A friend of my mine recently told me about how her primary care physician has recommended she get weight loss surgery, and has been sending her for several pre-op tests. I was completely surprised...mainly because she doesn't look like anyone who actually needs the surgery. Sure, she had gained weight over the last year due to stressful life circumstances, but I have also seen her lose 50lbs plus just by tracking her food on my fitness pal...that's all she did, no exercising or going to the gym, and otherwise leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle. And it only took her about 6 months to lose it, and she still ate mostly what she wanted, just decreased portions. No joke. I expressed my shock, and she cited all these reasons the doctor gave her, and was basically giddy with excitement over the idea of having surgery and magically getting down to her teenage weight without having to do anything about it. Of seeing herself at that size again. I don't think she gets the reality of what those surgeries do...because she is someone who loves to eat good food, and depending on which surgery you get it changes what and how much you can eat, and can cause issues if you don't follow the guidelines given. So you still have to be aware of what you are eating and how much, and for someone who doesn't want to have to do that now to lose weight and help yourself I don't know how you make yourself do that for the rest of your life after the surgery.
Now, I am totally not saying I don't think weight loss surgery is okay. I definitely believe there are people to whom it is extremely beneficial for. Those people, for instance, who for whatever reason hit a certain point, a certain weight, where just changing eating habits isn't enough but where physical exercise is nearly impossible. Those people with a genetic disposition to obesity and can't change their course no matter what measures they take. I am in healthcare, and I have seen negative effects of the surgeries on people who fail to be compliant after surgery, and also those freak things that happen because of the surgery down the road. To me, and obviously also to insurance companies, the need for the surgery has to out-weight the risks of not having it. Which brings me to my next point...
My friend has been sent for a million pre-op tests. But the amount of appointments with the amount of doctors she had had to see is insane, and this has been going on for months now. I finally asked her if something more serious was going on, like maybe they found something wrong or unexpected. And that is when she tells me...they can't find anything wrong with her...which means she won't qualify for the surgery. So her primary care doctor has been ordering even more tests-in depth, off-the-wall things-looking for something, so that she can qualify for the surgery. As someone who has been in healthcare my whole career, this sends up a bunch of red flags and alarms. I keep listening to her. She also has had to see a dietitian as part of this, which isn't covered by insurance. Basically anyone who is trying to get this surgery covered by insurance has to go on a diet for 4-6 months to see how much weight they can lose on their own. She tells me her primary care doctor has told her if she loses even 5lbs on this diet, she won't qualify for the surgery, so she has to "follow" the diet and exercise plan, but not actually lose any weight. Which she knows she could easily lose the 50lbs plus.
So I am just flabbergasted. We are close friends, so I tell her my thoughts, just so I have said it. She would absolutely do the same for me. She has spent months seeing every doctor under the sun and getting all these crazy tests that have found absolutely nothing. In all that time she could have lost at least half the weight. She is just seeing the dietitian this week, so she has another 4 months at the minimum before she could even get the surgery scheduled if she manages to get it approved through her insurance company. She will have been working on this for 7-8 months at that point. She could already be really close to her goal size.
I did mention the possibility that her primary care doctor could be getting some kind of kick back from this surgeon for the referrals. I have never heard of any primary care doctor who is on the up and up push a completely normal, healthy patient so hard and order so many tests that all come up negative, and give advice to not even lose 5 lbs in 4-6 months but "follow" the diet, so you can qualify for a surgery you clearly don't really need. No one wants to think that their doctor might not be totally legit, and so of course she defended him. But at least I said it, and can't be that friend who kept her mouth shut. I also told her she really needed to think about the risks...and apparently since she was told that the surgery was laparoscopic she thinks that means it is no big deal. Any time you have foreign instruments introduced to your body and are altering your body there is a risk. Plus, you are always subject to human error. Things like that happen in surgery all the time. And there is always the possibility that the insurance company denies the claim and won't pay for it. In which case I don't think she would still go through with it. But there is also the chance that if they deny the claim and realize all the doctors visits and tests were for that reason, they could deny those, too.
Sometimes having a medical mind is a hindrance, because I know all the bad things that can happen, and at times it tends to make me jump to the worse-case-senario and everything is a tumor because I have witnessed such horrible and off the wall things some out of nothing.. But in situations like this, it helps because I can see the red flags and know when something doesn't seem quite right. I just hope everything works out well for my friend.