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Weight Loss Surgeries Yield Positive and Negative Effects

Update Date: Feb 10, 2014 01:54 PM EST

Studies examining the effects of weight loss surgeries tend to focus on either the pros or the cons of the results for the patients. These studies tend to report that weight loss surgeries improve overall quality of life without really analyzing potential negative consequences of losing so much weight.

In a new report, Karen Synne Groven from the University of Oslo in Norway focused on the positive and negatives of bariatric surgery gastric bypass. In her doctoral thesis, Groven concluded that even though surgery improves social acceptance for these women, the weight loss still leaves them with body issues.

For this thesis, Groven interviewed 22 women between the ages of 24 and 54 who underwent bariatric surgery gastric bypass. This surgery involves reducing stomach size and altering a part of the small intestine so that the patients are forced to intake smaller amounts of food. The interviews took place roughly 2.5 to four years after surgery. Groven concluded that the effects of this type of weight loss surgery lie in between successful and unsuccessful.

"This is both a success and a failure, it is not either/or," Groven explained according to Medical Xpress. "Some things get better, but new problems arise. And how women experience these problems vary significantly."

The researchers found that for female patients, many of them reported increased self-esteem. These women stated that the weight loss increased their desire to speak out and they believed that more people listened to them. Despite the increase in attention, many of the female patients stated that it was hard to admit that they needed surgery in order to be heard. Other patients found it hard to tell people that they underwent surgery and instead, they chose to lie and stated that they were on a diet.

Groven found that five out of the 22 women stated that their quality of life was worse after the weight loss because of chronic stomach and intestine issues due to the surgery. The same five women also reported feeling no energy at all. One of the five women had to undergo a second surgery after tests revealed problems with her scar tissue. However, none of the women stated that they regretted undergoing the surgery.

"They say they would have done the same today and that they had no choice considering their life before surgery. Some said that the pains were a small price to pay," Groven said.

Aside from these issues, the researchers found that one of the biggest concerns that patients faced after surgery was skin. After gastric bypass, patients had to deal with extremely loose skin. For these women to get skin removal surgery, they must first reach a certain amount of weigh reduction. After the weight loss, the patients have to maintain a stable weight. Aside from these requirements, skin removal surgery comes with a lot of risks.

"It is given little focus before the operation; patients are often told that this is something that can be fixed afterwards. But it is not so easily fixed, and the women are not prepared for the challenge of having to live with the loose skin," said Groven. "They think of the saggy skin as unattractive, uncomfortable and unfeminine."

The study's findings were provided by Norway's Information Center for Gender Research.

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