Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on Gastric Bypass Surgery

The Dangers of Gastric Bypass Surgery

I had gastric bypass surgery three months ago. I did not have lap band but decided to have the "stomach stapling" that is more permanent. My experiences reflect this type of surgery only. I know that some people are convinced that it is unsafe, but I feel that it has saved my life. Here are a few reasons why gastric bypass is safer than staying fat.

1. The co-morbidities

In the health field, co-morbitity means symptoms and disease processes that are related to the original disease. Morbid obesity is a fatal disease with many co-morbities. For instance, diabetes has been shown to have a direct correlation with obesity. More research needs to be done on this, but there is a very strong link between the two. Amputations and blindness, among other horrors, await those with this disease. I would rather have a fighting chance.

Joint issues, sleep apnea, and depression are all linked to obesity as well. These conditions severely effect quality of life and can be life threatening. What sort of life do you have when you can't even walk up a flight of stairs? No life at all, really. It is more dangerous to fight the co-morbitities than it is to risk surgery.

2. Death is not common

I work with bariatric patients as a nurse on a post op floor. I see all of the people who have the surgeries and all of those who come back with problems. In all of the time our practice has been open, there have been two deaths in a thousand. I put my life in the hands of this surgeon and trusted that this ultimate consequence would not happen to me. There are far worse complications to this surgery than death, and none of them are very common. We have 5-10 bariatric surgery patients on our floor, but we only see one or two back per every few months. Noncompliance is usually a determining factor for complications.

3. Compliance, compliance, compliance

The secret trick to safe bariatric surgery is to follow your surgeon's rules to the letter. Failing to do so will land you in the hospital time and again. You will be subjected to quite a bit of suffering. The risks of bariatric surgery come from the patient themselves in most situations. If don't drink liquids during meals, stop smoking, and eat your protein first, you will have a good chance of avoiding complications. Supplements are also important. Failing to take supplements can lead to crippling osteoporosis, deficiency of the B vitamins, and anemia. The non compliant patient is usually the patient with complications.

However, this is not always true. Things such as intractable nausea, bowel obstruction, and blood clots are largely out of the patient's hands. It is a gamble worth taking if it means a full life. My life expectancy before surgery was little more than sixty years of age -- if that. Now, however, it is open. The long term effects of this surgery have yet to be fully researched, but I feel I stand a better chance now. Gastric bypass surgery is safer than the population at large believes. As always, consult your doctor's beforehand. They know your health better than anyone. Do your research, ask yourself if you can face the difficulties of life after surgery, and be ready to take a gamble that just may save your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment