Monday, March 03, 2008
Would you get weight-loss surgery?
By A. Chris Gajilan
Senior Medical Producer
A few weeks ago, a good friend told me that she'd be getting a Lap-Band procedure done.
She told me about her upcoming weight-loss surgery over a sushi lunch and very excitedly explained all aspects of the procedure. It would be minor surgery -- minimally invasive, take about an hour, no major side effects, covered by insurance for a mere co-pay of $20.
She wouldn't need to stay overnight in the hospital, she told me, but her doctor liked to be safe. "I have the same doctor as Al Roker for when he had it done," she added.
To be honest, I was stunned, when I know I shouldn't have been. After all, we do weight-loss stories of all kinds as part of the Fit Nation series. Lap-Bands, which restrict the size of the stomach, really do work for a lot of people. In fact, in a January issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, one small study found that 75 percent of people who got Lap-Band surgery experienced a remission of their type 2 diabetes -- possibly because of fewer calories being consumed. In the group that just tried diet and exercise, only about 14 percent experienced remission.
But my friend hasn't been diagnosed with any major disease. While she may have a family history of health problems, she lives a very healthy lifestyle. No diabetes, no heart disease, no high blood pressure. She works out three to four times a week. In fact, while I'm not as heavy in weight or body mass index, she's far fitter than I am. Even so, her body mass index is over 40 -- well into the category considered obese.
According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 200,000 Americans had bariatric surgery last year. (The two most popular procedures are gastric bypass and the Lap-Band.) The latest numbers say that four out of every 1,000 patients who have gastric surgery die, either at the hospital or at home. The ideal candidate is someone who has a body mass index of 40 or more -- which equates to about 100 pounds over your ideal body weight. Someone considering weight-loss surgery must pass extensive psychological and medical exams to be approved for the surgery.
While I was concerned about safety, she assuaged my fears by telling me that Lap-Band is much safer than gastric bypass. A previous CNN.com story (Full Story), described the procedure: "A small adjustable band is placed around the upper part of the stomach to restrict the amount of food the stomach will hold. The band creates a small pouch opening to the stomach. The amount of food your stomach will hold is controlled by injecting or removing fluid from the band."
While I know my friend is the ideal candidate, I can't help but feel some reservations about it. I can't help but wonder if I would do the same if I were in the same position.
Would you get weight-loss surgery? What would you tell a friend considering it?
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