.  It really, really is important that you weigh your options.  Everyone has an opinion, and we know opinions are like ... right.  

Do what you feel is right in your situation, talk it over with your doctors, and make your decision based on all factors.  I am not going to suggest any particular surgery, I'm not qualified to do so.  Technologies change -- and your health requires certain attention there are various surgeries and there are more out there for the future.  Please consider other people's experiences in your decision process, but DO NOT BASE YOUR DECISION ON ANY ONE ELSE'S OUTCOMES.  Surgical outcomes are 100% invididual.  

My experience is unlike anyone else.  My husbands' experience also unlike anyone else.  He and I had gastric bypass five weeks apart, and our results were nothing alike.  Extended family members have also had various outcomes, all with the same surgery within 2000-2006.

Do I think YOU should have surgery?  I can't tell you that, I have no professional capacity to tell you what to do.  My feeling as of TODAY -- in 2011 -- nearly eight years post op?  I think someone who has exhausted other options, and is sick with  co-morbidities of obesity should consider weight loss surgery.  Surgery does work.  Regardless of type, they ALL do the trick, at least for a time and if you continue to work it -- you can succeed.  There are various risks with all procedures, so base your decisions on those as well.

I am uncomfortable with patients (particularly adolescents and very young women) having weight loss surgery with no long term history of obesity or comorbidities.  But that's me, right now and likely because of my own place in this.  I was a very young woman with no comorbids when I had gastric bypass, and I think I rushed into it a bit clueless.  

I am also the parent of four children, and at least one or two of them will qualify for bariatric surgery at some point.  My family is a ticking time bomb.  I know this and I reserve the right to change my mind.  It has happened several times in the last 8-10 years.  That said, I am technically a success.  I am nearly eight years post op and still holding a normal body weight.  It worked.  So is Mr.  

Before --


7.5 years later --


Take what you will from the internet, and your searches, but the choice is ultimately yours.

I want to hear from post op readers, though, what made YOU decide to have weight loss surgery?   Was it a success?





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