Our waistlines are said to be increasing but does that mean we should go under the knife to solve the problem?
By Amy Chater
According to researchers from Imperial College London, up to two million people in England could be eligible for bariatric surgery (otherwise known as weight loss surgery). That is over 5% of the entire UK adult population.
Bariatric surgery is available on the NHS but only for those who have potentially life threatening obesity, and when other lifestyle changes haven’t worked; those ‘eligible’ are defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or over or having a combination of a high BMI of over 35 in addition to a serious health condition such as heart disease or diabetes.
BMI is calculated by dividing your weight (kg) by your height squared (m), for example a woman weighing 64kg who is 1.7m tall would have a BMI of 22.1. This is in the healthy range. Your BMI should be between 18.5 – 24.9 to be a healthy weight for your height. Anyone with a BMI above 25 is classed as overweight. This can be inaccurate as people with a lot of muscle mass, such as athletes and sportsmen weigh heavier and are therefore ‘overweight’ when in actual fact they are very fit and healthy with minimal fat. Those with a BMI over 30 are classed as being obese.
Doctors are often critical of whether a person has properly attempted diet and exercise.
As adults, we are all supposed to exercise for 2.5 hours a week. That is a lot of exercise, even for a reasonably active person to undertake. If someone is already overweight they are unlikely to be able to achieve this level of exercise.
Adult females are advised to eat 2000 calories a day. Adult men are allowed slightly more at 2,500. It is estimated that the average person eats 10% more calories than they need do and this excess calorie intake leads to weight gain.
It is not quite as easy as having a high BMI and a high failure rate with diet and exercise, there is also small print as to whether you are eligible for surgery. One obvious condition, but not one that is always met, is that you are healthy enough to withstand the surgery. You should also commit to following a long term treatment plan afterwards. Finally, depending upon where you live in the country, your local clinical commissioning group might have different rules again.
If you are found to be eligible and decide to go ahead with weight loss surgery, it is crucial to ensure your surgeon is competent and experienced in carrying out your particular weight loss procedure, and that they discuss the risks and benefits with you.
All surgery carries risks and weight loss surgery is not exempt. Statistically 1 in 10 patients will suffer a complication after gastric band surgery (a band reduces the size of your stomach) and a higher rate of 1 in 5 following a gastric bypass (part of your stomach is surgically bypassed making it smaller).
We, as specialist Clinical Negligence solicitors, are very experienced in investigating cases where our clients have had problems with weight loss surgery. Usually we are contacted by a patient or their family after they have had surgery when a complication has occurred. Frustratingly, we have come across situations where the complication has arisen, partly because the patient shouldn’t have undergone the weight loss surgery in the first place, for example when another procedure would have been more suitable, or they should have tried further weight loss techniques first and therefore the complications they suffered should have been avoided completely.
If you think you have suffered as a result of negligent weight loss surgery then please contact me or one of my colleagues and we can advise you as to your options.