Why Bariatric Surgery Can Fail (Part 5)

So, just to wind down this series, I would like to finish with an aspect of bariatric surgery that is seldom talked about. It is particularly relevant to patients at the extreme end of obesity.

Many of these patients will have lived with severe obesity for a long time. They will have very few social contacts (except perhaps on the internet).

Many will not have partaken in what others would consider very ‘normal’ activities: going to a cinema, strolling around in a mall or park, shopping for shoes or clothes, having a mani-pedi or even just their hair done, getting on an airplane or even just into a regular car (let alone drive one).

As they lose weight, gain back their health and energy, and begin venturing out again, they will face all kinds of challenges both physically and mentally.

Many will have the support they need and do just fine.

But others, will flounder, feel socially incompetent – like a new immigrant to a foreign country.

Trips to a supermarket or the public library can be daunting.

It even takes time to recognize that that person reflected in the store window is really and actually you!

This process of ‘rehabilitation’, which eventually can encompass issues like facing the job market or considering going back to school is not easy.

Very little research seems to have been done on these issues – I can only imagine a whole new field for occupational and recreational therapists and social workers.

Bariatric surgery is truly life changing – in the real sense of the word.

I hope that this series of articles has perhaps touched on some issues that many may not have considered before.

I hope that those who have themselves experienced some of these issues or have seen them in their own patients can relate to some of these difficulties and see them reflected in my posts.

Bariatric surgery is about far more than finding a competent surgeon.

it is a very individual and personal decision – one that can empower – one that requires courage and determination.

It is definitely not a ‘cop-out’ or ‘conceding defeat’ or even remotely ‘taking the easy way out’.

It is most certainly not just about surgery.

Never have so many people around the world been in the need of or decided to undergo surgery – this is work in progress. As for most conditions mistakes are made, new research and greater experience changes and improves practice.

There is no quick or magical fix for obesity – surgery is currently perhaps the best option for most patients with severe obesity – hopefully, it will not remain the only one.

For many patients, surgery is definitely not the right option – hopefully, these patients can be identified and counseled accordingly.

For those, who are most likely to benefit, timely access is important – life is short enough without having to lose years of it to a condition that can perhaps not be cured but is definitely treatable.

Toronto, Ontario

p.s. Meet and greet with Dr. Sharma and friends: Toronto, Friday, June 3, 5.00-6.00 pm, L’Espresso Bar Mercurio at 321 Bloor Street West, (southeast corner of Bloor & St. George) – the more the merrier!