Stef (firecat) wrote,

  • Music:
"Weighing the risks" is a report on the risks and side effects of WLS, by Todd C. Frankel.

It seems well-researched and more honest than many articles about the 30-day-post-surgery death rates and the long-term complication rates of WLS, especially emerging knowledge of the serious nutritional deficiencies it can cause.

However, it sends a mixed message about whether the nutritional deficiencies occur because patients "don't take their vitamin pills" or whether they can occur even when patients do take their vitamin pills. (In some cases, they need vitamin injections.)

My concern about the nutritional deficiency side effect is one of my major reasons for staying away from the surgery. I have an idea what the health risks are of being the size I am with the chronic illnesses I have, but I don't know what the effects of nutritional deficiency might be, and I suspect that as I age and become less able to absorb nutrition anyway, they may become significant. I guess I figure that if I'm going to become very sick, I'd rather it be from a relatively well-known condition than a less-well-known one.

Frankel interviewed a woman who had the surgery in 2001 and lost 175 pounds. She is 41 years old. But to my eyes, in small photograph of her in the article, she looks much older.

Excerpt from the article:
One of the most thorough surgery shake-ups occurred in Washington state.

It was set off by Dr. Jeffery Thompson, chief medical officer for state Medicare, who was shocked by mortality statistics he received in the summer of 2003.

The 30-day death rate for obesity surgery ranged from zero to 40 percent.

In other words, some surgeons were losing four out of every 10 patients.

In August 2003, Thompson ordered an emergency halt to the surgery for his agency's clients. State Medicare then asked for an in-depth analysis of Washington's obesity surgeries. A clear relationship emerged between the number of surgeries a hospital performed and results: Hospitals that did fewer than 10 operations a year had a 12 percent death rate, while hospitals that did more than 100 had a rate of 2 percent.
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