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Lapband Approved for Lower BMIs

(Correction: Allergen had aimed to get the lapband approved for healthy people with 35-40 BMIs, but it seems that part of their proposal didn't actually go through. The New York Daily News article I'd linked to originally wasn't entirely accurate. The link below now leads straight to the FDA press release. Sorry about that. Slowing learning how to do journalism...)

The lap band has now been officially approved for people with a 30-35 bmi and a weight-correlated condition or risk factor.

I've been thinking for a couple of weeks that I should post something on this topic. However, I just hate dwelling on it. It's so fucking tragic. I get angry.

Smart doctors and scientists know that weight isn't just calories in and calories out, but we still love the idea of starving the fatties, and that's what WLS is all about. It's crude and barbaric, like an invisible and intrusive jaw wiring. Weight loss surgery is one of the only medical procedures intended to damage a healthy, functional system and it can be deadly, both immediately and in the long term. Lap band-related deaths are being investigated in New York and in in California. For those who survive lap band surgery, there are significant long-term risks and complications that are the rule, rather than the exception:

Swiss researchers, who published a study in the medical journal Obesity Surgery, found that the complication rate skyrocketed to 74 percent over a 10-year period. Complications include leakage and infection along the Lap-Band, frequent vomiting, dysphagia (an inability to swallow), surgical revision, band erosion and slippage or failure.

A 2007 study funded by Allergan and published in the American Journal of Surgery found that up to 76 percent of patients developed complications over three years. Over a nine-year period, one-third of patients had their Lap-Band removed.

Stomach acid produced from excessive vomiting can erode the band, just one reason for device removal.

This is despite the fact that the lap band is marketed as safer and less extreme than other forms of WLS. Oh, and it isn't even all that effective for weight loss.

In the end, I just have to ask why it isn't obvious to everyone that the trend of approving weight loss surgery for ever younger and lighter people is coming from a very dark place, both on the part of the doctors marketing and performing the surgery and the people requesting it.

Lonie McMichael: Medical Rhetoric and Fat | A Non-Dieting Vignette

vesta44's picture
February 26th, 2011 | Link | It's not about health, it's

It's not about health, it's never been about health. It's all about the money - pharmaceutical companies are used to making millions of dollars in profits every year. Consider the fact that some diseases have been virtually eradicated and no longer have to be treated, which means drugs to treat them aren't created/sold/can't bring in money. Why else would the pharmaceutical companies be behind the lowering of the guidelines on BMI (for thin, average, "overweight", and "obese"), and are behind the lowering of standards to diagnose diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol? If you can diagnose more people with those problems, you can sell more drugs to treat them, create more drugs when the old drugs you created are found to be killers, etc. They've managed to convince doctors to diagnose younger and younger people with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol because of those lowered standards.
They had the standards at which people were declared "overweight" and "obese" lowered so they can push their killer diet pills and WLSurgeries on more people, why wouldn't they want to lower the BMI limits at which lapband (and possibly other WLS) can happen? It will bring in more money for the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture lapbands, and more money for the surgeons who implant them (and you know that if lapbands are done at lower BMIs, it won't be long before other WLS follows).
The real tragedy here is that Allergan is now trying to lower the age at which lapband surgery can be done. They're not satisfied with mutilating and murdering adults, now they want to have the age lowered so that children between the ages of 14 - 18, within those lowered BMI guidelines, can have the lapband. Give those fuckers an inch and they'll take 100 miles, out of our lives, and our childrens' lives, if we let them.
Shannon, at Fierce Freethinking Fatties, is setting up a group to write letters, testify, whatever it takes, when the FDA starts hearing evidence on whether they should okay the lapband for teens. He has a post on it here. He's also created a Facebook page to keep everyone updated on the progress of the FDA process, and what we can do. There's a link at the end of his post for anyone who's interested in joining the effort.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

DeeLeigh's picture
February 27th, 2011 | Link | Thanks for your comments -

Thanks for your comments - totally agreed, BTW - and for linking to that excellent post on Fierce Freethinking Fatties. Click it, people.

