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Responsible reporting on gastric bypass May 27, 2010 11:51AM

The following news story is the typical, presenting gastric bypass as a viable solution for obesity. The reporter irresponsibly only talked to the surgeons doing the surgery and did not do any research. "Our phones ring off the hook" said the gatekeeper of one surgeon, of favorable news stories. Time for some responsible reporting, methinks!

Following is the letter I wrote to the reporter:


You folks should do some research before presenting a story making it look like gastric bypass is any kind of solution. The doctors are MISREPRESENTING when they say they don't know... that is the official disclaimer - THEY DO KNOW the results and they are mostly, not good, weight-wise nor healthwise, long term.

A no brainer, you cannot cut up a major organ system without repercussions. While being overweight will maybe take (if that) 5 years off the kid you interviewed's life, a gastric bypass will likely shorten his life to 5-20 years after the surgery as it introduces vitamin deficiencies and nutritional problems and organ failure.

The inventor of the gastric bypass, Edward Mason, stated:

"For the vast majority of patients today, there is no operation that will control weight to a "normal" level without introducing risks and side effects that over a lifetime may raise questions about its use for surgical treatment of obesity."

He stopped doing gastric bypasses in 1980 because of the terrible repercussions in his follow up patients.

Any emergency room nurse will tell you that a percentage of their nightly patients are gastric bypass (some call it "gastric bypass gone bad").

But there are studies also:

This study found a 34 percent failure rate within 10 years of surgery on the gastric bypass:

Annals of Surgery. 244(5):734-740, November 2006. Christou, Nicolas V. MD, PhD; Look, Didier MD; MacLean, Lloyd D. MD, PhD

Objective: To complete a long-term (>10 years) follow-up of patients undergoing isolated roux-en-Y gastric bypass for severe obesity.

This study after 10 years found most weight loss surgery patients who were still living were still clinically obese:

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine: Volume 351:2683-2693 December 23, 2004 Number 26 Lifestyle, Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Risk Factors 10 Years after Bariatric Surgery Lars Sjostrom, M.D., Ph.D et al

Chart showing results:

Not only that but the above study also found that only 36 percent of the diabetics (who were newly diagnosed at the time the study began, by the way, others were not accepted in the cohort), were still "disease free" at the 10 year point.

This study of 62,000 hospital records by a weight loss surgery surgeon, discovered that 2 in 100 died within 30 days of surgery and another 4-9 percent died within the first year. It was never published but reported to the surgeons so THEY KNOW BETTER than they tell the news to sell their surgery!

Dr David Flum - [gastric bypass] death rate - 2 percent within 30 days of surgery from a study of 62,000 gastric bypass patient records: report delivered to the College of surgeons on Oct 21, 2003.[Study title: The Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Patient Survival: A Population-Based Study]

And that it kills the appetite is a myth. This clinical study found that:

The researchers also found that 80 percent of the patients also had undiagnosed "glucose abnormalities" including "high blood sugar" or "low blood sugar" or both. Dr. Roslin reported on this study at the 2009 ASMBS convention, suggesting that the gastric bypass may cause a heightened insulin response due to the rapid emptying of the pouch into the small bowel.

Roslin M, et al "Abnormal glucose tolerance testing following gastric bypass" Surg Obesity Related Dis 2009; 5(3 Suppl): Abstract PL-205.

I've met many patients who feel this surgery has ruined their lives. I've seen 40 and 50 year olds drop dead of heart problems after this surgery.

If you present a news story about ANY surgery, you need to present BOTH SIDES or you are being irresponsible and may be RESPONSIBLE for the death of some teens who watch your news thinking they are seeing the facts when actually, you have reported irresponsibly.

Why didn't you talk to a gastroenterologist about this surgery - they are the ones doing the followup and might give you a different picture.

Or at least look it up on the internet. But to just blindly believe some surgeon who is making 1.5 million bucks a year from cutting up digestive tracts - this is IRRESPONSIBLE.

The following blog is written by a 5 year post op gastric bypass patient. She had NO HEALTH PROBLEMS before surgery. Now she has grand mal epilepsy and is barred from driving (and /or working), she has reactive hypoglycemia - a bad response of the pancreas to the unnatural rearrangement of organs and with all of that, she is fighting weight re-gain and had to resort to ordinary dieting which only partially works to keep her weight down. I've met 300 lbs gastric bypass patients, more of them than you want to know.

Finally the following article has some patients of longer term who had catastrophic repercussions speak out:

PLEASE, next time do research before you hawk a surgery. And consider a follow up story telling the other side to REALLY inform the public.


*** "Because it's risky, it's only appropriate for a tiny fraction of people with obesity—the sickest 1 to 2 percent. The idea that all obese people should get [WLS] surgery is insane."
Lee Kaplan, M.D., director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center in Boston in "Self MAGAZINE: 'The Miracle Weight Loss that isn't' AUG 2008 ***

***** "By doing this surgery, you're creating a medical disease in the body. Before you expose someone to that risk, you have to be absolutely sure that you are treating an illness which is equal to or greater than the one you are creating."
(Dr Edward Livingston, bariatric surgeon in Self Magazine, 4-2001) *****

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