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Surgery and trauma

Bariatric surgery is causing patients’ life-long trauma

Shidrawi based his criticisms on data from he and colleagues’ recently published paper in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, which he claims shows the true impact of complications from bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery is causing life-long trauma in patients who end up in crippling pain and unable to swallow food, according to Mr Ray Shidrawi from the Academic Department of Medical and Surgical Gastroenterology at Homerton University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust in London, UK. In an interview with The Independent newspaper, he also criticised NHS guidance which lowers the threshold for doctors to assess people for bariatric surgery from 35 to 30. The benefits of weight loss procedures, said Shidrawi, only outweigh the risks for people who would otherwise die because they are morbidly obese (BMI40).

Ray Shidrawi

“This isn’t about pointing the finger at surgeons but these are serious complications that ruin people’s quality of life and can affect you for the rest of your life – or at least for months and years afterwards,” said Shidrawi. “I’ve got patients who’ve not eaten solid food for four years. They have to live on soup. They can’t go to a restaurant in case they vomit up their food because it gets stuck in their throat."

Shidrawi based his criticisms on data from he and colleagues’ recently published paper in Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (The Endoscopic Management of Post-Operative Bariatric Complications: Single-Centre, Single-Operator Experience in a Bariatric Unit in the United Kingdom), which he claims shows the true impact of complications from bariatric surgery.

A total of 150 men and women (aged from 22 to 74) suffered serious problems, out of 1,947 who underwent procedures at Homerton University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust. Those affected were referred between March 2011 and July 2014 to Homerton’s Academic Department of Medical and Surgical Gastroenterology for corrective treatment. Symptoms included abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, difficulty swallowing and failure to absorb nutrients which can lead to conditions including bone disease.

“Bariatric surgery can help people with type 2 diabetes because it changes the way the body deals with sugar. The guideline is very clear that people with a BMI of 35 or over who have recent-onset type 2 diabetes, should be offered an expedited assessment for bariatric surgery,” said Professor Mark Baker, Centre for Clinical Practice director at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. “Importantly, a new, lower threshold of BMI 30 to 34.9 for bariatric surgery consideration only applies to people who have recent-onset type 2 diabetes. The symptoms described of effects after surgery are more typical of gastric banding which we do not recommend. The adverse effects of bypass surgery over five years of follow up were taken into account in the development of our recommendations.”

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