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When Slimming Surgeries Go Sour

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

Over the past few weeks, we've highlighted some of the health benefits of weight loss surgery. However, not all surgeries go as planned, and complications can occur.

"The complication rate for the gastric bypass is less than five percent, and the risk of mortality is less than one percent," Bariatric Surgeon Dr. John Mason said.

"It is low, I just happened to be one of the lucky ones,"Gastric Bypass Patient E.J. Eyre said.

When Eyre topped the scale at 319 pounds, he knew it was time for a change.

"I've got a granddaughter that's 19 months old, and a grandson that I think is eight, and I want to be around to see them so I decided to go ahead and get it done," Eyre said.

Eyre knew there was always the risk of complications. But after getting a clean bill of health the day after his surgery, he thought he was in the clear.

"Monday I had the surgery, that Tuesday I remember vaguely going down for a swallow test, it's like an upper GI," Eyre said. "They actually check for leaks, and they did not see any. As it turns out I did have one."

From that moment on, Eyre says the next 12 days are an absolute blank.

During that time, he was rushed back to the operating table, where doctors washed out the inside of his belly, and repaired the leak.

Bariatric Surgeon Dr. Richard Alford says "Anytime you divide the stomach and re-plumb it and make new connections between the small bowel and stomach and change that anatomy there are risks of infection, leakage, and other things like that."

After his second surgery, Eyre was placed on a ventilator and was in a coma for nearly two weeks.

"They tried to take me off the vent once and I wouldn't start breathing apparently so they left me on it," Eyre said.

Eyre was finally taken off of the ventilator on the twelfth day.

"Exercise is very important because the body can use muscle mass as energy source much faster than fat. If one is not using their muscles the body will use them up for energy and they'll become more weak," Mason said.

Such was the case with Eyre.

"When I first came out of the coma I couldn't stand out of the bed by myself, and I had to walk with a walker," Eyre said.

Now two months after his surgery Eyre has already lost 45 pounds, and is now starting to enjoy some of the higher points from his surgery.

Eyre stresses that surgery is not the best option for everyone.

"If you're healthy, your legs are good, get out and walk do something and think long and hard before you put yourself under the knife because it can go bad," Eyre said.

Personal Trainer Trevor Carney says the old fashion method of diet and exercise can prove just as successful as surgery if done faithfully.

"You need to eat X amount of calories, and if you're eating X amount of calories and you're exercising and burning even more, then you're going to lose weight," Carney said.

Carney says even those who opt for surgery will still have to make a lifestyle change that includes diet and exercise.

"I'm not against it, I'm all about whatever it takes for somebody to get healthy but I think there is a better option," Carney said. "I think definitely people need to change their mentality about the surgery, but it can be used as a useful tool to fight obesity.

"It's not a magic cure all," Eyre said "It's not going to make you healthy you have to make yourself healthy and there is the possibility of things going wrong up to and including death."

And despite the problems Eyre experienced with his own surgery, and losing 12 days of his life, he still feels gastric bypass was his best option.

"I would recommend it to anybody," Eyre said.


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