Researchers found that a few years after the surgery, patients that didn’t see any improvements brought by bariatric surgery contemplated suicide more than their peers that had a successful procedure or didn’t underwent a similar procedure.
Study authors say the findings suggest these people also need psychological support in the follow-up years. According to study’s background info, bariatric surgery is a helpful tool to treat morbid obesity since it can lead to 60 to 80 percent lower weight in the first year.
Dr. Donald Redelmeier explained that the procedure can be a “successful operation” for many patients and their doctors. The weight loss is tremendous and some patients even reported that they managed to get rid of their diabetes along with the extra pounds.
Yet, one to two percent of patients see little to no changes after the procedure. Study authors found that in their case failed weight loss surgery may boost suicide risk because of the despair of losing a potent weapon in their battle against obesity.
Dr. Redelmeier recalls that he had one such patient who had attempted suicide because two years earlier she underwent the surgery and there were no improvements in her condition. The doctors said that the woman was so upset that she refused to contact her GP, surgeon and family psychiatrist afterwards.
She would rather suffer in silence because of embarrassment and disappointment liked to the failed surgery. But at some point, the pain became unbearable and no one was around her to lend her a hand. And her case is not unique.
In less than a decade, bariatric surgery became very popular among obese patients. In Canada for instance, weight loss surgeries jumped from 1.600 cases in 2006 to 6,500 cases in 2013. Usually patients resort to the procedure because exercise and diet doesn’t seem to help. Other health complications such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea also provide patients with solid motives to undergo surgery.
But researchers analyzed health records of 8,815 Canadians who underwent weight loss surgery and found that about 111 patients attempted suicide in the first three years following the procedure. The study also revealed that the risk of suicide jumped 54 percent in the second and third year following a failed weight loss surgery.
Researchers urge patients that are disappointed with the results to talk to their surgeon or a mental health professional if they suspect they developed anxiety or depression.
“You’re not alone after the surgery is over, even if the results are not a success,”
Dr. Redelmeier said.
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