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Fad Bariatric Surgery Part 4: The Allure of “Fad” Bariatric Surgery

Severe Obesity is a complex, multifactorial metabolic disease often accompanied by several serious health problems (comorbidities) such as Hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, High Cholesterol or Triglycerides, Metabolic Syndrome, Heart Disease, Asthma, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Liver disease, Urinary Stress incontinence, Irregular Menses, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Infertility, Chronic Back and Joint pain, Chronic Headaches, Migraine Headaches, Fibromyalgia, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Mobility Dysfunction, and others, as well as an increased risk of heart disease (if not already present), an increased risk of several types of cancer and a decreased average life-expectancy, all of which will usually improve or remit with weight loss after effective bariatric surgery.

In addition, Severe Obesity also imposes significant restrictions on many of the freedoms and simple pleasures of life, restricting where a person can buy clothes, the activities a person can enjoy with spouse or children or friends, how well a person can sleep, how a person can travel, as well as adversely impacting social and job opportunities. Finally, patients with Severe Obesity have often endured a lifetime of embarrassment, disrespect, mistreatment, isolation, ridicule, inappropriate judgement and discrimination by others, and limited social and employment opportunities.

Therefore, patients with Severe Obesity have a great desire to not only lose weight, but to rid themselves of these health problems and social issues that so profoundly affect the quality of their lives. However, for patients with Severe Obesity, non-surgical treatment is almost always ineffective, often leading to simplistic accusations of laziness and a lack of willpower or self-discipline by those ignorant of the disease nature of Severe Obesity. This failure and unwarranted criticism can then lead patients to develop a sense of futility, resignation, powerlessness, and hopelessness, imprisoned within a body they did not create and cannot escape.

Consequently, patients with Severe Obesity are highly emotionally invested in what bariatric surgery promises to deliver. They often regard their surgery date as a second birthday, a new beginning, a fresh start, an end to suffering, a new life. In addition, many patients are not aware of the specifics of their particular insurance policy, whether it has a benefit for bariatric surgery or the differences between contractual In-Network benefits which guarantee fee payments and non-contractual Out-of-Network benefits, for which fee payments may not be guaranteed. In addition, they are unlikely to know that Out-of-Network benefits may also have out-of-pocket deductible and copay requirements higher than In-Network contracts.

For all these reasons, patients suffering from Severe Obesity are particularly vulnerable targets for the machinations, misleading claims, and untrustworthy recommendations of shamefully unethical and exploitative surgeons, whose primary goal is to “crank out” the highest number of procedures and operations per day, week, month, accompanied by enormous financial gain if they own the facility where these procedures are performed and use Out-of-Network benefits; thus preferring and encouraging the easiest, quickest, most lucrative bariatric operation to perform rather than the one that best treats the patient’s individual health problems and best serves their long-term interests, all of which, most patients accept without question because they trust their surgeon, whom they consider to be their long-awaited rescuer, their liberator, their “answer”.

For tips on how to find the best bariatric surgeon for your needs, and avoid one that promotes “fad” bariatric surgery procedures, stay tuned for our next blog post.