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Fad Bariatric Surgery Part 2: Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy

Recently, the Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy has gained popularity among patients and surgeons, just as occurred with the Gastric Band in previous years; again, for the same reason, the latest and the simplest operation tends to be regarded as the best; another “fad” bariatric surgery trend. If a patient prefers Sleeve Gastrectomy, many bariatric surgeons will not attempt to recommend otherwise, even if an individual patient’s weight and health requirements would make Gastric Bypass the best choice. Again, this is because the Sleeve Gastrectomy is the surgeon’s preference because it is a relatively easier and quicker operation to perform, though it may not be the best operation for the patient.

In fact, many bariatric surgeons, who claim to be part of a bariatric “program” or “center” or “institute” or “academy”, do not even offer the option of Gastric Bypass to their patients and often are incapable of performing Gastric Bypass, a more advanced laparoscopic operation that requires greater skill, expertise, and experience than the Gastric Band or Sleeve Gastrectomy. In fact, these same surgeons often try to dissuade patients from having the Gastric Bypass, themselves presenting false information to patients about the Gastric Bypass’s “ill effects”, complication rate, length of hospitalization, or recovery period, when, in fact, the Gastric Bypass is (in expert hands) a very safe, highly effective operation that represents the best choice for many patients suffering from Severe Obesity.

What these surgeons will not tell patients is that the Sleeve Gastrectomy has been in widespread use for only the past 5-7 years. Therefore, its long-term results are not known. Specifically, it is not known whether the tubular-shaped “sleeve” stomach will gradually enlarge over several years, permitting the patient to eat more before experiencing a sensation of fullness, enabling them to take in more food, more calories and, therefore, regain weight.

For unethical surgeons, the relatively inferior average weight loss of the Gastric Band and its high long-term failure rate actually represent a windfall. These surgeons continue to perform Gastric Band on a significant percentage of their patients, then for the significant percentage of previous Gastric Band patients who experience band failure, these surgeons then perform band removal, followed at a later time, by Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy; again, regardless of the patient’s specific individual health issues, essentially going from one “fad” operation to another, with all the operations performed in an outpatient surgery center they own, with Out-of-Network billing.

To learn about more “fad” bariatric surgeries, stay tuned for the third installment of our blog series.