Gastric bypass surgery is seen by many as a quick fix for weight issues that may be challenging to an individual’s health or self-esteem. But is it really a viable solution or is it an emotional gamble that can lead to problems that are more damaging than carrying extra pounds?
With reports stating that as many as 30% of people who have gastric bypass surgery are developing addictive problems like alcoholism, psychologists are concerned that this major surgery is leaving it’s rapidly transformed patients unprepared for the sudden transformation and lifestyle changes that it brings about.
What Exactly is Gastric Bypass Surgery?
The average stomach can hold roughly the amount of food that you can hold in your cupped hands. Gastric bypass surgery reduces the stomach so drastically that it is reduced to the size of a walnut and can only hold the equivalent of about six grapes.
How it’s Done
A surgeon cuts across the top of the stomach leaving a small pocket, then the small intestine is cut and attached to the remaining tiny piece of stomach; thus bypassing the rest of the stomach along with it’s regulating valve at it’s base and the duodenum, an important part of the small intestine that usually receives and processes food from the stomach.
From now on any food or fluids consumed pass through the reduced stomach straight into the small intestine. I can’t help but wonder what the long-term health implications of this are. Is digestion still effective? Are enough nutrients received by the body? Are they assimilated and absorbed properly? Exactly what are the long term ramifications of losing half your digestive system overnight?
Time will, no doubt tell, but already there are other, equally worrying, issues developing as a direct result of gastric bypass surgery.
The Heavy Truth
Excess weight can be a manifestation of deep underlying emotional issues, if these issues remain unresolved, then no surgical procedure will fix the situation. The stomach might be bypassed and weight might start falling off by the simple surgically induced fact that the stomach has become tiny, but if the eating habit that fueled excess weight had an emotional component it can morph into another unwanted habit.
Psychologists call this addiction transfer and it’s what happens when an addictive comfort eater becomes an alcoholic, drug user, or someone obsessed with fleeting sexual encounters.
It is estimated that as many as one in three gastric bypass patients are finding themselves faced with serious addiction problems in the months following gastric bypass surgery, with excessive alcohol consumption being the most common issue.
Alcohol counseling services across the USA are reporting that record numbers of gastric bypass patients are seeking help for their newly acquired problem with alcoholism. This is in no way meant to imply that anyone carrying excess weight is an addict in the making. But for those already of an addictive nature, it would be kinder and more ethical to propose supportive lifestyle changes rather than radical surgery, which might appear to solve one issue while leading to others. Major surgery should come with information, advice and counseling. This is the case for gender change surgery, why not for gastric bypass surgery where a person can soon look completely different externally, but may still be facing the same challenges internally.
The American Society for Bariatric Surgery (ASBS) has issued statements saying that gastric bypass surgery is not a quick fix, but rather part of a lifelong commitment to good physical and mental health.
All well and good but the truth is that most people seeking gastric bypass surgery are seeking rapid weight-loss, they want to lose weight, and they want to lose it fast.
You only have to type the term into Google, to find pages of adverts offering effective “weight reduction surgery” and consultations to assess eligibility.
Apparent quick fixes seldom come without a high price tag attached somewhere. Gastric bypass surgery is no different. No major life change surgery should be undergone without very careful consideration and ongoing support.
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