“Listen, if you’re one hundred pounds overweight at age fifty, you have the same mortality rate as if you have a solid cancer. Would you operate for cancer? Yeah. So if you cannot lose that weight, get one of these procedures.”
USA Today recently reported on Dr. Oz’s advocacy of gastric bypass surgery, and stance that is causing quite a bit of buzz.
The subject of gastric bypass is a sensitive one. It’s risky and it’s not always supported as a wise choice by doctors. In Dr. Oz’s interview he made bold statements in support of bypass surgery. While his take is more bold and direct in it’s delivery than most, is he alone in his beliefs? Experts weigh in.
Dr. James Early, M.D. is the Medical Director of Via Christi Weight Management in Wichita, KS. He also was a collaborator with Dr. Oz on his book You on a Diet. On a daily basis, Dr. Early is dealing with over weight and obese patients and their struggles in health. While he did agree with Dr. Oz’s stance, he was clear to express that, “it’s very important that each patient is individually assessed.”
Dr. Early explained that there are no identical cases and all the factors have to be measured. He explained how each obese 50-year old is dealing with different ailments. Some may be struggling with diabetes, damaged knees, or high blood pressure as a result of the weight. These problems have to be stacked against the risks of surgery. Early’s patients are all required to go through a medically supervised weight loss program for at least 6 months before they can be a candidate for surgery. However, his thoughts aligned with Dr. Oz, as he described using surgery.
“Surgery is not the cure for obesity, but it can be a wonderful tool.” Dr. Early continued his point by reaffirming, “Surgery is one of our strongest tools in dealing with obesity.”
Dr. Josh Umbehr, M.D. is a concierge family physician with Atlas MD in Wichita, KS. Having a degree in human nutrition, Dr. Umbehr also works in weight management. Dr. Umbehr supports a medically supervised program called Lifestyles Strategies.
Dr. Umbehr is not a big supporter of bypass surgery as he refers to the stats.
“Statistics show that most people will continue to have a BMI greater than 30 (obese) even after successful surgery.”
Dr. Umbehr also points out how the results of bypass are not creating a different result than dieting.
“Its important to me that my patients understand that the science behind the surgery is the same science behind regular diet and exercise…ie, calorie restriction. It doesn’t change their metabolism or anything, it just reminds and restricts them via pain to eat less.”
And perhaps above all the statistics, Dr. Umbehr doesn’t feel that most surgery patients are truly ready to change their behaviors. “Patients can fail the surgery (and many do) if they aren’t really ready for a life style change.”
He continued on this point by saying, “Too many patients aren’t psychologically ready to change their lifestyles for life long success because they want and expect the surgery to be a silver bullet.”
And finally when asked why he disagrees with Dr. Oz’s statements, Dr. Umbehr replied, “As a surgeon, I think Dr. Oz focuses on the immediate solution of a surgery as opposed to medical and behavioral therapy.”
Dr. Oz did make a strong statement and got medical professionals talking. Gastric bypass is obviously controversial and may always be. While many other surgeries are performed without much discussion, gastric bypass carries too many unique factors to become routine. While many of the doctors feel more pro or con, few fail to see the benefits of each others’ views. As weight is primarily a lifestyle and behavior result, this subject will most likely remain in the gray.