The Duodenal Switch Twice as Dangerous as the Gastric Bypass?

As some of you know, I've been looking into different weight loss techniques as of late. I'm currently on the Gastric Bypass Hypnosis Surgery program by Rena Greenberg, which I'll be posting a halfway point update on next week.

As some of you may also know - I believe in natural methods for losing weight, and by natural I mean non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical. I take no issue with getting help - in fact, I advocate it -- because fat people have issues they need to deal with if they want to lose weight and keep it off. But getting a personal trainer, attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings, or undergoing hypnosis is not going to screw with your body and/or mind the way the Phen Fen or a lap band procedure would.

As I was catching up on the news this morning, I came across an article on Reuters about a new study that reveals -- while duodenal surgery results in faster and bigger weight loss than the more popular gastric bypass -- it also comes with more health risks and complications.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, discusses 60 patients who were randomly designated to undergo either gastric bypass surgery or the more complicated surgery referred to as the duodenal switch.

In a couple of years, the patients who underwent the duodenal had lost an average of 50 pounds more than those who underwent the gastric bypass. The duodenal also beat the gastric in the amount of complications it caused the patients.

Sixty-two percent of the duodenal patients suffered from abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. They also suffered from intestinal obstruction and long-term malnutrition. All I have to say is thank God that this procedure is not performed as often as the gastric bypass is.

When people take these shortcuts, it puts their lives at risk. And while their lives might already be endangered because of their weight, they could get some organic, holistic, and natural help for that. But to undergo something like this, especially considering that these surgeries have not been around long enough to judge the really long-term effects - say forty years after the surgery - is foolhardy at best and downright stupid at worst.

In this study, almost ten percent of the duodenal switch patients developed protein malnutrition or night blindness. One of the 29 patients needed iron infusions from developing a severe iron deficiency.

The surgery is not as commonly performed as the gastric bypass and is supposed to be reserved for patients who are "I'm on a reality show on TLC" obese, but of course, there are doctors who perform the surgery on those who are just "I need to put down the Oreos and get some exercise" obese.

And while the weight loss industry is somewhat known for shady doctors aka snake oil salesmen, there are some who retain their integrity and refuse to bow to public opinion so they can line their pockets with blood money.

Dr. Edward H. Livingston, a professor and surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas was quoted in the Reuters article as saying, "This is an operation that should probably go away."

Livingston also suggests more caution be applied when deciding whether weight loss surgery (WLS) is needed at all. If an obese, even morbidly obese, person is otherwise healthy, WLS may be jumping the shark.

He said that along with the risks of surgery, there is actually some doubt as to whether it really lengthens life span. Although the WLS advocates get red in the face screaming about the "fact" that they get to live longer and healthier lives as a result of having WLS, this "fact" may not be that factual after all. While some studies have suggested that to be true, the data is far from definitive and some studies actually show no improvement in longevity at all.

In a study by Livingston recently published in the Journal of American Medicine recently, the data indicated that there was no "survival advantage" among morbidly obese patients who had undergone WLS versus those who had not undergone surgery. "We really don't even know if there's a survival benefit," Livingston said.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes