Lap Band

  1. Stomach surgery is wrong for weight loss

    Don't cut your gut to beat disease

    Stomach-shrinking surgeries don't teach people to eat right. They just teach people to eat less -- and most patients who go under the knife learn pretty fast, too.

    You'd learn fast yourself if one too many bites of a Big Mac caused you to puke your guts up.

    But that's exactly the problem with bariatric surgeries: Eating less of your Big Mac might make you thinner… but it certainly won't make you healthier.

    That's why these procedures should be the last resort for weight loss. But right now, they're getting a big push from researchers who claim surgery can prevent diabetes.

    I admit the numbers from the latest study look pretty good: An 80 percent reduction in the risk of diabetes among obese people over 15 years, and a 90 percent reduction in risk among those with prediabetes.

    But this is one case where the numbers just don't tell the full story.

    These procedures come with more risks than most surgeons ever let on. There are the minor ones, like the vomiting afterwards, and bigger ones -- including surgical complications that could even result in death.

    Once you get over the trauma of surgery, you might end up thin and you might even avoid diabetes -- but if you keep eating lousy food, you could still put the weight back on.

    And if you keep the weight off, you're still not out of the woods -- especially if all you've learned to do is eat less of the same bad foods you ate before the surgery.

    After all, thin doesn't automatically mean healthy. And if you're thin but eating unhealthy foods, trust me -- you're not healthy. You might avoid diabetes, but you could still face everything from heart disease to dementia as a result of your diet.

    Now, I know what some of you are thinking: So why not have the surgery and then learn to eat right. You'll lose weight, avoid diabetes, and then you won't face any of those other risks, either.

    Great.

    Except…

    If you're going to learn to eat right, then you don't need the surgery in the first place. The pounds will come off -- and they'll stay off -- and you won't get diabetes, either.

    It sounds simple, and it is. It sounds easy, and it's not -- but it's certainly a much better choice than surgery.

    If you've packed on too many pounds over the years, I can help. Make an appointment to see me at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine for a highly effective weight-loss schedule customized to fit your needs by calling 760-274-2377.

  2. The worst way to lose weight

    Surgery is supposed to be the ultimate shortcut when it comes to weight loss: Let the doc put you under, and when you wake up you're on your way to a brand-new body.

    If only it were that simple.

    Now, the FDA is finally starting to crack down on the companies that promote one of the most common weight-loss procedures, the adjustable Lap Band that squeezes the stomach so you can fit less in it.

    When your stomach holds less, you eat less... and when you eat less, you lose weight.

    For many people, that's all they need to hear. If their insurance covers it, they're on their way to a new life that's a lot more difficult than any of them ever would have guessed.

    That's because while the billboards and TV ads promise quick and easy weight loss, they don't really talk about risks. And they barely even mention that this is a major surgery with serious side effects, up to and including death.

    In some cases, the Lap-Band needs to be adjusted. Some patients need two or more surgeries before it's on right, and they face the risks of complications each time they go under the knife.

    Once the band is in place, patients often experience difficulty swallowing, severe and miserable heartburn, and nausea.

    Although the FDA's recent warning was specifically directed at a series of clinics offering Lap-Band in Southern California, those warnings could have been directed at clinics across the country. Because no matter where you live, odds are you've seen signs and heard ads that conveniently leave out those very real risks.

    And believe it or not, this is actually one of the "safer" forms of weight-loss surgery. Other procedures, such as gastric bypass, promise more dramatic results -- but come with even more risks, including an even higher risk of death than the Lap-Band.

    So forget surgery. You can do a better job on your own anyway -- and as I told you a couple of weeks ago, it starts with just two days a week of an easy-to-follow low-carb diet. (Read about it here.)

    Start with two days a week -- but don't end there. Turn that two-day lifestyle into an everyday habit, and you'll lose weight the right way... and enjoy all the benefits of a thin, new you without the risks of surgery.

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