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Obesity Surgery Even Worse than Previously Thought

Obesity SurgeryA study has found that nearly half of a group of patients who received gastric band surgery for weight loss over ten years ago had the bands removed because of medical complications.

The study is the first to track laparoscopic gastric band surgery outcomes over a long period. The bands eroded in almost a third of the patients, and sixty percent went on to undergo additional weight loss surgery in spite of the bands.

According to the New York Times:

"Researchers concluded that the adjustable gastric band surgery, which is growing in popularity in the United States, 'appears to result in relatively poor long-term outcomes.' The results 'are worse than we expected,' said Dr. Jacques Himpens ... lead author of the new study."

Furthermore, significant bone loss has been shown to occur in teens receiving gastric bypass surgery, the same result that occurs in adults receiving this more invasive type of stomach surgery. Researchers took bone density measurements every three months for two years after the teen's surgeries and according to USA Today found that:

"Two years after the surgery, the bone mineral content of the 61 obese teens studied had declined, on average, by 7.4 percent."

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

First realize that although I have never been what is traditionally considered 'overweight', I have cared for well over 10,000 patients who struggled with their weight, so I am not oblivious to the issues. However gastric banding is not the magic bullet panacea that it is being promoted as.

There are powerful forces at work that motivate those who struggle with obesity to consider this option. There is no question that it is occasionally effective but at what price?

Since NO ONE was ever designed to have their gut artificially shortened, there are inevitable damages that occur in everyone undergoing this procedure. So the question becomes a risk/benefit analysis. We make these types of judgments every day and some risky procedures are worth it.

We all know that we can die when we travel by plane or auto yet most of us are willing to take that risk. However when you carefully examine the complications I review below, it is hard to imagine any rational individual ever choosing these procedures.

The results of the first ever long-term gastric banding study are now in, and they are not promising. Over a third of the adults receiving the surgery experience eroding bands, while a whopping 60 percent need additional surgery to address their weight problems.

Gastric Banding Surgery up Ten-Fold Since 2000

Gastric banding, known as the Lap Band, has increased in popularity for two main reasons.

  • First, the number of obese Americans has now surpassed the number of merely overweight Americans, which brings the total number of either overweight or obese to almost three quarters of the American population. And the increase is seen mostly in the number of obese people, according to the National Center for Health Statistics:

    "Although the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1980, the prevalence of overweight has remained stable over the same time period."

  • Secondly on February 16, 2011 the FDA approved lowering the BMI (body mass index) to qualify for health care-covered gastric banding surgery from 40 to 30 if health related conditions are present.

Remember it's hard to sustain a BMI of 30 for very long without exposing yourself to "health related conditions" like sleep apnea, GERD, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and certain cancers. A BMI of 30 is the minimum threshold to qualify as obese. So in other words, the requirements for this surgery have changed from morbidly obese to just barely obese, resulting in millions of more Americans qualifying for health care-covered gastric banding surgery.

Gastric bypass surgery, on the other hand, is both more invasive and still available only for the morbidly obese (those with a BMI of 40 or higher).

Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding Surgeries are NOT Normal

Gastric bypass refers to creating a small thumb-size pouch in the upper stomach which connects directly to the small intestine, thereby bypassing the majority of the stomach and leading to a greatly reduced stomach size. It is the more invasive procedure of the two surgeries, but less widely performed due to increased BMI requirements to qualify for insurance coverage.

Gastric banding refers to a surgery that inserts an inflatable silicone band into your stomach to create a smaller stomach size. Short-term, these procedures usually do produce significantly greater weight loss compared to lifestyle modification.

Both procedures limit the amount of food you can consume, and the rapid weight loss is clearly the natural effect of this forced starvation produced by the smaller stomach size.

But in exchange for this rapid weight loss, the health risks are VERY high, and long-term safety and effectiveness according to the featured article above are "worse than expected".

Some of the side-effects listed on can include:

