Health Risks After Weight Loss Surgery - My Bariatric Life

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • The purpose of weight loss surgery is to lose weight.

    While this statement is self-explanatory and obvious at face value, a scratch across the surface might reveal the layers of hope that lie beneath. Hope is of great value, but hope without direction will not produce the desired outcome.

    Therefore, let’s explore what weight loss surgery is not meant to address.

    Weight loss surgery will not cure depression. Weight loss surgery will not cure addiction. Weight loss surgery will not magically bring permanent joy. Weight loss surgery will not bring romance. While any given attribute might be enhanced as a result of weight loss surgery, many of these results are premiums of the core function. The purpose of weight loss surgery is to lose weight. Believing it is a blanket cure for co-morbidities is faulty, and hope will not change that.

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    Health Issues After Gastric Bypass Surgery

    While gastric bypass surgery and the weight loss that follows helps to address health issues that accompany obesity such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and sleep apnea, health issues such as depression and addiction are more difficult to resolve.

    Suicide After Gastric Bypass Surgery

    In a study conducted between 1995 and 2004 of over 16,000 Pennsylvania residents who had gastric bypass surgery, it was found that the suicide rate among those weight loss patients was substantially higher than among  the general population.

    Of the 16,000 bariatric patients, 16 committed suicide. The number may be greater whereas some of the deaths listed as drug overdose may have been suicide. The average number of suicides among a general population for the same number of people in the study would be 2.

    Researchers noted that a subset of the patient study group suffered from depression and were at higher risk for suicide. Recommendations were made to improve psychological follow-up for weight loss patients

    Substance Abuse After Gastric Bypass Surgery

    In what has been termed addiction transfer, researchers have observed that a high number of people who have had gastric bypass surgery begin abusing substances following the procedure.


    Some psychologists believe that patients simply exchange one compulsive behavior for another. Some of the research suggests that the biochemical causes for compulsive eating are very similar to the biochemistry of alcoholism and other substance addictions.

    Some studies using neuroimaging contend that obese people and alcoholics have abnormal levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to control the brain’s pleasure and reward center. Dopamine contributes to cravings.

    A further cause for concern is that some weight loss procedures change how alcohol is metabolized. Gastric bypass patients are more sensitive to the effects of alcohol and report more rapid intoxication than those in the general population.

    In addition, a study conducted in Stockholm found that those who had gastric bypass surgery are twice as likely to become alcoholic than those who had lap band surgery.

  • Many gastric bypass surgery centers now incorporate addiction counseling into pre-surgery therapy.

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    Medscape Education - accessed 6/1/12 - accessed 6/1/12
    The Lancet - accessed 6/1/12
    Treatment Solutions - accessed 6/1/12
    Yahoo Voices - accessed 6/1/12

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    My Story...
    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: June 07, 2012