Written by R. S Jacobs
I recently read about a woman who had struggled with her weight from a very early age. She tried every trick in the book; pills, fad diets, liquid cleanse, and detox diets with no success. She was on a constant rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally, as a result of losing weight temporarily and gaining even more back. By the time she was in her early 20s, her confidence level was at an all-time low, especially as all her friends were in relationships, suddenly she felt alone. All she wanted was to meet someone, settle down and start a family.
Feeling like she had exhausted every possible way to lose weight, in desperation she decided that the only option was to have a Gastric Band. What she didn’t realise was that this decision would change her life, and not in the way that she expected. This was the beginning of her worst nightmare. Although she did lose a lot of weight within a relatively short amount of time, and temporarily she started to feel more confident in her new clothes, she didn’t anticipate how much excess loose skin she would have. She decided she would have to incorporate exercise into her journey, which is when she realised how unhealthy she really was. Her new exercise routine left her experiencing extreme nausea, pain and severe headaches on a daily basis. She was constantly dehydrated due to the fact that she couldn’t drink much water as her stomach physically was not capable of holding much, and she didn’t have much appetite – you can see the cycle!
What she didn’t realise was that weight loss surgery such as gastric band or bypass, are extremely invasive procedures on the body. It comes with a lot of consequences that a doctor might mention as a rare consequence, basically something not to worry about. Gastric band procedures mean that you significantly reduce the size of the stomach from the size of your fist to something as small as a golf ball. The stomach has the capability to expand 40 times its normal size, making it easy to consume huge quantities very quickly before your stomach signals the brain to say that it is at top capacity. The purpose of the surgery is to make you feel full quicker and significantly reduce the quantity of food that you’re physically able to consume. The effects are instant and so dramatic that you are left with side effects you didn’t anticipate, which in some cases can lead to chronic illness.
A common side effect of weight loss surgery is being deficient in essential minerals and vitamins, a direct result of the small food being consumed. Many post gastric band patients have to take vitamins for the rest of their life and even require lifelong medical follow-up. In practical terms, weight loss surgery means you continually starve your body, therefore forcing your body to use up stored energy in the fat cells. Something that people often fail to consider, when you continually starve your body over a long time, it begins to malfunction, become malnourished and goes into shutdown mode.
Whilst this is a very rare consequence, some people have actually died on the operating table during their weight loss surgery. Another reported consequence was that some people started to develop hematological disorders, causing the depletion of red and white blood cells and blood clots. Often clots are transferred to various parts of the body, and if they travel to the brain you are at high risk of having a stroke or even worse. Something that affects those with a large amount of weight loss is excess skin, and many need surgery to remove the excess skin which comes with its own set of risks.
My personal advice to people contemplating weight loss surgery is DON’T DO IT! Your body is designed exactly the way it’s supposed to be, taking such drastic measures for instant results without considering the risks is not advisable. In extreme circumstances, such as someone who is bed-bound either due to their weight or has gained weight as a result of being bed bound, I can understand that weight loss surgery might be the last resort, as surgery will suppress hunger enough to result in weight loss. However, this should only be an absolute final option when nothing else works, and someone’s life is on the line. I am a firm believer that everyone who has control of their mind can decide to lose weight, and should not turn to weight loss surgery as an easy way out.
Of course, for many doctors or surgeons in this business, they will encourage you to go ahead with the surgery because it’s an expensive procedure, the more people they operate on, the more money in their pocket. For those who can walk, you can make a conscious decision to change your diet and slowly increase your daily activity levels. Slowly but surely you will start to see changes, and I believe this is the safest and smartest way to lose weight and helps to control how much loose skin you have. When you combine a healthy diet with moderate exercise, you will have long-term results, and you will create a routine that will be suitable for the rest of your life.
For those who have a lot of weight to lose, one full proof method is combining cardio with weight lifting. This miracle method will not only force your body to make use of your stored energy (aka fat), it will also help you build muscle which burns calories at a much faster rate and will significantly reduce excess skin. As the classic expression goes, abs are made in the kitchen, and it couldn’t be truer – it’s as simple as calories in and calories out! There is no quick fix or cheat to this basic strategy, it’s really that simple. People who take the surgery route are looking for a quick fix or easy way out, without considering the long-term effort that needs to go in to maintain your new body. You didn’t gain weight overnight, so how can you expect that you will lose it overnight, be patient and remind yourself that it will take time but it will be worth it in the end.
