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Myth: Weight Loss Surgery is a Death Sentence

Myth: Weight Loss Surgery is a Death Sentence

This is one I hear quite often through both ‘reality’ television and word of mouth. When someone off handedly mentions any cosmetic or weight loss surgical procedure, one of the knee jerk reactions is for someone to talk about how life threatening it could be.

First, all surgeries are potentially life threatening if not risky ( ). Any procedure that involves putting you under anesthesia and cuts you open is going to be possibly dangerous. There is always risk of dying under anesthesia, bleeding, infections, and accidents on the surgical table. But people still go under surgery all the time for things like gall bladder and stomach ulcer removal because it is sometimes the correct procedure when it comes to improving quality of life and survival.

Second, Mortality and complication rates vary from surgery to surgery and can increase or decrease over time. For example, the complication rate of stomach ulcer surgery is 42% with a mortality rate of 68% between 2008-2011. (

There was certainly a higher mortality rate amongst post op patients of weight loss surgery in the past, but it wasn’t the surgery itself that caused the deaths during recovery. The deaths that occurred in this study ( ) were either due to preexisting conditions that are common with obesity such as heart disease or stomach ulcers, or suicidal tendencies among patients a month after they undergone the operation during recovery. Since then, doctors have worked with psychologists and other medical professionals to decrease the mortality rate.

What is the current complication and mortality rate of Gastric Bypass surgery, you ask? Gastric Bypass has a complication rate of 10% and a practically nonexistent mortality rate of .02%. That’s right. For Gastric Bypass, 98.8% of people who went under the knife came back out, ready to recover. (

Just because it has a low morbidity rate now, doesn’t mean however, that you don’t need to take weight loss surgery seriously. After all, it is a tremendous change in lifestyle and routine once you have gone through such a procedure, and people respond to medical treatments in diverse ways.

It is imperative for you to talk to your doctor about what sort of treatments you need to consider, what kind of risks that come with certain treatments, and what kind of environment that you will be subjecting yourself to when you are recovering from a major weight loss surgery.

However, weight loss surgery is not an automatic death sentence, and shouldn’t be treated like one.