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Weight Loss Surgery

As a society, we have become more health conscious and concerned with weight gain so it comes as no surprise that there is a plethora of weight loss options, from dieting to elective weight loss surgery. However, for many obese individuals, it is not only an issue of aesthetics. Obesity can cause serious health issues. Obesity is often associated with health problems such as hypertension, gall bladder disease, diabetes and high cholesterol. Today, individuals are trying more unorthodox methods of losing weight and increasingly turning to weight loss surgery as a solution.

Stomach Stapling & Gastric Bypass

People have undergone weight loss surgery since 1954. Weight loss surgery is an operation which can involve anything from gastrointestinal surgery to stomach stapling (gastroplasty) to gastric bypasses (jejunoileal bypass). Other weight loss surgery options are stomach wrapping, jejunocolic bypass, truncal vagotomy and biliopancreatic diversion. These operations work on the premise that by creating a small stomach pouch, individuals will lose weight because they feel fuller. The size of the pouch prevents individuals from over eating as individuals feel ill when they eat more then what the pouch can accommodate.

Lap-Band Adjustable Gastric Banding System

The latest weight loss surgery to come out of the medical world is a procedure which involves inserting a ‘band’. The operation involves surgically inserting a ‘lap band’ in the stomach, which is designed to limit food consumption and give the person a sense of fullness. The band is implanted through elective keyhole surgery (laparoscopic) and is tailored made to suit the individual. Saline is injected into the band to form a smaller gastric band which limits calorie intake. The band is highly versatile and can be adjusted (tightened or loosened) according to the dietary needs of the individual. This type of weight loss surgery claims to be more effective and less invasive then current weight loss procedures. A three year study on the lap band revealed that after this type of weight loss surgery, sixty six per cent of the patients involved loss at least a quarter of their weight. However there were some patients who experienced at least one if not more of the following side effects: vomiting, heartburn, band slippage, and abdominal pain.

The Debate on Weight Loss Surgery

Weight loss surgery is a very sensitive issue. An obese person is classified as a person who weights more than 100b or double their ideal weight. Being obese is not only a health issue but is also a social issue which face many developing countries. Weight loss surgery claims to increase longevity and improve health. It has been refined to prevent complications and alleviate discomfort for patients. Individuals who are obese usually have associated health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. Advocates of weight loss surgery argue that it can assist in managing these problems. On the flipside, critics argue that there is currently no conclusive evidence to suggest that weight loss surgery increases life expectancy or improves health.They purport that weight loss surgery often involves a second or third operation to fix problems which arise after the initial surgery. They contest that this is dangerous and the surgery is very complicated. They state that when weight loss surgery goes wrong, it can be life threatening.

The health risks to weight loss surgery are pulmonary embolism, liver disease, kidney disease, stomach cancer, esophagus, pancreas and bowel; and vascular thrombosis, just to name a few. They also contend that obese people should exhaust all options to lose weight before resorting to weight loss surgery, which they view as the last option. They encourage individuals to join support groups, try psychotherapy and exercise regularly. They believe that non-surgical treatments are much more effective that weight loss surgery.

Weight Loss Surgery: For

  • Quick weight loss
  • Improved health
  • Increased longevity
  • Psychosocial adjustment
  • Decrease in economic costs
  • Reduce health problems associated with obesity such as diabetes and hypertension

Weight Loss Surgery: Against

  • 90% of patients experience at least one side effect
  • Dangerous and complicated
  • Not as effective as other methods such as non-surgical treatments
  • Can be uncomfortable
  • Expensive
  • Weight loss surgery can increase risk of other health issues
  • Not effective long term and viewed as a ‘quick fix’

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