Health: Short Cuts? Not Really (Part 2)

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Last week’s column focused on the various types of surgery one can have to help achieve weight loss. We concluded that while some are definitely less invasive than others, all carry a fair to extremely high risk of serious side effects and post-surgical complications.   

Some of the side effects and complications include:

  • Infection of the incisions or of the inside of the abdomen (peritonitis, abscess) due to release of bacteria from the bowel during the operation
  • Hemorrhage of the many blood vessels that must be cut in order to divide the stomach and to move the bowel. Any of these may later begin bleeding, either into the abdomen (intra-abdominal hemorrhage), or into the bowel itself (gastrointestinal hemorrhage). 
  • Hernia may result from surgery and re-arrangement of the bowel, and is mainly significant as a cause of bowel obstruction. An incisional hernia occurs when a surgical incision does not heal well; the muscles of the abdomen separate and allow protrusion of a sac-like membrane, which may contain bowel or other abdominal contents, and which can be painful and unsightly. The risk of abdominal wall hernia is markedly decreased in laparoscopic surgery.
  • Bowel obstruction, which would require additional surgery to correct.
  • Venous thromboembolism, as there is an increased probability of formation of clots in the veins of the legs, or sometimes the pelvis, particularly in the morbidly obese patient.
  • Anastomotic leakage, Anastomotic stricture, and Anastomotic ulcer are also possible consequences. 

Sometimes, it is the unknown which is the most frightening.  Vitamins and minerals are all essential for basic health and bodily function.  These are generally absorbed in the lower digestive tact, especially in the intestines.  This absorption is now much less than a normal person’s.  And this indicates the possibility of long-term problems of malnutrition.  Supplementing will only go so far.  And there is no supplement that can totally take the place of the value obtained from consuming whole foods. 

In addition, most bariatric patients don’t reach their final weight loss goals.  Yes, it is true that many have substantial weight loss, but very few can possibly reach a true healthy weight as their inability to eat properly after the surgeries can slow their metabolism.  But what is truly interesting about this, is that once you have had the surgery, you must make lifestyle modification changes in order to be successful.  So, why not make those changes without the surgery and put in the hard work necessary to be healthy and fit without all of the risks involved?  No, don’t go on a diet – it will fail.  But a program combining good nutrition, exercise and behavior modification will do the trick.  Oh, and one more thing.  The average cost of bariatric surgery is $30,000. 

The bottom line? Doing Gastric Banding or doing a Bariatric Bypass procedure can help alleviate many medical problems and chronic health issues, but not without substantial risk and expense.  There are other – and better – ways.  Eating properly, exercising and most of all, working on modifying your behaviors will, G-d willing “add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life. 

Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a LIFESTYLE FITNESS COACH with over 15 years of professional experience. He is the co-director of the Jerusalem-based weight loss and stress reduction center Lose It! along with Linda Holtz M.Sc. and is available for private consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at [email protected] 

Check out the Lose It! website at www.loseit.co.il. US Line: 516-568-5027


1 COMMENT

  1. “There are other – and better – ways. Eating properly, exercising and most of all, working on modifying your behaviors will, G-d willing …“add hours to your day, days to your year and years to your life.”

    Gee thanks for nothing skinny pickle doc! For those of us who had Gastric Bypass or banding, we did it because your way DIDNT WORK! You have to realize something your way DOESNT WORK all the time! Like it didnt work for me! However I had GBS almost 10 years ago and I lost about 250 pounds. I am happy where I am now and I would do it again in a second if I had to do it over again!