The reality of Weight Loss surgery long term 

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If you have attended a bariatric surgery seminar, have you ever heard much about what condition your body will be in, in 10 or 20 years?   If you ask most weight loss surgery surgeons about long term patients, they will tell you they don't know any or only know a couple, 8-10 years post op which isn't really long term.

People have this surgery to prolong their lives, they say or so they can see their kids or grandkids grow up.  Sadly, many patients don't live long enough to see their kids or grandkids grow up.  My friend, Trish, who had a VBG, died when her daughter was 18 and her husband was in his 50's even though she had to have her VBG taken down, 6 years before her death when her stoma (where food entered the stomach) totally closed up. They could never remove

Vicki Barrett died in 2010
She was 48

the staples from her stomach and had to partially remove her stomach to allow her to eat again.  She is not the first long termer who did not survive, for whom the surgery not only did not work to keep her slim but caused illness and more in her life. My friend, Vicki, died before her second grandchild was born.  She was only 48. She had originally lost 30 lbs after her gastroplasty and had to fight obesity as well as vitamin deficiency and B12 shortages, ever since.

Surgeons tell us that clinically obese people will live longer if they have weight loss surgery but those of us who have many clinically obese people in the family have seen them live into their 60's and 70's and sometimes longer rather than dying in their 40's and 50's as so many of these weight loss surgery patients do.

The patient below, Jodee, wrote this letter after Trish's death - it's about her experiences after an intestinal bypass and is reprinted with her permission:

I had my intestinal bypass when I was 16 years old, had it reversed when I was 31 after 15 years of malabsorption and only a 50 pound weight loss. I was only 222 when the doctors talked my parents into weight loss surgery. Please, I have been as high as 325 since then and no way in hell I would even consider weight loss surgery again.

Long term.. let's see... I have a sed rate in the 90's and will for the rest of my life because there will always be inflammation in my small intestine as confirmed by nuclear body scans. In addition to the inflammation in my small intestine, my colon is discolored from the years of malabsorption which caused severe diarrhea.

I have tried so many times to talk people out of weight loss surgery and again and again and again I fail to do so.

Fact is, weight loss surgeries do not work for the majority of people. Even for those who feel that it did work, are you sure you couldn't have done it yourself without the surgery. Consider the fact that you still have to diet and exercise and do everything right to see the loss on the scale. Honestly did you really need to be cut and change your internal organs forever?

I have lost 130 pounds over the last 9 months myself with a strict diet and taking myself off of all drugs accept thyroid medication. I have been dismissed from care from my allergist/asthma doctor, from my endo doctor who I saw for diabetes, etc.

I have fixed everything that obesity was causing, but I can never fix my intestines and permanent damage caused to my colon from the weight loss surgery.

So guess what, those of you who think long-term you're fine.. you probably are not. But good luck!


Do you think that the modern surgeries are free of this type of repercussions? Not true! According to the ASMBS, any surgery involving a bypass of the small bowel, including the gastric bypass as well as the duodenal switch, can be expected to be at risk for "at least some of" the repercussions of the intestinal bypass including liver and kidney failure, protein deficiency, mineral and electrolyte imbalance, chronic diarrhea, fragile brittle bones which break or shatter easily, bowel obstruction, partial paralysis of the legs (a gastric bypass patient friend of mine is in a wheelchair from this repercussion)

What about the lap band?  Although lap band patients claim to not be at risk for the JIB repercussions as are other surgeries, they have their own set of repercussions.

Some longer term patients complain about it growing into their stomachs or causing a perforation (hole) in their stomachs, requiring removal.  Most patients I've met, complain about discomfort like the stomach swelling in the morning, making it difficult or impossible to eat.  I've seen several lap band patients, take 2 hours to drink a glass of juice or to eat a bowl of soap.

Other lap banders complained that it wasn't really causing permanent weight loss.

The new vertical gastric sleeve?  It's just another gastroplasty like Vicky Barrett had only more invasive - Vicky had her entire stomach - but VSG patients have 90 percent of their stomachs removed.  Is it effective?  Our site advisor, a weight loss surgery surgeon says he's placed several bands in VSG patients who have had a lot of weight gain.

And all weight loss surgery patients who have kept some weight off, do the same things that people who have not had surgery do - count calories, measure food and exercise regularly.

Weight loss surgery is not only NOT a quick fix but it may not be a long term fix for many people. Jodee's story is not unusual - I've heard the same type of thing from patients with all procedures including the drastic duodenal switch which includes a long intestinal bypass and the removal of most of the stomach.

The Swedish Obesity study found that 10 years after surgery (including all procedures done), the average BMI was 35 (still very obese) and only 36% of diabetics were in remission. (New England Journal of Medicine: Volume 351:2683-2693 December 23, 2004 Number 26 Lifestyle, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors 10 Years after Bariatric Surgery Lars Sjostrom, M.D., Ph.D et al)

Before you consider surgery, consider the experiences of long termers.  "Who does not study history is doomed to repeat it."