I read a post today on a forum I frequent by someone who is pre-surgery, getting ready to have a Vertical Sleeve Gatrectomy. Her therapist tried to scare her about the surgery, told her that the psychiatrist that did her pre-op psych appointment ‘told her’ about a patient of hers who ‘had this surgery’ and ‘has felt terrible ever since’. Telling her that ‘people feel horrible for the rest of their lives’ and that she doesn’t think she’s being realistic about the surgery.

Nevermind the psych at first said she would only tell the surgeon she felt this girl should have a lap-band and not the VSG, which makes me feel like they have some kind of vested interest in forcing a lap-band on someone who DOES NOT want it (no offense to you guys out there who have lap bands and are doing well on it but, after much research, there was no way I would ever get one). What kind of therapist uses what is at best second hand information but does no freaking research on their own?

As I told this girl (who is now freaking out and she shouldn’t have to be, my god, I want to bitch slap this therapist for putting her PATIENT through such emotional turmoil), I really wonder at the motivations of people who try to talk someone out of doing something that may very well save their lives. Yes, it is good to know the risks as well as the rewards and any informed patient will understand them, but to try to frighten someone so badly they are second-guessing themselves? Especially when it’s clearly obvious they have no real knowledge of what they’re talking about? Why do people do things like this?

All the time, I hear people complain about this neighbor, or that co-worker, all who have some kind of story from someone who ‘knows somebody else’ who had a ‘patient/cousin/sister/uncle/brother/friend/friend of a friend of a friend who had ‘that surgery’ and they died/gained all their weight back/were unhappy forever and ever/were vomiting all the time/never had energy/the list goes on and on and on. Ladies, any of you who have been pregnant know the story, everybody wants to tell you every horror story or gruesome detail of every pregnancy they’ve had or their friends or family have had. As if that scary and exciting time isn’t bad enough, right?

YES, there are risks with weight loss surgery, any weight loss surgery, just as there are risks with any surgery you may have. The risks for the VSG, over all, are very low. Frankly, the risks of being obese for the rest of your life are higher. The statistics of being obese and being able to lose weight ‘the old fashioned way’ (as some people say we should) are not encouraging. Such a minute percentage of the populace can do it AND keep the weight off long term and, yet, when we finally turn to weight loss surgery as our last resort, we are lectured or people try to talk us out of it, or any other number of negative things, instead of being supportive. (Note: My experience has been blessedly different. My friends and family are so supportive, it is almost unbelievable. Unfortunately, many people seem to have the opposite experience.)

Weight loss surgery is a tool. It’s not magical fairy dust that will make all of your problems disappear. It. Is. A. Tool. A tool that can be very effective if utilized properly and just as easily broken if abused. Going into surgery with your eyes wide open is never a bad thing but, you don’t need to frighten someone to the point where they are nearly having a panic attack in order to make sure they understand the risks. And you sure as hell don’t do it without facts and understanding of the surgery you are so obviously trying to talk them out of having.


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