A recent issue of the American Association of Retired People Bulletin ran a cover story on bariatric (weight loss) surgery in which they touted its many benefits. The article carried stories of people who had lost a great deal of weight after having had the surgery.
There were only two things the article either failed to mention completely or downplayed: costs, and risks and side effects. Both of these extremely important factors were, in a rare demonstration of editorial irresponsibility, left to the reader to discover themselves.
Let's start with costs. According to the Consumer Guide to Bariatric Surgery website, these procedure, depending on which one and where it is performed, can run from $17,000 to $30,000. That does not, however, cover the cost of things like additional plastic surgery, liposuction, labiaplasty, tummy tuck and breast augmentation.
Health insurance providers are just beginning to pay for some of this, but only if fairly stringent requirements are met. Some of these include having a body mass index (BMI) of over 40, which is extreme obesity; or having diabetes or serious heart issues associated with the overweight condition.
And, according to the site, "If your doctor informs the insurance company that the surgery is medically necessary and provides appropriate documentation, including records of your doctor-supervised attempts to lose weight such as drug therapy and group therapy."
Now how about the risks or side effects? The renowned Mayo Clinic website lists a number of very frightening possibilities, such as vitamin and mineral deficiency, dehydration, gallstones and bleeding stomach ulcers just to name a few. It goes on to say that there are rare, but possible, side effects from Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery, which is the most popular, of pneumonia, blot clots in the legs, leaking at the staple points and the highly attractive side effect, death.
So now, you've accepted the risks, figure you can live with the side effects and could pony up the 30 grand. Here's what your doctor will tell you, you need to do for it to be really effective: diet, get exercise and change your lifestyle!
Hello! Ever heard that? Before you had your stomach stapled shut?
Here's one of the exciting lifestyle changes: you can't eat things in pieces any bigger than a pencil eraser because it may cause you to vomit or block the outlet of your new super sized stomach - the one reduced in size from 40 ounces to 1-2 ounces.
And here are some of the things you may not be able to eat anymore: meat, except in tiny pieces, well chewed; pasta and bread; and even vegetables can cause problems. What a lifestyle!
There are safe, natural alternatives to weight loss which cost a couple of bucks a day and provide results. But, the issue should be less about the losing the weight and more about preventing it in the first place. The problem comes down to the food supply of the average developed nation, like the US, is incredibly under-nutritious.
In my next article, I'll discuss some of the issues countries like the US face in being able to provide a nutritious diet to their populations.