If you’ve battled significant weight issues, undoubtedly you’ve been accosted by various diets and surgery options from well-meaning loved ones, doctors and friends.
Perhaps you’ve even attempted some of the suggestions, though you’ve saved the more invasive-surgery-based options for a later, more desperate date.
Truth be told, you might be a little reticent about removing, banding or stapling parts of your unique infrastructure.
Not to worry, that’s an admirable reticence and one we’d wholly back here because the risks of weight loss surgery are real. In fact, surgeries of any type, cosmetic or medically “necessary” should be carefully considered and all possible alternatives evaluated.
That’s what we’d like to assist you with here. We’ll take a look at the dangers of various surgery options and some possible alternatives therein.
In this surgery methodology, which has been hailed as a safer surgery than other options, part of your stomach and/or small intestine is removed to stimulate weight loss.
The bariatric doctors will tell you that the risks associated with obesity far outweigh (isn’t that an amusing word choice) those linked to organ removal!
Something about cutting out pieces of your body that still work, just seems wrong to us!
This option may be just as disturbing as the previous one. Apparently, a pouch is made in your stomach and your small intestine is moved from its natural position into one that allows your food intake to “bypass” your stomach (where your digestive enzymes congregate) and enter directly into your intestinal tract.
From a logical standpoint one has to wonder how vitamins are attained if all the food you ingest is immediately considered waste.
In simplistic terms, a rubber band (actually it’s inflatable and adjustable) is put around the top part of your stomach to limit your ability to ingest large portions.
Some see this as a better option because there’s not much cutting going on. Other people are bothered by the addition of a foreign object. We’ll be looking at the dangers pretty soon, so keep reading!
Sleeve gastrectomy is probably the least known of the weight loss surgery options. However, this too involves significant cutting.
Essentially the surgeon cuts your stomach into a much smaller, sewn together, tube shape. Yes, you read that right, he basically makes you a new, smaller stomach.
So what’s the Problem?
Aside from the insanely obvious surgically based, ordinary risks, there are additional, surgery specific problems that have to be considered prior to taking this leap.
First of all, there’s the potential to develop anemia due to the inability to absorb iron via the food you’re barely eating.
You might be chewing it, but in most of these instances it’s not getting much further than that before you’re “done” with it (if you catch our drift – hopefully you’re not downwind).
In addition, your chances for bone deterioration, osteoporosis and malnutrition are significantly impacted. Calcium has to be absorbed to maintain strong bones, and as with most other malabsorptive procedures, this ability will be decreased.
Malnutrition can then set in as the body realizes that it isn’t receiving (or at least accessing) the vitamins and nutrients it needs for sustenance and continued well-being.
More specific effects can be experienced as well, like excess skin. These weight loss surgeries are designed to be drastic and with rapid weight loss the skin’s elasticity cannot keep up thereby leaving patients reminiscent of the saggy baggy elephant (sorry, but it’s true).
Then of course there’s the dumping syndrome (too much food hits the intestines too fast) causing sweats, diarrhea and fainting potential. When this gets really bad, there’s the possibility for long term nausea or an inability to even tolerate a meal.
A few final scare-you-away-from-surgery considerations:
- Erosion – The band rubs a raw spot on your insides.
- Damage to the Spleen During Surgery – It’s really close to everything else being operated on (and sometimes a splenectomy is required in order to limit the excessive bleeding experienced therein).
- Suture Line Disruption (SLD) – This is when food slips through the staples into an area that can’t digest it; this can be life threatening.
- Hernia – One out of five weight loss surgery patients require additional surgery to fix hernias.
- Migration – The band moves and makes things too small, or becomes ineffective altogether.
- Stenosis – Basically, it’s the narrowing of the stomach outlet due to scar tissue.
- Leaking – Yep, that means what you think it means, leaking within your abdominal cavity.
What are the Alternatives?
We bet you had no idea that these surgeries were as serious as they are. In fact, up until now you might actually have been considering undergoing one of these methods.
We’ve known people who’ve been lap banded and gastric bypassed and while the first one had no success (the adjustable band had to keep being readjusted and weight loss was non-existent), the second one was (though the amount of skin she had to have removed, to even look remotely normal, cost a small fortune). Which leaves us wondering, what are the alternatives?
Perhaps the first step in avoiding surgery, and yet embracing weight loss, is to take that first step.
So many of us spend lengthy hours and mega-dollars on every possible diet option, fad, pill, or piece of equipment yet, we rarely “do” something about our vast personages.
When you’re considering weight loss surgery, it’s because you’ve got a lot to lose and that means your first steps are significantly different than the oh-I-wish-I-could-drop-10-pounds people.
We’re talking about upwards of 100 pounds, or more even. Experts suggest several immediate steps:
- Get Supervision – Obesity has other risks and therefore weight loss should be done under the supervision of a doctor who can keep her eye on your other potential problems.
- Join a Group – Knowing that other people are sharing in your struggles may help you cope with the process.
- Get Moving – Depending on size, even the smallest movements can be considered progress, just make a definitive effort to move as much as possible every day. [Read: 4 Fat Burning Workouts You Can Do in Under 20 Minutes]
- Utilize Weight Training – Muscles burn more calories, so building your muscles will be a huge help when it comes to working on the caloric intake/burn ratio.
- Don’t Cut Your Calories too Far – 1200 calories may be ok for some of the smaller weight loss contenders, but the bigger you are, the more you need. If you’ll just remember to cut 500 calories a day, you’ll see a pound a week drop for sure.
- Focus on Your Progress – It’s easy to get derailed on our weight loss journeys. However, if we’ll stay focused on how far we’ve come, we’ll remain encouraged to continue the voyage.
- Set Realistic Goals – Concentrate more on your health than the numbers on the scale. Remember you didn’t get this big overnight and therefore you won’t become a supermodel that quickly either (if ever).
- Don’t Hang onto the Dieting Mindset – Going on a diet implies you intend to go off. Make this a life change and not a short-lived, mostly ineffective, diet. [Also Read: Does Dieting Work?]
- Consider Medication/Supplements – Ask your doctor about medication options but also look at natural/holistic possibilities. Don’t forget to check out the supplements on our site as well!
Listen, weight loss is a journey. There’s no easy road, no magic bullet, secret pill or wrap (believe it or not) that’s going to truly alter your bodily dimensions. You will have to change your lifestyle and incorporate activity (read that as exercise if you dare) into it; it’s that simple. You can do it and we’d like to help. Feel free to comment below.