Weight Loss

Gastric Bypass Surgery Is No ‘Miracle Cure’

Date: 4 March, 2013

Gastric bypass surgery… it’s no joke, I tell you.

Recently I told you about the extra 7kgs I gained in the past year. It turns out that by allowing a few bad habits to slip into my daily routine, I gained weight at a very slow and unnoticeable rate.

When my doctor warned me about my weight gain, I was surprised and a bit disappointed. However, since then I have put my mind to it and started a rigorous exercise regime, and I steer well clear of those cakes I love so much. If I stick to this, I know I’ll be back to my normal weight in no time.

I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for someone who constantly struggle with their weight… losing a few pounds, only to gain 15 or 20 back… counting calories, only to plateau for months at a time. It must be a terrible roller coaster that could easily leave you feeling depressed and worse about yourself every time another dieting attempt fails.

So I can imagine how appealing it would be to hear about an ultimate solution. Something dramatic that would put all the frustrations to rest.

A solution like that would be even more tempting for someone struggling with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

This solution exists. For some, it works. But there’s a catch — and it’s a big one.

An ordinary miracle

If you consult with a bariatric surgeon, don’t expect him to talk you out of gastric bypass surgery. He’ll assume you’re looking for a surgical solution. One he’ll be all too happy to provide.

Years ago, doctors saw type 2 diabetes reversed in some gastric bypass surgery patients. So gastric bypass surgery developed a “miracle cure” reputation.

But you know how it is with miracle cures. There’s always a few things patients are not being told.

A new study evaluated more than 4,400 gastric bypass surgery patients and showed that within five years, two out of three patients achieved type 2 diabetes remission. But five years later, one-third of those remissions relapsed.

That puts the 10-year success rate at 44 per cent… which is not that great.

However, a lot of patients did succeed. But for many of them, you can be sure there were horrific moments along the way.

About 40 per cent of gastric bypass surgery patients suffer side effects. These include abdominal hernias, infections, acid reflux, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

Researchers link gastric bypass surgery with neurological problems too, like cognitive decline and progressive vision loss.

Then there’s the death rate…

In a Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study, researchers followed medical records for 16,000 gastric bypass surgery patients. In the 35-44 age group, 5 per cent of men and 3 per cent of women died within one year of surgery. Death rates were even higher in older age groups.

But there’s one last detail that puts a permanent tarnish on this silver bullet solution.

Lifestyle and dietary changes are essential to gastric bypass surgery success. Daily exercise is a must. Patients have to diligently manage their calorie intake. No snacking. No junk food. Simple carbs are kept to a minimum.

Ummm… I’m no surgeon, but I’m pretty sure if you follow those guidelines, you’ll lose weight anyway. In fact, I know you will. You might even reverse type 2 diabetes… without going under the knife.

Most importantly – without the terrible risks.

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“A Multisite Study of Long-term Remission and Relapse of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Following Gastric Bypass” Obesity Surgery, Vol. 23, No. 1, January 2013, springer.com

“Diabetes May Recur After Bariatric Surgery” Larry Hand, Medscape, 12/6/12, medscape.org

“And we thought the last bag was expensive! Olsen twins trump $39k backpack with new $55k version co-designed by Damien Hirst” The Daily Mail, 12/3/12, dailymail.co.uk

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