Nakniwa February 26th, 2011 | Link | I caved into pressure from

I caved into pressure from the world and got a lapband. I've lost forty pounds. Big freaking whoop. I could have done that on my own. All it has done is make eating difficult, and yes I vomit a lot. I consider myself a fat activist too. That's how much self hatred is rooted in our brains. Its possible to think one thing intellectually and do another subconsciously. At least it was for me. I applaud anyone who has the courage to resist the pressure to conform. I hope people like myself are a cautionary tale.
By the way you look great, headlessness aside.

moxie3's picture
March 24th, 2011 | Link | Don't feel bad Nakniwa, Did

Don't feel bad Nakniwa,

Did the same thing a few years ago and gained weight! Had it removed and had RNY and that's far from perfect too! Moxie3

Lillian's picture
February 26th, 2011 | Link | My BMI is 29. Look at my

My BMI is 29. Look at my picture. I wear a size 10. The sweater that I'm wearing is a medium.

DeeLeigh's picture
February 27th, 2011 | Link | Well, gain 5 or 10 pounds

Well, gain 5 or 10 pounds and get a blood pressure reading that is over the new, reduced cutoff for "high," and you too can have a lapband.

Lillian's picture
February 28th, 2011 | Link | White coat syndrome. I

White coat syndrome. I could also eat pancakes with syrup to get a high diabetes test. I did that once and forgot that I had eaten anything that morning.

lilacsigil February 27th, 2011 | Link | Well, logically...

It's dangerous, expensive and usually ineffective for fat people, so why not let average and thin people (and naturally self-conscious teens!) in on the fun? It's not like it's actually therapeutic for the vast majority of people...

DeeLeigh's picture
February 27th, 2011 | Link | That would be funny if it

That would be funny if it wasn't a real possibility that a lot of people would probably want to take advantage of.

richie79's picture
February 28th, 2011 | Link | Emerald, it already is

Emerald, it already is happening, to a degree, in the UK. Whilst the NICE guidance on WLS has remained unchanged (BMI 40+, or 35+ with an 'associated condition') there has been a massive year-on-year rise in bariatric operations, with the number performed in 2009/10 being almost double the previous year's figure, and I'm sure that pressure from the surgeons concerned has played a significant part in that shift. And from where I'm standing, the push toward widespread gastric mutilation seems to be having the desired effect. I've noticed a visible reduction in the numbers of 'supersized' people walking about, as well as an increase in acquaintances, colleagues etc opting to undergo the procedure, often in response to scare tactics and ultimatums on the part of their GPs.

Indeed I suspect this is one of the factors driving the push toward encouraging younger / thinner patients to face the knife - they're running out of candidates who meet the old thresholds, with most of those in the BMI 40+ ranges having already undergone it (and in the case of some of the earliest adopters, on multiple occasions). It's gone from being seen, by the media at least, as a 'last resort measure' for the tiny minority whose weight poses a greater risk of ill-health than the considerable risks of the surgery to a cosmetic quick-fix that can be carried out laparoscopically (at least in private clinics) during your lunch break - I would argue that this is partly due to its popularity amongst celebrities such as Vanessa Feltz, Fern Britton and Anne Diamond, most of whom were merely 'Hollywood fat' rather than fitting the traditional criteria for clinical weight management measures.

Of course that's unlikely to be the only factor. There seem to be parallels between the way the weight loss industry responded to the mid-1990s backlash against dieting by re-casting fat as a public health issue (as opposed to one of individual aesthetics) and the more recent deployment of this weapon of elimination against a nascent, but growing, fat acceptance movement as a method of undermining any potential numerical advantage we may have. And then there's the way in which bariatrics has become big business (by some measures, the fastest-growing and most profitable area of the health industry) and the possibility that (due to a reduction in the numbers of candidates) it could ultimately become a victim of its own success. In reality, the complication / re-admission rates associated with this crude tool are likely to keep weight centres worldwide busy for many years to come.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

vesta44's picture
March 1st, 2011 | Link | richie79 - That's the thing

richie79 - That's the thing that's most worrisome to me about this whole lapband/WLS for those with lower BMIs. They're doing them on smaller and smaller fats, knowing what the actual death rates (not the death rates they tell the public) are, and knowing what all the complications of these surgeries are, because they know damned good and well when the well has run dry for further lapband/WLS, they'll have all those patients to treat for complications whose digestive systems have been mutilated beyond repair, bringing in even more money - because those complications are for life, while the surgery isn't something that is going to be ongoing over a patient's lifetime. Talk about greedy, self-serving bastards who don't really care about their patients' health - surgeons who do lapband and WLS are it, in my book.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

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