Blogpost: Is Bariatric Surgery as good for Patients as Hospitals?

The first hospitals were Almshouses. They were run predominately by Catholic nuns. No one was turned away, and caring for the sick and the needy was the only focus. Hundreds of years later, and mainly in the last forty years, insurance companies came on the scene and a game began that turned hospitals into corporate, publicly traded businesses with the primary objective of making a profit, and gaining the majority share of the market. Now the patients are commodities and are referred to as beds filled and procedures done. The number one killer in the United States is cardiovascular disease. The number one profit service in hospitals are cardiovascular procedures. Is there any reason to not give the cardiac patient eggs and sausage in the am? How about steak and gravy post bypass surgery?
But there is a new kid on the block for those general surgeons that is very promising; Bariatric surgery. These are procedures like gastric bypass, gastric sleeves, and gastric bandings. They are for the poor individual that cannot do moderation or portion control. These patients have tried the fad diets, and they have resulted in bariatric diet experience that has led them to bigger masses then they could have ever imagined. The procedure promises weight loss without dietary changes as well as control of diabetes and hypertension through weight loss. In order for a hospital that is founded on profit to offer such surgeries, there must be a big reward as well as a continued volume of patients with that diagnosis to fill the beds. Do these procedures work? What is the risk to benefit ratio to the patient? Certainly, there is an initial weight loss that can be substantial that is followed by by better control of glucose and blood pressure readings. The risk is that of a cardiac or respiratory event during surgery and post operative infections and non healing wounds. Later complications involve operative site hernias, adhesions, and malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. If the person was not eating a nutrient dense diet before then there is a substantial risk of nutrient deficiency afterwards. The promise is to eat what you ate before, but you cannot eat as much because of the smaller gastric chamber and absorption area. So a fast food meal of high fat, salt, and sugar with little vegetables and fruits will be even less nutrient dense. Other than the initial weight loss, there is no change in nutrient density to reverse lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune diseases.
Again, like most medical interventions, the focus is on the result and not the cause. The weight is the final result of a continued, unhealthy diet. It is not lack of will power or portion control of these unhealthy foods. By focusing only on a quick method of weight loss, there is distraction from the elephant in the room; THE STANDARD AMERICAN DIET of salt, sugar, and fat. An event to celebrate a local hospital”s accreditation to do bariatric surgery is offering an ice cream and a parfait bar to attract those interested in the procedure. This advertisement sent me reeling by suggesting a reward of sugar and fat laden ice cream to get information about this procedure. Let us help you get sick and stay sick so we can patch you up is how I interpret this message. These people are in the struggle of their lives. They want to be healthy, have tried many route to achieve health, and have been led astray by many marketing ploys. People turn to extreme measures when they are most vulnerable, and are willing to risk their lives for a chance to feel better.
The focus needs to change. What is the cause of the problem? Let’s treat the cause and not just patch the problem. If we look around the world and back through the centuries, people that eat mostly whole plant foods and stay away from processed foods and animal products are not overweight and live healthy active long lives. Yes it is a huge change in nutrition for some people, and yes, there are many obstacles in the form of fast and processed foods, and or the temptation of a miracle pill or supplements. But the rewards are not just for the individual but for the entire family and beyond. We must change this culture of ignoring nutrition as the cause of lifestyle diseases.
Eating a whole foods plant based diet can be delicious to view, to smell, and to eat. Just check out my Instagram account @jaimeladulaney. I look forward to each meal and feel good afterwards. It is an easier transition for some over others. We all have our strengths. We offer three days of nutrition courses each week in our office as well as full access to our registered dietitian to help assess the nutrient densities of meals and menus. You can begin with us by joining the membership practice for three months with full access to online resources, a registered dietitian, and a physician. We can provide you with the education and support needed to make a transition to a healthy lifestyle regardless of your current level of knowledge. We believe in individualized care and support that allows us to build relationships with our members to share in their success to a happy, healthy life. Please call the office for a free consultation to see if this practice is right for you.

One Comment
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    I had a friend that had bariatric surgery. She had to jump through all these hoops including seeing a psychiatrist. Once the surgery was done she was back to eating hot dogs and her old/normal SAD diet. Changing her eating habits (except smaller serving size) never was part of the pretreatment plan for the surgery. She did lose a lot of weight but her health was not changed—it might have even gotten worse. It made me mad and then heartbroken. Seems to me that part of the pretreatment needs to be about better nutrition and proving you can eat healthy before they will do the surgery. Thanks for posting about this topic. Now I feel like I can do something…I hope to try to convince her to be a part of your out of state membership.

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