I want to preface this by telling you this article is based on personal experience, backed up with actual facts and figures. I also want to say that for many, gastric bypass surgery has been a very positive and lifesaving experience. My goal here is to simply inform you of the dangers, side effects and very difficult dietary requirements that go along with gastric bypass. I strongly urge anyone considering weight-loss surgery to exercise ALL of your options first, before taking such drastic measures.
In May of this year my wife underwent gastric bypass surgery. She was not morbidly obese, but she was overweight. She had high blood pressure and a family history of cardiac issues. She also had cardiac syncope issues that caused her to pass out. Gastric bypass seemed like a good option. We did our research and for the most part it seemed like a safe, very popular procedure that would alter her life forever and help her lose weight. Well it has altered our life forever, however not in a good way.
Three surgeries, 5 endoscopies, 4 upper GI’s and two cat scans resulting in multiple lengthy stays at 4 hospitals and over 10 trips to the ER and as of today, the doctors still can’t figure out why she can’t eat. Every time she does she suffers severe nausea, and she is ALWAYS in pain. The fact is, this is not unusual, and since this has happened I have personally come across 5 people who have friends and relatives dealing with the same exact situation.
The Mayo Clinic states among other issues:
In the first three to six months after surgery, as the body reacts to rapid weight loss, you may experience one or more of the following changes (some changes are due to a slowing of the body’s metabolism from weight loss and usually resolve with time):
- · Body aches
- · Feeling tired (flulike)
- · Feeling cold when others feel comfortable
- · Dry skin
- · Hair thinning and hair loss
- · Changes in mood
- · Relationship issues
After rereading these side effects, I must say I have seen every single one take place with my wife.
You must be very thorough when researching this matter. The medical community use words like “may” and “could” which detour your thoughts and ease you into a sense of comfort. Also the use of the word “rarely” is very common, but 10-20% of people who have this surgery, need a follow-up operation to correct complications. Gallstones develop in 1/3 of patients. 30% of patients have nutritional deficiencies that result in health issues such as anemia and osteoporosis; those odds don’t seem too rare to me.
One interesting statistic which I find deceiving is the death rate. You will get plenty of stats on death rate from the surgery. Basically they or 1 or 2 per thousand. The realization occurs when you start to take in account how many people die from long term complications.
Take a Closer Look
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reports that 21.9% of patients have complications while still in the hospital and 39.6% within 6 months. That is 4 out of 10 people have complications. 4 out of 10. These complications aren’t fun either, the most common one is referred to as “Dumping Syndrome”. This results from the body not accepting what you are feeding it. I have spoken to people who have experienced “Dumping Syndrome” and they tell me to take the stomach flu and multiply it by 10. It is painful, and can last for several days.
Another surgical problem results from the surgical joining of stomach and intestine. Please research terms such as “Candy Cane Syndrome” and “Lazy Rue”. My wife has both and the scars and scar tissue has resulted in blockages, making her unable to eat without getting sick.
Finally, nutritional deficiencies may cause a multitude of long term health problems. Protein deficiency can weaken the immune system. Vitamin-D deficiencies can cause cancer. Low calcium can cause hyperthyroidism. All these things will eventually kill you, so like I said, TAKE A CLOSER LOOK!
What has happened to my wife is not normal, but it’s not entirely uncommon either. Bariatric surgery is still in its adolescence, the Roux-en-Y laparoscopic gastric bypass was first performed in 1993, and long term effects have not been witnessed, therefore long-term statistics are muddled.
Gastric Bypass is not the Easy Way Out
Even if the surgery is a success and you don’t have too many complications, your life will completely change. Make sure you read the dietary requirements and give them good thought; are you the type of person that can follow them, because your life will depend on it.
Take for example the protein intake. Once you have gone through the 12 week post-surgery diet you can begin to eat regular foods. It is imperative you get 65 grams of protein per day for women and 80 grams for men. That is a lot of beans and peanut butter. There are no over-the-counter protein pills. There are protein drinks, but many people can’t stomach them because of the chalky after taste.
Remaining hydrated is another task you should not under estimate. The average person needs 48-64 ounces of water a day. Take in account the fact that you can’t drink 30 minutes before a meal and one hour after. If you’re eating 6 small meals a day, that’s 9 hours of no drinking. Most people get about 7 hours of sleep, so now you have 8 hours to get a days’ worth of liquids. You can’t chug them, therefore you will be sipping all day long.
Vitamins are key, and because you aren’t getting enough in your diet, you will have a strict regimen you must abide by or risk becoming malnourished. They include:
- · 2 chewable multivitamins
- · 2 chewable calcium
- · B12 vitamin sublingual lozenge or strip
- · Vitamin D
- · Iron supplements
For some people this is a large undertaking as iron pills often constipate you and some vitamins can upset your stomach.
These are just a few of the requirements so again, I urge you to do your research. Do not take your doctors word for it, this surgery is a business, a big business and represents a great deal of money. I recommend you ask people. Many people don’t ask; they feel a sort of shame because they are considering this surgery, DON”T! This is your life and you need to be well aware of any and all risks.
Not all Bad
I can’t write this article and expect it to have validity if I did not tell you of the benefits of weight-loss surgery because in many cases it does work. The benefits outweigh the risks by a mile. There is even research showing that gastric bypass can reverse the effects of ageing and diabetes and protect against heart disease and cancer. But so does weight-loss the old fashioned way, diet and exercise.
I will end with this; my wife is suffering right now. She is laying in a bed at VCU hoping they can find answers, hoping they can find a way to stop the pain and allow her to live a normal life. We have heard the words, “fatal condition” several times, however she continues to fight. She has lost almost 90 pounds since May, for that she is grateful. Her blood pressure is normal and she hasn’t had a syncope issue in months, so the results were positive, but the cost has been unbearable.