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Weight Loss Surgery Horror Stories

Weight Loss Surgery Horror Stories

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      Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix to a morbidly obese person’s problems. Morbid obesity is a disease that kills slowly over time. We use food as a coping mechanism to hide our feelings and nurture our desire to feel loved. The dichotomy of food being both comfort and punishment is a psychological issue we try to solve and correct through surgery. Choosing bariatric surgery takes away your desire to overindulge in eating. The compulsion to overeat is mostly rectified through surgery, but surgery can create mood issues.

      Your weight loss journey is deeply personal and a great personal accomplishment. You choose to permanently alter your physical state to alleviate and cure your physical problems, but your mind remains mostly in the same state. Allowing yourself mental preparation can help through your weight loss.

      A weight loss story is one filled with success and joy. Massive amounts of excessive weight are shed, pounds are erased, a new person is standing before you, but not all weight loss journeys are filled with success, love, and joy.

      Some stories contain surgical complications, transference, mental, and physical limitations after surgery and possible scars that were not expected.

      The number of weight loss surgeries in the US increased from 13,000 surgeries in 1998 to over 200,000 a year in 2014. Your appearance is altered through slimming and becoming lighter, which many on the outside perceive as a positive. You are often asked invasive questions about your radical weight loss. There is also excessive skin, which can negatively contribute to your self-image, but health problems do not stop at the external.

      Doctor with his arms crossed with a stethoscope.
      Weight loss surgery is a tool, not a cure.

      Internal problems can also arise during or after surgery. There can be chronic stomach and intestine problems, scar tissue after gastric bypass, lack of energy, a negative relationship with food after your procedure.

      Tiredness, nausea, dizziness, intense shaking, and eating disorders may develop post-surgery. All of these conditions are both physical and mental consequences of weight loss surgery that can permanently prevent success.

      Along with the long term health effects the gastric bypass and gastric sleeve both can create long-term vitamin and mineral deficiencies. You will need long term supplementation, which can be demanding of you are experiencing stomach or intestinal issues after surgery.

      The main reason patients are readmitted after bariatric surgery is due to dehydration. Hydrating with water is essential in maintaining your health after weight loss surgery due to the malabsorption and vitamin deficiencies common amongst bariatric patients.

      Weight Loss Surgery Horror Stories

      Bariatric Horror Story

      One bariatric patient had a negative experience with her gastric bypass, Roux-en-Y surgery. The Roux-En-Y surgery is when the guts are rearranged, so the small intestines are attached to a pouch. The pouch is created from a portion of the stomach.

      This patient experienced sickness three months after surgery. She vomited and felt pain constantly. It was discovered that she had ulcers, intestinal hernias, teeth breakings, and constant vomiting. Her body was unable to process any vitamins or minerals. Her malabsorption was so severe that hospitalization was the only solution.

      She was able to stabilize and eventually had a child three years after surgery. She experienced childbirth complications due to her tummy tuck she had one year after surgery, which resulted in a blood clot and gaping incision.

      She was forced to quit her job, got divorced, lost her home, became addicted to pain medications, and eventually was committed to a psych ward. Her bariatric experience is a severe case that is not common but is an aftermath of what was deemed the most effective treatment for her morbid obesity. She regrets her choice because her life was destroyed.

      Woman crying.
      Gastric surgery can have a lot of benefits, but it does come with its share of severe complications. 

      The Terror of Gastric Surgery

      Another weight loss surgery horror story has a patient unable to eat four years after surgery. She was experiencing a bowel obstruction that was a complication from her gastric bypass.

      She also developed postprandial hypoglycemia. This occurs when you develop low blood sugar after eating, mostly a few hours after a meal. Her blood sugar was recorded as low as 17. The normal range is 80. Hypoglycemia is found in only 0.2 percent of patients.

      Weight Loss Surgery Nightmare

      Another patient experienced the typical weight loss journey of losing excessive amounts of weight in the first year after surgery. This patient never stopped losing weight after her first two years after surgery.

