Even “safe” weight control surgery could be dangerous.[@@]
A research team led by Dr. P. James Dyck, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., is about to publish a paper about a finding that 16% patients who got their stomachs stapled end up with nerve damage, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The patients developed “peripheral neuropathy,” or damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms ranged from numbness in the feet to pain serious enough to confine patients to wheelchairs.
Stomach stapling patients may suffer nerve damage because they eat so little food that they become malnourished, the Dyck team suggests.
Patients who participated in nutritional programs after undergoing bariatric surgery were less likely to develop nerve damage, and Dyck and other Mayo Clinic doctors concede that, for some patients, the benefits of overcoming morbid obesity may outweigh the risks associated with undergoing bariatric surgery.
“I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have this surgery,” Dyck says in a statement about the study findings. “But I am saying that there are real potential complications and that good follow-up care is necessary.”