Is gastric bypass surgery worth it?

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As a nurse, I’ve seen and taken care of a few (insert sarcastic gesture) patients who have undergone one of the many different types of gastric bypass surgery. I’m not here to discuss the many different options when it comes to choosing which ‘type’ of bypass surgery is better or worse. I’m here to ask if having surgery to lose weight is really worth it?

Gastric bypass surgery (Bariatric Surgery) has been around for quite some time now (sorry don’t know how long). It’s obviously an alternative to the traditional means of weight loss. I’ve always viewed it as a ‘last ditch effort’ for all those individuals who are wanting to lose weight because of impending and debilitating health conditions that are robbing them of a safe and functional life. It’s for those morbidly obese individuals, at least that’s what I used to think.

Recently I’ve seen just the obese population electing to undergo these surgeries?? Yes, just the over weight population. Those individuals that just want to lose weight – who aren’t happy with their current weight. No, I don’t have exact numbers, or statistics. All I can say is they aren’t what I consider in the ‘last ditch effort’ category.

I’m still trying to understand and comprehend why someone would want or elect to have this surgery? I wholeheartedly understand the concept of wanting to eliminate the obesity and all the difficulties that go along with it, but to have surgery??

Surgery is a big step. A big and risky step. Surgery all by itself is risky. You have the anesthesia risks. You have the complications of infection as well as the recovery that is involved. I won’t even mention the possible side effects and complications of the surgical changes done to your body!

The recovery process is – to put it bluntly – brutal. You have to follow a strict diet plan that is done in increments. You will have to recover from the ‘surgical’ portion of this puzzle, then have to battle all the stipulations of your strict new lifestyle.

You will have a new type of diet regimen. You can or cannot have certain foods, as well as how much you eat in one sitting. You will have to start an exercise regimen. Your new lifestyle will be tough, grueling and imminent. If you don’t follow any and all the expected stipulations you have a risk of reversing or damaging the surgical procedure. Worse yet, causing damage to an array of anatomical and physiological structures! Any deviation from the rules can and will cause physical damage that could require additional surgery!

Surgery versus traditional means always puzzles me. So here is how I broke it down between traditional and surgical weight loss:

Traditional

  • Must follow a healthier lifestyle
  • Some type of exercise regimen
  • Better food choices
  • In it for the long haul
  • Will see small incremental changes over a long period of time, but will get permanent changes
  • If you slip up with your regimen, you simply start over.

Surgical

  • Must follow a healthier lifestyle
  • Some type of exercise regimen
  • Better food choices
  • Must only eat certain food
  • Must only eat a certain amount of food at once
  • In it for the long haul
  • Will see immediate changes – will have to make changes over a long period of time, but will get permanent changes
  • Surgical procedural risks
  • If you ‘slip’ up with your regimen you can cause physical harm.

Once again, please take all this with a grain of salt. There are definitely individuals that need this surgery in order to better their health and save themselves from shortening their life. Obesity can be deadly, short term and long term.

Is the risk really worth it?

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