Obesity Surgery Leaves Many In Misery

As obesity threatens to become the nation's number one root cause of preventable deaths, you will see many more expensive and dangerous drug and surgical "solutions". In 1995, just 20,000 weight-loss operations were performed in the United States. Last year, there were 103,000, and this year 144,000 are projected. The surgery has become big business, and medical centers have been scrambling to start programs. The rapid growth worries experts as well as some insurers and government officials, who fear that inexperienced surgeons and inadequate screening and follow-up may harm patients.

Although the surgery is supposed to be limited to people who are 100 pounds or more overweight, already we are seeing some doctors actually encouraging obese patients who were not heavy enough to gain more weight so they would qualify to have the surgery done. If this isn't distorted and perverted "health" care, then what is? Additionally, this surgery is fraught with potential complications as we already know that it weakens bones of those who had it done. Like any surgery, complications are common, including ones like the one reported last week when a man's stomach spilled out after his surgical staples were removed

Does it really make sense to pay $30,000 for an operation that is only necessary because people refuse to change their lifestyle and address the underlying causes of obesity, and undergo a surgery that is fraught with complications? Let's hope that this doesn't progress to the same ridiculous level that cardiac bypass surgery has, as this is an equally ridiculous waste of medical resources for a condition that is far more effectively treated with lifestyle and nutritional modifications.

New York Times May 4, 2004

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