Sunday, August 15, 2004

Weight Obsession Fatal?

An article in the New York Times today talks about the risks of gastric by-pass surgery. The article was spurred by a pregnant woman who died from complications from the surgery that was performed a year and a half ago. Her 8 month old unborn child died as well. This article gives statistics. "[Dr. Harvey Sugerman, president of the American Society for Bariatric Surgery] estimated that more than 110,000 gastric bypasses would be done in the United States this year. Complications strike as many as 1 in 5 patients, and it is believed that for every 200 patients, 1 to 4 will die." Personally, those odds are scary. Granted, the toll that excessive weight takes on the body is severe - but with odds like that, I'm not sure which is worse. Obesity has played a large problem in my family, and gastric by-pass surgery has come up in conversation and thought many times. While desperate times can yield desperate measure, this is one medical procedure I would avoid unless the situation is dire. There is just something wrong with the idea of cutting the stomach, stapling it, re-routing the intestines, knowing the body will not absorb what it needs to so now you have to take supplements....is there really any surprise that complications arise in 1 in 5 patients?