Lately there has been signs all over the NYC subway toting a weight loss surgery group that claims 6000 happy customers, virtually scarless and a happy man or woman who has lost 65 or so pounds and now is happy, dresses better and slender. Their website has nothing that I can find about long term success or side effects. All they have for pre-op is psychological evaluations and hints for post op nutrition. No mention of follow up surgeries, sepsis, malabsorption, and death. Not just from the surgery but WLS patients have a higher rate of suicide.
I know people who have WLS and the results so far have been good (or at least minimal side effects), bad and deadly. Shelley Bond of ASDAH posts about the illnesses she developed after WLS in her blog post here.
What sort of costs am I talking about just for me, who hasn’t had to have any subsequent surgeries or hospitalizations? Prior to surgery—and since my mid-20s—I’ve been treated for hypertension. Post-surgery, my blood pressure never really went down, and over the years my BP meds have changed and increased, all of which involved many doctor visits and medications.
I didn’t have diabetes at the time of surgery, but I developed it about a year ago, which surprised me: I didn’t know it was possible to get diabetes sometime after having WLS. This disease involves specialist visits every quarter, along with many fine drugs and monitors and testing strips. And diabetes comes with its own set of possible side effects which can be costly and life-changing, resulting in surgeries, hospitalizations and expensive medical equipment. Diabetes appears to be a pricey disease for the insured and the insurer.
I can't force a person not to do it, but I can write about the sham that this group touts to make it seem like WLS surgery is the simple and fun! I once heard a joke about fat people who get WLS as taking the easy way out. And I groaned. This surgery isn't easy.
In the nutrition section of the WLS group they talk about having to learn healthy eating to keep your weight loss. What they don't mention is that you will have to eat less because your body won't be able to handle it.
Being fat is often blamed for everything, all diseases, all high health care costs but if you want to talk about the bottom line for WLS, the only people getting richer are the surgeons, it's not only not dropping health care cost, in the long run it is going up.
Surgical patients had lower healthcare costs in the first year after surgery, averaging about $1,000 lower per case, according to Jonathan P. Weiner, DrPH, of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, and co-authors. During the next 2 years, bariatric surgery was associated with significantly higher healthcare costs. In years 4 through 6, costs stabilized but remained higher in the surgery cohort for 2 of the 3 years.
So for those who have decided they wanted weight loss surgery please understand it isn't fluffy bunnies. It is a serious surgery on a major organ that can cause terrible side effects and death. And it requires serious life changes that you must always adhere to.