An unfortunate fact is that obesity creates deeper issue than just physical ones, as it was found that undergoing weight loss surgery increases the likelihood of suicide in patients after around three years of gastric bypass.
- The study followed 8,800 patients 3 years before and after their surgery
- Most of them underwent gastric bypass, a procedure which essentially shrinks the stomach
- Around 1.3% of them reported to the ER after self-inflicted injuries, that is a 54% increase in risk
- Patients suffering from obesity don’t often show up at their follow-ups after the surgery
A study in Canada followed a number of over 8,800 patients for a period of three years before and after their weight loss surgery. Most of them underwent bariatric surgery, commonly known as gastric bypass. It’s a procedure that helps patients achieve weight loss by reducing stomach capacity and shrinking it to the size of a shot glass.
However, their problems did not end simply because of a slimmer body, which emphasizes the need for better post-op care. Among the patients, 111 of them, or 1.3% have required emergency care for self-inflicted injuries between the first and next three years after surgery. A majority have also seen an increase in chances to battle depression or even suicide attempts through drug abuse, or other means.
While it seems a relatively small percentage, it’s still three times higher than it is for the average population. It’s also 54% increase in same patients than it was in the three years before they went under the knife.
As stated by Dr. John Morton from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, even if the burden of unhealthy extra weight is removed, “you don’t remove the burden of disease”. Psychological issues might linger for much longer after that. Self-esteem issues don’t repair themselves over night, and even their newly found healthy weight will not be able to quickly amend such problems.
According to Dr. Amir Ghaferi, author of a paper accompanying the study, these findings suggest that gastric bypass patients require more long-term behavior care even in the years after. Better support or more frequent follow-ups should be required in order to make sure the patient’s mental health has not declined. Unfortunately, this isn’t how things work.
Most people who go through bariatric surgery don’t often come back to see their doctor. Whether they’re doing really well, or really badly, they fall off the radar and are not frequently seen again. As admitted by Ghaferi, “bariatric surgery follow-up is notoriously poor”, and while they attempt to maintain at least a one year follow-up, it’s incredibly difficult.
Weight loss surgeries have grown significantly in popularity within the last couple of years. People suffering from obesity who cannot shed the extra pounds through exercise, diet or medication often opt to gastric bypass as an alternative. Like all types of surgeries though, it’s not risk free.
Other than dangers of malnutrition post-op, patients should either benefit and willingly attend follow-ups regarding their mental health, or the study underlines the possibility of better screening patients prone to self-harm before the surgery.
Image source: hopkinsmedicine.org