"Vomiting: A common side effect. Due to overeating or eating large chunky food. Eating in a hurry or drinking water on an empty stomach can also cause this. But the important thing is it results with lap band slippage and slippage can cause hospitalization or re-operation. Nausea is also common. Esophageal dilation- This happens after the enlargement of esophageal. This means your pouch becomes too large and there is the problem of pushing food by the esophageal. As a result of this you can have bleeding, bloody unit, perforation, painful swallowing, heart burn etc.
Gastro esophageal reflux- Often a problem of an eating disorder. When you lay down after eating you may experience heart burn. This problem may be caused due to tightness of lap band system. Gallstones—Gallstones form in  the gallbladder, can have  abdominal pain with indigestion and vomiting because of rapid weight loss.
Difficulty swallowing- This is the problem of passing food from mouth to stomach. This results with reflux and vomiting.  Gastric perforation- Tearing of stomach wall is called gastric perforation. As a result of this, food comes out from your stomach. It may cause infection or other severe problem. It requires transplantation if it persists, otherwise repair is also an option.
Constipation- This is also a normal lap band surgery side effect. Happens due to the liquid food taken. Pancreatitis- enlargement of the pancreas. You can have breathing problems, bacterial infection etc. after this.
Stomach obstruction- If your lap band is not placed at correct position then you can have an obstruction of the stomach opening. This problem has been faced by almost 14% of banders. Lap band slippage—lap band may slip from its place due to any reason like vomiting and this can result in hospitalization and re-operation."

Other possible lap band surgery side-effects include diarrhea, hair loss and protein deficiency, rejection of lap band by your body, infection, band erosion, leakage from the balloon, esophageal dilatation, and pouch dilatation.

Besides all of these side-effects, a third of the adults in the study featured above had the band erode and 60 percent needed additional surgery. So a third of the time the band becomes non-functional and over half of the time further surgery is needed. Not exactly an inspirational long-term performance record, is it?

Death Can Result from Gastric Banding or Gastric Bypass

Would you be willing to trade your life for the possibility of losing weight? This is a serious question as both of these surgeries can lead to death.

As stated directly on Lap-Band's safety information page:

"You should know that death is one of the risks. It can occur any time during the operation. It can also occur as a result of the operation. Death can occur despite all the precautions that are taken."

What else is buried on the Lap-Band safety page?

Disclaimers letting you know that along with the laundry list of possible complications, there's a chance you may not lose any weight at all:

"Complications can cause reduced weight loss. They can also cause weight gain … It is possible you may not lose much weight or any weight at all."

So weight loss surgery, which includes gastric banding and the more invasive gastric bypass, may seem like a simple quick fix, but they are NOT a safe solution because of the many negative long-term health consequences inherent with both of these surgical options.

Over 40 percent of weight loss surgeries result in major complications within six months, including black-outs, malnutrition, infection, kidney stones, bowel and gallbladder problems, liver failure, and, again, an increased risk of death.

All surgeries have inherent risks, but bariatric surgeries seem to have a much higher ratio of complications. In fact, you are far more likely to suffer an adverse event from these types of surgeries than not.

A More Natural Approach to Weight Loss

Lifestyle modification is the more natural way to address your weight loss concerns since it more permanently treats the source of the problem rather than using a surgically inserted Band-Aid to curb overeating.

Addressing your diet and lifestyle without surgery is also much safer, and in the long run, much more effective, as this option will not present you with all of the risks of side-effects and complications that accompany these surgeries, not to mention the "worse than expected" outcomes. While exercise is crucial for everyone seeking to control their weight it plays a variable role in its important. For those that are massively overweight the single most important element will be the foods that are selected. So don't expect doing two to three hours of cardio will work miracles, it, won't. You have to focus on food first.

Fasting and using freshly squeezed organic green vegetable juices are two of the more powerful interventions to rapidly normalize your weight. Other healthy lifestyle tips that will help you to reach your ideal weight naturally requires just three basic steps:

  • Eat a healthy diet that's right for your nutritional type, paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down, primarily by avoiding fructose as much as possible (I recommend less than 25 grams of fructose a day).

    When you eat for your nutritional type, you eat the foods that are right for your biochemistry, and these are the foods that will push your body toward its ideal weight.  A healthy diet means eliminating soda and processed junk foods, along with eating non-GMO and organic options whenever possible.  Again, organic green vegetable juicing and fasting are key elements when seeking to lower large amounts of weight.

  • View exercise as a drug. When you're trying to lose weight, a casual walk here and there is not going to cut it. There are a number of routes you can go here, but ideally, you need to exercise each and every day. It is simply impossible to optimize your health and weight without regular exercise. Fortunately, there's a highly effective exercise strategy that can dramatically reduce your workout time and maximize your weight loss; it's called Peak Fitness.
  • Manage your stress. Tools like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) are your friend and ally when it comes to losing weight. For some, emotional eating is more complex and an experienced EFT practitioner may be able to help unravel some of your deeper emotional issues that are impacting your weight.

As you naturally start to shed your unwanted pounds by following this healthier lifestyle, you will be stepping into a future with a greatly reduced risk of all the degenerative diseases that are linked to being overweight and obese, giving you a greater chance at a longer life to enjoy your newfound optimal health.