You Don’t Need Surgery (A Rant)

Wendy has a friend from a long time ago that she just got back in touch with using Facebook. He appears to have been impressed with the results we got from our weight loss adventure, and they got to talking about it. He and his wife, apparently have been considering gastric bypass surgery to lose whatever weight they may have. I don’t know how much they weigh, or how much they need to lose, but it’s apparently quite a bit (I would hope) as they are considering the surgery and the doctors seem willing to do it for them.

One interesting tidbit I learned from Wendy after this conversation was over is that the doctors won’t perform the surgery until they lose 10% of their wieght. For a three hundred pound person, that’s 30 pounds, which is not insignificant. One other thing I know, from having another friend go through it, is that it severely restricts the amounts you can eat, and even the types of foods you can eat, and if you eat too much of anything or certain things, it can cause all sorts of problems. And one last note, if you watched The Biggest Loser last season and saw Ron, he’d had the same surgery, and it certainly didn’t solve his problem. Also, it’s surgery, so it costs a hell of a lot, and death is certainly a possibility.

The last three items alone, possibility of death, might not work, potentially unpleasant post surgery life, should make anyone think twice about the surgery, three times, even. But when you add in the first item, that you have to do a bunch of work on your own before they even let you have the surgery, why would you want to go through with it at all? Certainly, if you can lose 10% of your body weight, what’s preventing you from losing another 10%, and another?

The reason GB surgery works at all is because it limits your calorie intake and absorbtion. You just feel fuller, and it bypasses most of the stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. You can limit the calorie intake all on your own. Hell, the fact that they require you to lose 10% of your weight before the surgery should prove to you that you can do it. Very few people actually need the surgery.
So why do people opt for the surgery despite the risks and side-effects (see here: WebMD on Gastric Bypass)?

I have to think it’s due to two dangerous mindsets. The first is our media. In their desire to push the story out, and the prevailing idea that the media should just report and not get involved (though political media certainly seem to get involved), we have a situation where by reporting the statistics about obesity or the number of people who lose weight only to gain it right back, the media has taught us that you can’t, by yourself, lose weight and keep it off. What the media really needs to be doing when they report on these things is providing real information about how to go about solving whatever personal problem that you may have. Provide us the statistics, sure, but help us solve the problem, too.

The second is that people in our society want everything done right now for minimal effort. People look for quick fixes and fixes where they don’t have to put a lot of effort into it. This is why we have all sorts of fad diets and diet drugs, and any other quack idea that may relieve them of the need to actually do anything.

What you get when you combine those two is the mistaken belief that surgery is the answer, and it’s not. Did I say it already? If you lost 10% already, in order to get the surgery done, you can lose more without the surgery. You can limit your caloric intake if you want. You can put your mind and body to work and gain more out of it than just the weight loss. With weight loss that comes from a real fitness program, you gain confidence, and the ability to put your newfound confidence to work. And, you don’t have to put up with all the nasty side effects of the surgery.

Just to add one more nasty little statistic (you can see it in that article I linked to above), “One study noted that people lost about one-third of their excess weight (the weight above what is considered healthy) in 1 to 4 years.” One third of the excess weight? So a 400 pound man that should be 200 pounds loses 60 pounds in a minimum of 1 year? That’s not success in my book, it’s dismal failure. I’ve lost 60 pounds in 6 months from exercise and a well balanced, properly sized diet, and it didn’t cost me thousands of dollars, a painful surgery or years of dealing with vitamin deficiencies or anemia or lack of energy.

If your considering Gastric Bypass surgery, just don’t. There are better options.