I read this article yesterday, and had mixed feelings on it. It sparked a VERY interesting discussion on the highly sensitive topic of WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) in my low carb group.
The photographer did an amazing job, by the way. Very impressive project.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the topic of Weight Loss Surgery?
Like I said, I have very mixed feelings on it – and find myself highly curious about the whole topic. Here’s the public WLS discussion on Facebook, by the way:
We’re also discussing it in the Private Low Carb Challenge Group.
Apologies in advance, I know this is a sensitive topic…
Let me start by saying I mean NO offense with this topic, or with my questions. As I said, I’m just highly curious about the topic of weight loss surgery – and have really enjoyed the various discussions on it so far.
Though I admit, those discussions did raise even more questions in my mind.
Personally, I’m AFRAID of surgery – after a horrific experience 2 1/2 years ago with anesthesia that dramatically affected my cognitive functions. For more than five straight months I had extreme migraines and was unable to keep count even up to THREE, so simple things like showering or making coffee became a HUGE ordeal.
It turns out anesthesia can dramatically affect cognitive function in a surprisingly high percentage of people – especially women over a certain age. I was shocked to discover that…
“one study found 42 percent of heart-bypass patients suffer significant drops in mental sharpness that can last not just months but years. Other research suggests 10 percent of hip-replacement patients suffer similar mental decline.”
I was only 39 years old, going through a “routine hysterectomy”, with no other health issues. It was a horrible and scary experience, and I’ll definitely think twice before ever having a surgery again! I also had physical complications with that surgery (a hysterectomy) that landed me on bed rest and in horrible pain for NINE weeks. My whole life was on hold for what should have been a 48 hour recovery. 🙁
Surgery would definitely be a last resort for me at this point – for any reason.
I’m also not a fan of blindly taking a doctor’s advice. One new doctor I went to a few years ago (for a sinus infection, mind you) grabbed me around the middle and said I should lose 50 pounds. He wanted to enroll me in his (expensive) Diet Clinic. Um, if I lost 50 pounds I’d look like a crack addict. 😐 lol. Seriously! 😛
Let’s backtrack to my real health problem, though…
For years I told my doctor about my symptoms, and felt “blown off” with simple explanations – it’s just hormones, it’s normal for your age, etc. At one point, several actually, she offered to do a procedure called Uterine Ablation.
“Basically we’ll just boil your uterus out.” Uh, no thanks. 😛
The symptoms got worse, and ultimately I found myself in horrible pain – then I started feeling strange movements in my lower abdomen. I insisted (and I had to get VERY insistent) on having an ultrasound. That’s when they discovered a large noncancerous tumor that had attached itself to my uterine lining and cut off the blood supply. Hormone treatment (medication) was tried first. Then they doubled the dosage. And tripled it. I ended up having an emergency hysterectomy 7 months later when the tumors started multiplying like YouTube trolls.
All that to say… a second (and even third) opinion, your own research, exploring EVERY option – those are all my first thoughts.
Surgery should be a DRASTIC last resort in my opinion – for ANY reason.
Getting back to the topic of Weight Loss Surgery specifically, though…
Is Weight Loss Surgery “The Easy Way Out”?
Most of the people that had a WLS in our discussion said the exact same thing, in the exact same words: “it’s not the easy way out”. I’m curious what that means exactly.
I’ve asked several times and haven’t gotten an answer on that yet – but I heard it about a dozen times during our discussion. It turns out (from what I can tell, anyway) that the phrase came from other people who said that to them. A condescending statement like “well, you took the easy way out” – meaning they disapproved of their not dieting and exercising to lose the weight instead.
* Is there something else behind this statement?
Post WLS Health & Weight Loss Challenges
Those who’ve had weight loss surgery say it’s still a constant daily challenge – to eat healthy and exercise, and to maintain the weight loss. While many reported they did experience dramatic weight loss in the first two years (not instantly, but over a 1-2 year period of time), many also reported regaining some of the weight and working hard to lose that and also maintain their weight loss.
