It’s no surprise to most Americans that weight gain and obesity rates are at an all-time high right now. Therefore, it’s also no surprise that more and more U.S. citizens are opting for bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery – or weight loss surgery – involves reducing someone’s stomach size. This is accomplished through either the use of a gastric band, or by removing a portion of the stomach.
Weight loss surgery can also entail rerouting the small intestine to a small pouch in the stomach.
As drastic as these procedures sound, the effects are undeniable. Many people who undergo bariatric surgery have success and lose weight. But at what cost?
According to Medical News Today, “Researchers led by Wendy C. King, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in Pennsylvania, set out to examine the long-term evolution of patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. King and colleagues found a link between having the procedure and alcohol problems.”
“Specifically, the team focused on Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (RYGB) – a type of weight loss surgery that changes the structure of the small intestine and makes the stomach smaller, reducing it to the size of an egg.”
Unfortunately, the researchers discovered that:
“One in 5 patients developed alcohol problems within 5 years of surgery.”
“The team examined more than 2,300 patients who were enrolled in the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery-2 (LABS-2) over a follow-up period of 7 years. LABS-2 is a prospective, observational cohort study of people who had weight loss surgery in 10 hospitals across the U.S.”
“During the follow-up, RYGB was the most popular procedure, undergone by 1,481 patients. Most of the remaining patients (522) had another procedure called laparoscopic gastric banding, in which an adjustable band is inserted around the upper part of the patient’s stomach, limiting their intake of food.”
“Over the 7-year follow-up period, both the RYGB group and the laparoscopic gastric banding group consumed more alcohol. However, only RYGB patients also presented with symptoms of alcohol use disorder.”
“The symptoms were measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test – a 10-item alcohol use assessment tool developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).”
“The study revealed that 20.8 percent of RYGB patients went on to develop alcohol use disorder symptoms within 5 years of having the procedure. By contrast, only 11.3 percent of the laparoscopic gastric banding patients developed similar problems.”
“Additionally, of those participants without alcohol use issues in the year before the intervention, RYGB patients were over twice as likely to develop alcohol use problems over a 7-year period, compared with those who had laparoscopic gastric banding.”
Unfortunately, the researchers are unable to determine the direct cause of these risks. However, previous testing shows the surgery can increase alcohol levels more quickly in the bloodstream.
In addition, the surgery may be hindering its patients more than helping them. Studies have also shown the surgery may heighten alcohol tolerance by affecting the reward centers in the brain.
When it comes down to it, significant weight gain and obesity are serious issues. After all, these can drastically affect your health and well-being. However, it’s important to greatly consider the risks before undergoing any type of major surgery. After all, complications from this major undertaking may do more harm than good for the patient.