Friday, May 10, 2013

It Only Seems Like Magic

The news this week about Governor Chris Christie got us thinking about how some other well known people who have benefited from weight loss surgery over the years. Looking over the names, we realized that while almost all of them seem to have made some very genuine improvements that would have been all but impossible to achieve prior to such bariatric procedures as the lap-band. the gastric sleeve and bypass, life goes on. They are all obviously healthier, but all of them appear to have had their share of ups and downs, also. 

Comedian Ralphie May is not as well known as some of the others, though in his own way he's nearly as controversial and outspoken as Governor Christie. Although still a very large man by any definition, he's lost well over 400 pounds from a high that was reportedly close to 800 pounds. Even as May has made very obvious and public progress since his surgery, his struggles have continued in other ways. Having trimmed down considerably thanks to a serious diet and exercise regimen, his problems did not completely evaporate.

By his own account, May had to cancel appearances in order to go into rehab last year in order to deal with post traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and some resulting issues with drugs and alcohol, triggered by multiple brushes with death. Not all of his health issues were directly weight-related, as May's first major brush with death was from an car accident at age 16 in which he broke 42 bones. A more recent close call, however, involved a pulmonary embolism related to double pneumonia, which may well have been exacerbated by his weight and other lifestyle issues.

The point here is that, while Mr. May is actually doing very well in terms of his bariatric surgery, issues such as PTSD had to be deal with separately. Severely obese people often tend to think that losing excess weight will solve all of their problems. However, what they invariably find is that they still have many of the same issues, despite their significantly improved health and appearance.

Whatever types of weight loss surgery our patients are receiving, we always counsel them to look at their entire situation and not only their weight. We know it's hard to believe sometimes, but thin people have problems, too.

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