      Her metabolism went into overdrive and remained there. She needed operations to remove her gallbladder, and her small intestines collapsed into her large intestines, a perforated ulcer, and hernias—all of these painful conditions required emergency surgeries.

      This patient stated she would reverse her gastric bypass if it were possible, but her intestines would probably shut down entirely, therefore needing a feeding tube for the rest of her life.

      Weight loss surgery is considered safe when compared to other surgeries, and deaths are rare when you have a competent surgeon.

      There are possible complications that may occur shortly after surgery or later.

      Woman standing on a scale.
      Losing weight is an excellent reminder of your goals.

      Short Term Complications:

      • Bleeding
      • Infection/leaks
      • Blood Clots

      Long Term Complications/Conditions:

      • Initial Failure to Lose:  Surgery is ineffective for weight loss. Your pouch may be too large, or you ignore dietary instructions.
      • Intolerance of Foods:  All foods can be eaten after weight loss surgery, but your body may fail to tolerate certain types of foods.
      • Sleeve Dilation:  Your pouch stretches over time, and you consume more abundant food than recommended.
      • Because of your larger meals, your weight loss may stop, and weight gain starts.
      • Dyspepsia:  An upset stomach or indigestion frequently occurs, especially after the vertical sleeve gastrectomy.
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      Take a moment to reflect on your journey.
      • Addiction Transfer:  You can no longer self medicate your emotions with food, thus creating a new coping mechanism such as alcohol, drugs, or sex abuse after surgery.
      • Divorce: Another personal aftermath of surgery.  On average, 50% of bariatric patients divorce post-surgery.
      • GERD: Known as acid reflux disease, heartburn including bloating, nausea, fullness, an upset stomach can occur after bariatric surgery.
      • Stomach narroving: The scarring and narrowing of the stomach can make it difficult to digest food.
      • Delayed Leak
      • Stomach Ulcer
      Woman standing by the beach with her hair blowing in the wind.
      Your weight loss journey can be overwhelming at times.
      • Prolonged nausea:  This is common after the gastric sleeve surgery. It usually improves after surgery, might need medication if it continues.
      • Vitamin and mineral defficiencies:  To avoid nutritional deficiency, need vitamins and minerals after surgery.
      • Regain:  This usually happens in the third year after surgery.
      • Sagging Skin
      • Gall Stones
      • Diarrhea
      • Malnutrition

      My Thoughts and Experience with Weight Loss Surgery

      Morbid obesity is a complex disease because you cannot stop eating, unlike stopping drugs and alcohol you need food to live.

      Disordered eating is usually a side effect of some mental and psychological trauma and abuse.  My childhood trauma led to my morbid obesity. It is a progressive disease, slowly worsening over time.  Obesity is more than just an addiction to food.  Excessive eating is a coping tool for emotional and psychological distress.

      Weight loss surgery was a necessary tool I utilized to treat my morbid obesity.  I had all of the health issues that went along with obesity.  I mentally and physically prepared for surgery and have maintained my health consistently over the past 18 months after my surgery.

      The aftermath of my gastric sleeve surgery was not complicated.  I had some sensitivity on my incision sites and pain on my abdominal muscles when I rotated my body.

      Woman stretching in the sun.
      Always learn from your mistakes, you are not perfect.

      The gastric sleeve was my first ever major surgery, and my main side effects were extreme fatigue and pain after surgery.

      The pain after surgery was a new sensation, but with careful monitoring, I was able to stop my pain medication within my first week after surgery.

      Other side effects after surgery I experienced were extreme hair loss six months after surgery and low mood twelve months after surgery.

      Overall I am thankful for losing over 77% of my excessive weight.  All of my obesity-related illnesses are in remission.

      I do not take my health for granted.  I am aware of my health daily and its priority in my life.

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        Kelsey Renae Schulze


        Kelsey is a post-op bariatric patient who had sleeve surgery in 2018. She is a writer, focusing on a variety of topics given her background in legal studies and criminal justice.