Weight loss surgery is obviously something that should be regarded as a last resort; after all else has been tried but has failed to succeed. It has attendant risks and possible complications attached to it which one needs to be mindful of and take into account when deciding on a course of action.
Also weight loss surgery is not for everyone – some people may be medically advised against it, and for some other obese people, it may simply not work in the way that it is supposed to.
There is also the expert view, as offered by BCC contributor Dr. David Haslam, a GP specializing in obesity care, that palliative care and not surgery, may be the better option for those who are severely obese.
Like the United States, the United Kingdom is also in the midst of an obesity epidemic with more than a million individuals who are classified as “severely and morbidly obese”.
Dr. Haslam warns that perhaps the wrong people are getting obesity surgery done, and that the fattest people could actually benefit more from palliative care.
The benefits of bariatric care are many and undeniable, but those people who really need this surgery do not actually get it. One reason why this is so, is the fact that the availability of the surgery and surgeons is limited.
Doctors who can perform laparoscopic surgeries and centers where they can be performed are not as many as are required. Secondly administrative guidelines are such that often the wrong people end up qualifying for surgery.
The case made out is that those people who are likely to make the best use of their surgery, by reducing enough weight to once again lead normal, active lives, who are young enough to make the best use of it, should be the ones getting the surgery.
Those people who are in a sense ‘too far gone’, who have been housebound for years because of their obesity, who have several other illnesses and who have little hope of once again leading an active, constructive life should be favored less when it comes to obesity surgery.
Surgery should be available to people before they become morbidly obese, before their health deteriorates to the extent that they become ‘eligible’ for the surgery. Also for those who are just too big, palliative care may be the more practical solution – rather like a person with a terminal incurable illness.