Many of us are aware of the obesity epidemic that is happening in the United States and all over the world. 1 in 3 adults are considered obese. Since 1988, the average American male has gained over 17 pounds while the average female has gained about 15 ½, Spotlight on Obesity reports. If these trends continue, nearly 43% of all Americans will be obese by 2018. The CDC also reports that the annual medical cost of obesity in America is $147 billion and the annual medical cost for obese persons versus average weight individuals is $1,429 more.
As a result quick fix solutions, ranging from medications to bariatric surgery, have become the sought after solution for many people. If you are considering bariatric surgery or other weight loss surgery methods such as laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding, sleeve gastrostomy, and duodenal switch with biliapancreatic division, please understand all the risks, complications and costs before deciding if this is the best step for your health and weight loss journey.
Weight Loss Surgery Cost
When considering weight loss surgery, you must evaluate the cost. Many surgeons will tell you this is really one of your only options to ever improve your health. First, this is false, we will share some alternative weight loss options later in this post. Second, bariatric surgeons want to perform these operations; the more weight loss surgeries they perform the more money the surgeons and hospitals make. Often, they do not share true alternatives to weight loss surgery, as it would ultimately affect their bottom line. In addition factor in the costs for complications or side effects that may require hospitalization, additional doctor’s visits and medications.
Average weight loss surgery costs between $14,900-$23,000. Most insurance carriers offer some weight loss surgery coverage, but few cover the entire procedure. Consider all the out of pocket expenses you will incur from this procedure. Many weight loss surgery providers recommend taking out a loan to cover all the medical expenses. Strongly consider if an additional monthly loan similar to an average car payment is worth it when effective and safe alternatives exist for weight loss.
Weight Loss Surgery Blood Clots
Other than the risks associated with having a general anesthetic, there are many other problems that can arise after weight loss surgery . Blood clots in the legs are a serious concern for anyone who has had major surgery, but blood clots are one of the worst bariatric surgery risks. Patients have restricted movement after weight loss surgery, so blood clots may build up in the legs and travel up to the lungs, blocking their ability to take in oxygen. There is also the chance of an infection developing inside the surgical cut, especially if the wound is not properly cared for. While these are short-term risks, blood clots have the potential to cause long-term health concerns, especially if the blood clot triggers a severe heart attack or stroke.
Inability to Absorb Nutrients in the Digestive Tract
Some weight loss surgeries that alter the digestive tract may result in very severe protein and vitamin deficiencies that can be fatal if left untreated. The more complicated a procedure is, the worse the bariatric surgery risks become. The Roux-en-Y and the biliopancreatic diversion with duodenal switch are two classic examples of procedures that can cause absorption issues in the digestive tract. The biliopancreatic diversion without the duodenal switch is another procedure known to cause nutritional deficiencies. Of the three surgeries, the biliopancreatic diversion without the duodenal switch is the riskiest. In fact, the biliopancreatic diversion without the duodenal switch is rarely performed due to the chances of developing a serious nutrient deficiency. Vitamin and protein deficiencies caused by an inability to properly absorb nutrients can lead to severe complications such as heart failure and dementia. You will be required to take a variety of supplements and vitamins for the rest of your life, that may help lessen these risks. However, these absorption inabilities will be a life long risk and need to be monitored carefully.
Osteoporosis and Weakened Skeletal Structure
Calcium deficiencies are usually associated with procedures that change the way the digestive tract absorbs nutrients. In some cases, a calcium deficiency may result in a stooped back and brittle bones. Medication is often required to prevent worsening symptoms. In some cases, patients who receive weight loss surgery may develop osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a permanent, potentially life-threatening bone disease that results in significant bone degeneration, leading to bones that are easily broken and fractured.
Long-Term Intolerance to Food
During the bariatric surgery recovery time, you may develop long-term nausea that causes intolerance to food. Some patients are unable to eat without vomiting or experiencing severe nausea. In some cases, hospitalization is required to avoid malnutrition, which is one of the most common and severe risks. This is one of the most uncomfortable long-term bariatric surgery risks, and there is no way to tell prior to surgery if it will happen to you. If this does happen post weight loss surgery, you will be required to be on medications that reduce nausea.
Weight Loss Surgery Alternatives
Weight loss surgery and a life long adherence to medications are not the only the options to live long and healthy life. Keep in mind medications and weight loss surgery provides a band-aid fix and doesn’t teach patients how to eat healthy naturally. In addition, many people have been down the weight loss path trying fad diets and weigh loss shakes that only work temporarily.
To achieve true weight loss success, you need to learn how to eat healthy, serving sizes, allow time and your plan must be personalized. Here at Solstice Health, we have helped hundreds of patients achieve weight loss success through our medical weight loss program. No medications, pills, or tricks. We work with our clients to understand what healthy food is, understand serving sizes, and form a healthy relationship with food for life. Our weight loss program is a 4-phase program which guides you through each weight loss phase, adjusting your eating to accomplish life long healthy eating and achieve your ideal weight. Here is a recent weight loss success client who lost 167 lbs. naturally.