Weight-loss surgery rarely a complete solution

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I've said some of this before, but a BBC health report (Obesity surgery "seen as quick fix") says it too, affording an opportunity to extend my remarks: Bariatric surgery might be the right choice for some obese people, but I have a very hard time regarding it as a complete solution for the people who qualify to receive it.

I didn't get to be 365 pounds with "only" an eating problem, and the size of my stomach was not a primary cause. So how could surgery that only would have made my stomach smaller resolve all?

What I "discovered" (well, OK, what I finally accepted) was that I had emotional and spiritual deficits, and I was trying to paper them over with excess food. Though I could go on diets and lose lots of weight, I did not experience any long-lasting relief until I addressed not only eating behavior but the totality of what was making me eat.

Here's the top of the BBC's story:

The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death looked at the care given to more than 300 patients at NHS and private hospitals in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It found that many were given insufficient time or information to properly consent to the operations. Post-surgery care was also found to be lacking, the watchdog said. In particular, it highlighted the fact patients were not always given access to dieticians and psychologists. The report also suggested the failings could be contributing to the high number of readmissions - nearly a fifth of the patients had to return within six months.


As someone who has had gastric bypass and who spent years and years working a program of recovery, I only seek to understand why everyone from the anonymous world mistakenly assumes that most, if not all, people who undergo this surgery do not come to the same realization that they have an emotional and spiritual problem. This surgery deals with the physical aspect, sure, but I don't know one surgeon whose treatment plan does not include the other elements as well and I do not know one person who has had the surgery who does not approach recovery from eating addiction from multiple angles. Interview some people like me-the circles I travel in are FILLED with people who are working spiritual and emotional recovery along with serious lifestyle changes....after gastric bypass. It seems to me there is a lot of judgement about the way different people manage different elements of their recovery...especially the physical. I am a great example of the adage that what works for one does not work for all. I am approaching four years since my surgery and this is the longest I have ever maintained great health in over 20 years of recovery work. For some, the physical affliction requires a drastic intervention. Others are, perhaps, more fortunate that this is not needed and program alone does the trick. My recovery is no less solid than theirs- it is only different.

Thanks, Sarahlou, for sharing, and I hear your frustration. While I do agree that bariatric surgery is a valid choice for addressing the physical part of the problem, I concede that, mostly irrationally, I reserve a little bit of skepticism for it, vis a vis less invasive, more gradual methods. I acknowledge the illogic, and am working on it.

I am surprised, though, to hear you say that all the people you know who've had the surgery think of what led them to needing it was an addiction, and that the circles you travel in are filled with people who are also working spiritual and emotional recovery along with serious lifestyle changes. I'm not saying that's not true; I'm saying I'm surprised that it is, because I've not experienced evidence of it.

Finally, it's true that I have no reason to think that your recovery is less solid than theirs, but I don't know why you'd think that I think your recovery isn't solid, never mind less solid than someone else's. To me, recovery is in the results — it doesn't matter how someone came to thrive. If they're thriving (and no one's getting hurt in the process), then they must be doing it right, whatever path they chose.

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