Dr. Carson Liu provides advice for patients who are afraid to have gastric bypass surgery.
The fear of the gastric bypass has been pretty much propagated by other patients’ complications. So we know that a certain percentage of people have complications from gastric bypass. Some people have lost too much weight. Others have lost very little. Others have had severe complications. It seems like a lot of people have heard of a friend or a family or someone that, that has had a sever outcome.
The one thing to remember is to pursue this surgery when you are fairly young and fairly healthy. When you wait to the bitter end of your disease process with obesity and you have uncontrollable diabetes or severe heart disease, that makes it a very dangerous operation whether we do a gastric bypass or LAP-BAND® or even having your knees replaced or having your hip replaced. All those general anesthetic procedures become very, very dangerous because the patient’s health is very, very poor.
So what we want to do is pursue this when the patient is not at their worst health. So if they need to tune up their diabetes or their blood pressure then that, the time to do it is before surgery. And the way to minimize complications from surgery is to have the patient lose 10-15 pounds before surgery. This actually helps the patient in preventing them to have heart attacks, strokes and blood clots that go to the lung called pulmonary emboli. And this is why a lot of people have chosen the LAP-BAND®, because of the biggest fear of death.
And to be honest with you, death is very, very rare from any of these procedures, especially in experienced hands. The only uncontrollable factor in this would be a blood clot that forms in the deep veins or the pelvis or the legs. Most patients are placed on blood thinners and people are basically ambulated in the hospital to prevent these things.
I always tell people, if you are fearful you should really interview other patients. That’s probably the best thing to do, to talk to other patients and try to pick the most experienced surgeon that you can. If you are not sure, get a second, third, fourth opinion from other doctors and really feel comfortable with the surgeon that you are working with because you want a surgeon that’s capable of performing the surgery in a fairly reasonable amount of time.
So if someone is performing a gastric bypass in an hour and a half versus three and a half hours, that’s a big difference for the patient in terms of the outcomes, in terms of possibility of having a heart attack or stroke or a blood clot going to a lung. So that’s one of the things that people should keep in mind and you have a great choice of procedures out there that are all very, very effective.
You do need to probably participate in support groups. I think that very much helps the patient get into a program where they can alter their behavior of eating and exercise. Ultimately that’s what we need to do with every patient is to change their behavior of food choices and exercise a little bit everyday. If we could get that into everybody, I think we have a pretty good shot at reversing obesity.
I think that if patients are proactive and they participate in weight loss before their weight loss procedure, it actually will reduce their fear and will also help them get control of what’s going to happen after the surgery, which is diet and exercise. And I think fear is the biggest inhibitor for patients right now in pursuing any type of surgical intervention.
Doctors are fearful of it. They feel as if they have failed themselves if they have to refer a patient for surgery for weight loss because they feel like the patient could diet it off by themselves. Patients themselves feel like they have failed and it takes a lot of courage to pick up the phone and call and make that first appointment. And a lot of people, you know, it takes them about nine months to really think about it and by the time they have heard about these surgical procedures to the time they actually will make an appointment.
So by the time I see them most people have thought about it and done their homework, have done a lot of research and know about the different types of procedures and fairly well-educated now through the Internet. So, do as much research as you can, and ask questions and get second, third and fourth opinions.
About Dr. Carson Liu, M.D., F.A.C.S.:
Dr. Liu received his medical degree from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine and completed his internship, residencies and research fellowship at UCLA Medical Center. In 1998, Dr. Liu was appointed Assistant Professor of Surgery at UCLA Medical School where he continued to hone his skills in clinical practice, teaching and research. Dr. Liu has conducted extensive research and is widely published in the fields of Bariatric and gastrointestinal surgery; he is nationally recognized in his field and has lectured extensively to professional societies on these subjects. Dr. Liu is board certified in General Surgery and over the course of his career has performed more than 2600 bariatric surgeries.
Condition: Obesity, Morbid Obesity, Weight Loss, Morbidly Obese
Related Terms: StomaphyX™, Weight Loss, Bariatric Surgery, LAP-BAND®, Laparoscopic Gastric Banding, Gastric Sleeve, Revisional Bariatric Surgery, Nutrition, Overweight, BMI, Body Mass Index, Decreased Mobility, Comorbidities, Diabetes, Hypertension, REALIZE®, GERD, Bariatric Seminars
Expert: Dr. Carson Liu, Carson Liu, M.D., Dr. Liu, Doctor Liu, Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Liu, Carson Liu, M.D.
Expertise: Incisionless Bariatric Surgery, REALIZE® Band, Minimally Invasive Bariatric Surgery, StomaphyX™, Bariatric Surgery, LAP-BAND®, Laparoscopic Gastric Banding, Gastric Sleeve, Revisional Bariatric Surgery, Sleeve Gastrectomy