Thursday, April 30, 2009

WLS complications decline?

This article leaves a lot to be desired when talking about complications from WLS. From everything I've seen on the support groups for WLS survivors, it's not that complications aren't happening as often or aren't as horrendous as they've always been - a lot of surgeons are telling patients that their symptoms of those complications either aren't due to the WLS or are "all in your head".
The findings from a study by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are based on an analysis of more than 9,500 patients under age 65 who had obesity surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, at 652 hospitals between 2001 and 2002 and between 2005 and 2006.

So, are the complications actually declining or is it just that doctors' reporting of those complications is declining? Honestly, I think it's the latter case. If complications aren't declining (and possibly even increasing in frequency, severity, and variety), then if/when fat people, who have been told that this is life-saving for them, hear about these complications and their severity, maybe they have second thoughts and decide not to have the surgery. Hit doctors in their pocketbooks and they have a very strong motive to quit reporting every complication that every patient has, and if they do report the complications, they have even more motive to make light of the effects of those complications on patients' quality of life.
The researchers found that the complication rate among obesity surgery patients dropped from 24 percent to about 15 percent. Contributing to that decrease were declines in post-surgical infection rates (58 percent lower), abdominal hernias, staple leakage, respiratory failure and pneumonia (29 percent to 50 percent lower).
There was little change in rates of other complications such as ulcers, dumping (involuntary vomiting or defecation), hemorrhage, wound re-opening, deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, heart attack and stroke, the researchers noted.

Yeah, the complications listed above? Those are just a small fraction of all the possible complications you can end up with from WLS, not to mention that if you have one of the complications, chances are you'll have several of them. So what about the incidences of all the complications they didn't list? What do you want to bet that they haven't declined any?
I don't care how much experience a doctor has doing WLS, there's still no guarantee that it's going to work perfectly or forever or without complications for every patient he has (case in point is mine and my best friend, Pat's, we had the same surgeon, the same surgery. She died from hers, mine didn't work and I'm worse off now than if I'd never had it done, and our surgeon is at the U of MN and teaches other doctors how to do this surgery. Yeah, no guarantees, people, none at fucking all).
It doesn't matter that WLS is now less invasive because of laparascopic procedures. Fucking with a working digestive system to make it less efficient and absorb less of the nutrients you eat is going to fuck with your health. If not immediately, then 1, 5, 10, 15, or 20 years down the road. And in the meantime, your quality of life sucks because you're dealing with life-altering, health-stealing complications.
As far as I'm concerned, I don't care what studies they're quoting, this is propaganda designed to keep fat people (and not even the "morbidly obese" fat people, they're doing this on smaller and smaller fatties all the time) coming in and giving their money (or their insurance company's money) to surgeons to butcher them, all in the name of "health" that isn't even a moral imperative.


  1. There's a sense of inevitability about this.

    In the same way that weight loss diets started off telling you exactly what to eat and how much and exactly when.

    Then as the weight loss industry tried to correct their faults, they slid inevitably closer and closer towards normal eating-because if you start fixing the pathology of them, you end up undoing what makes them work.

    Ditto with WLS, with anything, the more you do it, the more you refine and better your technique. They've always written off WLS complications as down to the patient, same as WL dieting, they have to, or they'd have to be judged on their actual merits, imagine that (no seriously, do!).

    The fascinating conundrum at the heart of WLS is, how much of the weight loss is purely down to the catastrophic assault that it makes on the body?

    I'm guessing, quite a lot, therefore if you lessen the assault, you lessen the erm.... 'efficacy'.

    This seems to be happening, if you read about it in, I think, 'Shadow on a tightrope', it is horrifying.

    It seemed that in those days, people seemed to be more likely to lose more weight , now the expectations seem surprisingly, modest(considering what WLS does).

    It's possible that it could become mild enough a procedure for the body to shrug it off as well as it does any of our other crude attempts to impose anorexia ( and bulimia and malabsorption etc to boot).

    It already does, in that a lot of people find WLS to be of no use to them, this is then blamed on them; they ate too much with their stomach the size of a baby's fist.

    If you add to that progressive reduction in trauma, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for this kind of procedure to undo itself.

    Oh the irony!

  2. wriggles - You have a lot of valid points, I'm glad you brought them up. It will give me a lot to think about this weekend.

  3. I agree that I wouldn't be surprised if the incidence of specific WLS complications has decreased over time (you're right that that isn't a comprehensive list), but that doesn't erase my concern that violently altering your digestive system is more dangerous than simply being fat unless you're talking about a rare case where a person has a life-threatening health problem that is definitively caused BY their weight and no other methods have worked. In that case it would still suck but might be the best of a bunch of bad options... or it might not. And in any case, that would be so rare as to not really even bear mentioning.

    Anyway, I appreciate you continuing to bring the dangers of WLS to the forefront. And since I believe I have never said this directly to you (though I have thought it many times) I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend to WLS. Especially combined with the health problems you have suffered as a result of your own surgery, the whole thing is just deeply wrong and unfair.

  4. spacedcowgirl - thank you :) (sorry this didn't get posted earlier, I was out of town for the weekend and didn't have internet access). One of the reasons I continue to blog about WLS and its complications is because I don't want anyone to have this surgery without having all of the information they need to make a truly informed decision.


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