Since undergoing gastric bypass surgery this past March,
Janice, an admitted shopaholic, has not done much shopping. "I have nothing to
wear, but you go through so many sizes so quickly, it doesn't make any sense to
Not that this retired art teacher from West Bloomfield, Mich.
is complaining. Janice has dropped 70 pounds since her gastric bypass surgery
and she is off just about every medication she was taking before her weight
loss including asthma medications.
Like growing numbers of Americans (including such famous folk
as weatherman Al Roker and singer Carnie Wilson), Janice turned to gastric
bypass surgery to lose weight and live a longer, healthier life.
And despite the fact that this is a major surgery involving a
whole host of often-difficult lifestyle changes and the potential for even more
follow-up surgeries, most people would do it again -- in a minute. All in all,
former gastric bypass surgery patients are an average of 100 pounds lighter,
more active, feel better and take significantly less - if any - medication to
treat the complications of obesity including diabetes, asthma, high blood
pressure, and sleep apnea.
"I am only sorry I didn't do it sooner," Janice says.
According to the
New York Times, weight loss surgery procedures increased 40% last year,
with 80,000 occurring nationwide. And statistics from the American Society for
Bariatric Surgery predict there will be more than 103,000 such surgeries
performed in 2003. By comparison, in 1998 there were less than 26,000, and in
1993 the number was just shy of 17,000.
Gastric bypass surgery involves shrinking the stomach size by
sealing off most of the stomach and creating a small, thumb-sized pouch at the
top of it, as well as bypassing a length of the small intestine to reduce the
amount of calories and nutrients absorbed from food.
One thing for
certain, gastric bypass surgery isn't always easy, or necessarily safe. The
death rate nears 1%, meaning up to 400 people may die from the procedure
annually. As many as 20% of patients need additional surgery to mend
complications such as abdominal hernias. Due to malabsorption in the shortened
digestive tract in procedures such as the jejunoileal bypass, roughly
30% of patients develop conditions due to malnutrition, such as anemia
and osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive
and Kidney Diseases.