Gastric banding. Gastric sleeve. Roux-en-Y bypass. There are in increasing number of procedures available that fall under the category of bariatric surgery. This is also increasing coverage for the procedures by insurance if certain criteria are met. Roux-en-Y is the most common form of surgery used. But are these procedures safe?
Let’s get one thing on the table right now. ANY time you alter digestion, be it with drugs that suppress acid production (Nexium, prilosec, etc..) or with surgery this is a price to be paid. That price can be severe, with the end consequence being death.
I have mentioned before that the body does two things–digestion, and everything else. We already know that malabsorption of nutrients leading to nutrient deficiencies occurs. We know that the risk of gallbladder problems goes up. We know that the bariatric surgery patient’s diet is forever altered. Far too often, the patient puts the weight back on because they never learned the right way to be eating for their body in the first place.
But what about the short term? Well, there are rapid positive changes that can occur such as reversal of diabetes and weight loss. But what about after that? We’ve already mentioned the long term nutrient deficiencies that will plague the bariatric patient for the REST of their lives.
This particular article begins to shed light on some more severe consequences of the Roux-en-Y bypass surgery. Elevation of cancer markers in the rectum are known to be present 6 months after the procedure. This study looked at what happens 3 years later. Do the markers improve? Not even close. There remains, 3 years after the procedure, a 4,000% increase in the tumor marker macrophage migration inhibitory factor in the rectum.
It is still too early to determine what this does to the risk of colorectal cancer. But, if I were to place my bets, I’d bet that the rates of colorectal cancer in these patients are going to be markedly elevated. Some much for the short term benefits…
The bottom line is that the right lifestyle changes are always your best answer. Our office has also had success with our in house weight loss program as well, that helps to educate patients while assisting with initial rapid weight loss.