For those who want to lose in excess of 100lbs, you need to give yourself around 1 or 2 years and aim for 30 minutes of moderate cardio followed by 30 minutes of HEAVY weight lifting 5 days a week. Changing your diet is going to be the key to your success, make sure you incorporate vegetables (cheap and nutritious), avoid junk food, alcohol and processed sugar at all costs. Calculate how many calories you require based on your height, weight, daily activities and goal weight, and then you can set out specific targets. This way, you will be eating the required amount to achieve that goal weight, whilst simultaneously working off the excess weight. Your body will start to re-calibrate over time and you will start to see big changes. Your goal weight would be attainable and you will be so proud of your hard work.
Risks of weight loss surgery
* Psychological Damage. Weight loss surgery often means you avoid the reason why you gained weight in the first place. Many people overeat because of some deeper issue, and by not getting to the route of the problem, you are actually making it worse. From a biological perspective, recent studies have shown that weight loss surgery leads to low nutrient absorption. When your body is low in essential vitamins and minerals, it can have an adverse affect on the production of serotonin, which acts as a mood stabiliser. When you combine reduced serotonin with the side effects of extreme food restriction, there is a high likelihood that you could develop anxiety, tiredness, negative mood, emotional sensitivity and high irritability.
* Extreme Pain. There have been reporting of people who suffered extreme pain due to the gastric band slipping, causing sharp abdominal pain. It can also lead to stomach leakage and fluid builds up in the abdomen. The severe pain could be transferred to your neck, shoulders and back. Inflammation and infection can easily occur which might require corrective surgery, if not complete removal. In some cases, the band would have to be removed to prevent the stomach from dying due to insufficient blood supply.
* Acid Reflux. Gastroesophageal reflux is increased due to the portion of the stomach protruding into the chest cavity. Heartburn and bloating are very uncomfortable which is a common problem for those with a gastric band. The stomach lining is designed to contain acid, however, the oesophagus isn’t. Therefore, having a regular build up of acid in the throat or oesophagus could lead to tissue damage. Acid reflux can also be a sign that the gastric band has slipped or that the pouch is dilated.
* Nausea & Vomiting. People with a gastric band are more susceptible to vomiting and developing nausea. This is because the band might be too tight or if the person ate more than their stomach is able to hold. In extreme cases where someone is vomiting on a regular basis, it could dislodge the band or lead to abdominal leakage which is very dangerous.
* Internal Infection. The risk of internal infection is greatly increased as a result of band erosion. When the gastric band erodes, the bacteria in the stomach starts to build up and seep out, affecting internal organs. In extreme cases, this can lead to life-threatening infections and have fatal consequences.
* Death. Surgical risks aside, if the gastric band dislodge, it could cut a hole in the stomach. This could be fatal due to the acidic content in the stomach spilling into the body and burning the internal system. The stomach acid is called hydrochloric acid and guess what? This acid is strong enough to dissolve metal, so imagine the damage it can do to soft tissue organs. Doctors would normally claim that there is only 2% chance of this happening. The question is, are you willing to risk 2% of dying for a quick fix to losing weight?
* Wasted Resources. Think about the amount of time and money needed for weight loss surgery, follow-up appointments, doctor consultation, recovery, skin removal surgeries just to name a few. When you see the big picture, it would be much safer, cheaper and more fulfilling to follow a diet and exercise routine, and the time frame might not be much different. With gastric-band surgery starting at around $10,000, and the cost of additional surgeries (such as corrective or skin removal) you can easily spend in excess of $50,000. Gym memberships are a few hundred dollars each year, or better still, do home workouts for free, and by cutting out all the junk food, you can clearly see which is the most cost-effective/wise option.
The bottom line is you need to take responsibility for your own health and train yourself to avoid temptations and shortcuts. Weight loss surgery does not guarantee long-term results, you will still have the same issues with food, and have an ongoing struggle trying to maintain your weight loss and obsessively count every calorie without fully understanding what your body needs to healthy. So, why not save yourself all the ups and downs, and avoid putting your body under such stress that can lead to long term side effects. Instead, focus on a healthy weight loss method that you can include as part of your life. When you become physically and mentally strong, nothing will stand in your way.
Stay strong, warriors
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