It was hard to imagine that Vinay, a boy who I had seen grow up with my children in the school where they studied, was no more, at the age of 21. As the news spread among us parents, we grieved, shocked that the boy who had for many years been known as the fattest boy in school had not lived even up to 25.
But what made the thought of this loss harder to bear for those who had known him, was that vinay had died during a surgery to cure his morbid obesity. Vinay had always stayed in our memory as a lovable personality who participated fully in academics and sports in spite of his girth. During his school years, he was extremely popular with both teachers and students. However, as a young adult, he was persuaded to undertake anti-obesity surgery to improve his personality.
Among the side effects of prosperity and a lifestyle marked by the absence of physical effort is growing obesity among children and adults. While herbal slimming pills, specialized diets, nutritional powders in place of food and other such means are tried by many, a few try surgery to restore their bodies to more manageable proportions. As people get more preoccupied with the need to maintain their public image, cosmetic surgery of all kinds is gaining currency. Rhinoplasty or a nose job has become a much more accessible surgery today, for instance, than it was even ten years ago.
But what needs to be clearly understood is that anti-obesity surgery is not a minor cosmetic surgical procedure. It is a major operation that can have life-threatening consequences. Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, is usually adopted by those who have been diagnosed as morbidly obese, or over 50 kg above their normal weight (according to height and age) and are unable to lose weight by any other means. This type of surgery includes a spectrum of procedures known as either restrictive, or malabsorptive, or those that combine the two. Restrictive procedures like Adjustable Gastric Banding and Vertical Banded Gastroplasty (VBG) reduce the size of the stomach, and malabsorptive and combined procedures such as RNY Gastric Bypass, Bilio-pancreatic Diversion, Fobi Pouch and Duodenal Switch (DS) reduce the bodys ability to absorb calories and nutrients from food.
The shocking demise of Vinay forced me to find out more about these surgical procedures that are often spoken loosely about in drawing room conversation as the medical equivalent of an appendix operation. In trying to gather more information, I found a long list of horror stories. If the surgery is truly as successful as it is claimed by some doctors, and the percentage of failures is very low, then so many deaths and so much post-operative suffering is truly alarming. An account of life after Gastric Bypass shows what patients may actually have to suffer, which doctors have not educated them sufficiently about, before the surgery.
Some doctors, I have been told, have actually told their patients they can continue with their lives as if nothing has changed, speaking as someone who has had this done I can tell you without a doubt If you have this surgery your life will never be the same again. Several people I know or have spoken with online have had this operation and not changed their life style, meaning they continue to eat as they did before the surgery, they have had very little weight loss as a result. If you do not change your eating habits, and the way you think about food your success will be limited, and this is way to painful as well as physically and emotionally exhausting to waste it by not doing your very best to make it a success. I can only eat a few ounces of food at a time and must eat 4 or 5 small meals a day as opposed to the usual 3.
If you choose to have this operation, one of things you will have to give up is hot meals because you are forced to eat so slow in order to control the nausea that your food gets cold long before you finish, and eating a diet of almost nothing but soft foods gets so depressing sometimes. Sometimes I would give anything just to be able to eat a slice of pizza or a bowl of ice cream like a regular person. To give you a better understanding of the portions you will be eating get a childs tea set, that is about the size of the the plates and cups you will need. Most people find that they can no longer eat and drink at the same time, but must wait for a half hour or so after meals before drinking. Another side effect not all doctors mention is the hair loss. Hair loss after this is very common, it is due to the body not getting enough vitamins and minerals any more, you will have to take supplements, quite likely for the rest of your life. Your system has enough stored so that you may not have any hair loss for a 4 to 6 months after the operation, but I have found that if you dont supplement your diet you will have significant hair loss.
The patient who described the above died four years after her Gastric Bypass. A very moving account of the suffering and loss that can accompany such a procedure is also provided by a patients husband, who has documented the circumstances leading to her death.
While it is unlikely that every person meets the same fate in any circumstances, considering the reported complications of Bariatric weight loss surgery, it is best that we stay informed and aware.