In my weight loss surgery “community” this week there was a huge (and not always so nice) discussion about “traditional” dieting vs. weight loss surgery, and whether surgical intervention for losing weight is the “easy way out”. The discussion was spawned by blogger Ily Goyanes, Fuming Foodie for the Miami New Times basically stating her very strong opinion that everyone should be able to lose weight simply by cutting back calories and exercising. Individuals who chose the “easy way out” by having any variety of weight loss surgery are cheaters and simply lazy with no self control. And, further, she is convinced that pharmaceutical and medical device companies as well as hospitals encourage weight loss surgery just so they can profit! 50+ responding comments from successful WLS (Weight Loss Surgery) patients about how surgery is anything BUT the easy way out and why, were incapable of swaying this person’s mind. The comments continue to roll into her blog – bottom line is she is entitled to her opinion (as unsubstantiated, uneducated, bigoted and discriminatory as it is) but it would be so much better if she developed an educated, informed opinion.
Anyone who has gone through the process of qualifying for weight loss surgery knows it is 1) not a quick and simple process; 2) it is not always a given that one’s health insurance provider will agree to cover the procedure regardless of how medically necessary the procedure is; 3) the appeals process, when denied coverage, is not always successful; 4) while the surgical procedures make it EASY to lose weight, the lifetime commitment to maintaining a healthy body and mind can be overwhelming. We must diligently avoid malnutrition and a host of other potential health issues by dealing daily with vitamins and protein supplements. We must deal constantly with our “head battles” that lead to our obesity in the first place. We must exercise regularly just like any one else trying to maintain weight.
The reality is that the tool of weight loss surgery to a morbidly obese person is almost always the absolutely last resort, last ditch, effort to lose weight and eliminate or minimize co-morbidities (all the obesity-related health issues that most people suffer from) after years, and sometimes decades, of seriously trying and failing with the traditional methods of diet and exercise. WLS is a tool to give the morbidly obese back their lives and futures. Close to 200 thousand WLS procedures are performed in this country annually because it works. And, unbelievably, 35% of deaths in this country continue to be related to obesity-related health complications.
The continuing unfortunate circumstance for some individuals whose doctors feel they would absolutely benefit from WLS is that there are still many health insurance providers who simply will not cover the procedures (though they will still cover decades of medical care costs for obesity-related health issues), or individuals who do not have health insurance and are unable to afford surgery. These people suffer unnecessarily.
This will be my one-time only “promotion” – however, I so strongly believe in the following NON PROFIT organization, what it stands for, and what it accomplishes – to the point that I volunteer my time as a member of the Board of Directors – that I want everyone to know about it and what it does – look around our website! We are the only organization of this kind that we are aware of.
The Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America (WLSFA) is a nonprofit organization, powered by weight loss surgery patients & their supporters, Bariatric Surgeons & their practices, Hospitals and Corporations. Together we raise funds and gather resources to “pay it forward” in the form of Weight Loss Surgery Grants to people denied access to WLS treatment of obesity. Our 2012 grant application process has begun.
Are you, or anyone you know, recommended for weight loss surgery by your medical professional but either do not have insurance, or have been denied surgery by your insurance company and lost your appeal? You are invited to apply for our Alice Neff Grant for weight loss surgery or to please pass on this information to someone you know that might benefit from this grant.
And if you are just thinking about having WLS, are a post-op WLS patient, a supporter of a post op, join WLSFA! IT DOESN’T COST ANYTHING TO BECOME A MEMBER – but you will find 1300 people strong walking in your shoes … understanding your journey. It is the most incredibly supportive group of people with a common cause … ending obesity one pound at a time. We offer you on-line peer support, educational opportunities, and the most fun and educational annual Mother of All Meet & Greets in Las Vegas you’ll ever attend! Check it out! Or at least, spread the word.
Weight loss surgery is not for everyone – Each individual must come to their own conclusion based on their own personal and extensive research about the good, bad and ugly of having these procedures. The mortality rate for people having weight loss surgery is less than 1%. The success rate of losing and maintaining long term losses of 60-75% of your goal is 85%.
At 55 years old, and having suffered morbid obesity for over 20 years, it was the best decision I ever made for myself and in over 6 years I have never, ever once regretted it. Even as a boomer, it’s never too late to change your life.
I wish you all safe travels in your quest for a health life, whatever way you choose to pursue it – and Namaste (I honor you …)