One of my all time favorite actors, Dustin Hoffman, starred in a motion picture quite a few years back called Marathon Man. It was released around 1976 and has a particularly harrowing scene where poor old Dustin is getting his dental work readjusted by a madman who asks again and again, “Is it safe?”
Hoffman insists he does not know what the question means, anymore than you might know what I’m talking about at this exact moment if you have never seen that movie. Nonetheless, whether you have seen the picture or not, you can probably identify immediately with the question at hand: Is it safe?
Simply put, we like to know that we are safe. If there is any doubt in that regard then we seek reassurance that we are, in fact, quite safe.
Is it safe? Well, let’s find out.
Weight Loss Surgery as a Safe Resolution for Morbid Obesity
Speaking directly, gastric bypass surgery is a safe procedure if performed by a skilled surgeon in an appropriate medical facility. While no operation is without risk, the potential for mishap is minimal if the above criteria is met. In addition, the possibility of developing life-threatening health complications that stem from obesity are much greater than any complications that might present because of surgery.
Concerns of the Bariatric Patient
Perhaps the best way to discover patient concerns is to directly ask the patient what those concerns might be. A valid and unobtrusive way of doing this is to access postings on public internet sites.
Bariatric patients who were attending a support group at a major hospital in a Midwestern city were asked what Internet resource (if any) was used as an avenue of support. A site housing ten forums regarding specific concerns of bariatric patients was mentioned well beyond that of any other resource.
One-hundred and ninety-one postings were examined and the themes and concerns that presented most regularly were concerns about depression, fear of dying, and concerns about nutrition.
Those who posted concerns about depression were given support and empathy by peers. Numerous suggestions were made to seek professional help and website names and addresses were offered as resources.
Despite the fact that the fear of dying from bariatric surgery is mostly unrealistic, many people who were preparing for weight loss surgery expressed concerns regarding the possibility of death. Such individuals were again given community support and recommendations were made to seek spiritual guidance or invoke a bit of humor into the situation. Others offered support by exploring the unlikelihood of death as a result of bariatric surgery.
Nutritional deficiencies were also an area of concern for bariatric patients. Again, the support of peers and the weight loss community was readily available and much of the conversation revolved around the guidelines set by the American Society for Bariatric Surgery.
Mistakes in an Imperfect World
Although bariatric surgery is relatively safe, it is not absolutely safe. As noted earlier in this post, weight loss surgery is most safe when performed by a competent and experienced surgeon in a suitable and appropriate environment.
There is currently an uproar in Los Angeles regarding the practices of 1-800-GET-THIN. An anesthesiologist is being accused of gross negligence by the Medical Board of California for his role in the death of a 52 year old patient who had a lap band implant.
Two of the clinics associated with the 1-800-Get-Thin campaign have discontinued Lap-Band surgeries because the maker of the Lap-Band device refuses to sell to companies who are partnered with the advertising campaign. There is currently a torrent of pending lawsuits.
When seeking bariatric surgery, a cool eye on the overall safety of the procedure should be maintained as well as a mindful scrutiny of those you choose to incorporate into your medical team.
Internet Scientific Publications http://www.ispub.com/journal/the-internet-journal-of-health/volume-9-number-1/concerns-about-bariatric-surgery-internet-postings-of-patients.html - accessed 5/22/12
Los Angeles Times http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/08/business/la-fi-lap-band-20120208 - accessed 5/22/12
Warrenton Weight Loss Institute http://www.ispub.com/journal/the-internet-journal-of-health/volume-9-number-1/concerns-about-bariatric-surgery-internet-postings-of-patients.html - accessed 5/22/12
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You can read about my decision to have weight loss surgery back in 2003 and my journey to maintain a lifetime of obesity disease management since that time. My wish is to help you on your own journey of lifetime obesity disease management with shareposts along the way to help you navigate that journey successfully.
Published On: May 26, 2012