“It takes work, just like anything else. If you do not make a serious lifestyle change, the surgery will only yield temporary results.”
In addition to that, many also have to take supplements and avoid certain foods (ie adhere to a restrictive diet). For some, the supplements are something that will be required FOR LIFE, not just during recovery. Some also experienced saggy skin which had to be removed through yet another surgery, due to weight loss happening too quickly.
My question is: If you had made a serious lifestyle change without the surgery, would you not have lost weight also? Given you have to make (and maintain) a long-term lifestyle change post-surgery… couldn’t you just do that without having to have surgery? One lady for example said she lost 206 pounds in about 18 months after WLS. That’s a loss of 11-12 pounds per month on average. Isn’t that possible, and easy enough really, without surgery?? Or am I missing something?
* Please forgive my blunt question. I know this is a sensitive topic. I’m just highly curious!!
The Underlying Causes & Issues Remain
After listening to the discussion over the last 24 hours, it doesn’t sound worth it to me. Many said they still crave food, some reported severe depression post-surgery, many commented the food issues and the cravings were still a constant struggle.
That plus the post-surgery lifestyle (supplements, restrictions, health issues, etc) concerned me more than a little. Still, most of those people say they don’t regret having WLS, and they would do it again in a heartbeat. (??)
I’ve never had weight loss surgery, and I struggle with those same things: food issues, emotional eating, food cravings, maintaining my weight loss, changing my thought processes about food, body image issues, etc.
I guess that’s what makes me so curious about it. You still have the same challenges you would have had otherwise – right? Right.
Do they make counseling required to help with the health/emotional issues, and do they offer counseling on “what to expect” health-wise long-term following the surgery?
Exactly how much counseling IS required or offered, and how hard do they work to help you fight your health issues – with surgery as a last resort? Or are the doctors and surgeons making more money encouraging you to have the surgery without much regard for other (healthier / safer) options?
Wouldn’t you still have the same issues and challenges after the surgery, or without the surgery? It seems so, from my perspective, but again – I haven’t had WLS, so I would love to hear from those of you that have!
Would You Do It? Or Would You Do Recommend It To Others?
Some people that opted for WLS had serious health issues (high blood sugar, diabetes, high cholesterol) that were life threatening, and the surgery was a means to quickly get to a healthier place in that regard. Some others were in pain and facing other surgeries if they didn’t lose weight fast, such as back and knee injuries.
I can certainly understand that. But listening in to the stories, if you are only going to lose 10-12 pounds a month over the course of a year or two, and that’s with strict diet and exercise recommended post-surgery, couldn’t you just easily lose that amount of weight in that amount of time… doing the strict diet & exercise?
Or again, am I missing something??
One lady had WLS to get off medication for diabetes, which was causing her serious health scares. Unfortunately that didn’t work and she still has diabetes (not the type they originally thought she had) and still has to take medication. She also still has to “diet” (for life), has certain dietary restrictions now, and still struggles with emotional eating. (I struggle with that too, btw – that’s a tough one!) Yet she STILL said she would do it all over again if she went back in time – and would recommend it to others.
(I feel sure I am most definitely missing something here. – ?)
“people researching weight loss surgery need to realize it [the post-surgery maintenance] is a lifetime commitment.”
I don’t mean to sound judgmental. I hope I don’t, because I’m truly just deeply curious. Especially given how “popular” it is these days to have weight loss surgery.
My own health and weight and physical fitness is a lifetime commitment for me TOO.
Especially since my “horrific hysterectomy” as I like to call it. From the discussion, I feel like I am going through all the same challenges as someone who had WLS (minus the need for so many supplements, and certain dietary restrictions) – without ever even having HAD the surgery…
I’m curious: for those of you that have had a weight loss surgery, and you’re happy you did, looking back… would you have tried low carb & exercise first if you knew then what you know now? Why or why not?
I’m also curious if there were any social drawbacks, such as negative comments from friends & family?
Lynn Terry, aka @LowCarbTraveler