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Gastric bypass, divorce strongly linked

December 23, 2010

I’m really sorry I didn’t post yesterday. It’s a long story.

Anyway, I don’t have a citation for the claim in the title, but one of my famous neighbors has a son who had gastric bypass surgery (who doesn’t?). Apparently, his wife had one too, got thin, and dumped him soon after. According to my famous neighbor, divorce is common in couples affected by bariatric surgery and that surgeons are well aware of this, yet they don’t discuss it with patients (what DO they discuss, exactly?).

She said she didn’t agree with it whatsoever, but she could sort of understand the desire to explore the limits of one’s new body.

Um, I thought bariatric surgery was about health? Are you trying to tell me that this woman’s newfound health inspired her to run off with a man she met online who, as she says, shares her love of corned beef? (Yes, that’s exactly why she left him. They both loved corned beef.)

If the link is genuine, I can think of two other reasons that are probably more important than getting thin for the high divorce rate among bariatric couples. One is the eventual weight regain. I suppose if you can’t stand having a fat spouse, but you give them another chance to be thin because you are such a wonderful person, it would KILL you to see them fat again. All that work and they blow it? How lazy. And their getting fat again obviously means they don’t care about your sexual preferences, so that’s total betrayal right there.

Note: The above was dripping with sarcasm.

Number two, on a much more serious note, is the crippling, expensive complications of WLS that could lead to some couples getting divorced.

But if people knew WLS often leads to divorce, they might be inspired to learn why. And they might not have that surgery after all.

Can’t have that, can we?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2010 2:08 pm

    If you Google “gastric bypass” & divorce you will find plenty of sources that back your claim

    William

  2. vesta44 permalink
    December 23, 2010 4:39 pm

    I know of one couple who divorced after the wife had WLS because her complications were so varied, severe, and expensive that she maxed out his insurance and his insurance refused to continue covering her medical expenses. Their only option was to divorce, have her file for disability, and qualify for medical assistance. Needless to say, in order to qualify for medical assistance, they couldn’t even live together after their divorce because Social Services would then consider his contribution to household expenses, food, etc, and she wouldn’t have qualified (or would have had a humongous spend-down to meet before medical assistance kicked in).
    It’s not just the successful patients who get thin that end up getting divorced. The ones who end up with deadly, debilitating complications also end up divorced. Those same complications that can max out one’s insurance can also overwhelm a spouse who is trying to help the WLS survivor cope. If the WLS survivor can barely cope with them, just think how the spouse feels, seeing hir spouse with complications that make life a living hell, when that same surgery was supposed to improve life and health. Some people can’t deal with seeing a loved one’s health deteriorate when it was supposed to improve, can’t deal with the stress of doctors telling them that the patient is the one at fault, not the surgery (when it’s actually the surgery causing the complications, not the patient), can’t deal with the stress of trying to figure out how to help when there really isn’t any help.
    Why on earth would doctors tell patients that this could happen? Doctors don’t even tell patients about all of the complications that can happen with WLS, so why are they going to add divorce to the list of complications? Gawd forbid that anything, even if it’s true, should be told to future patients that might even remotely stop them from getting WLS. After all, surgeons need that income, they worship the almighty dollar and they just know that being fat is going to kill patients anyway, so who really cares if they die of fat or die from the surgery, as long as their money goes into the surgeon’s pocket first? After all, if a drug has as deleterious an effect on health as WLS does, that drug is recalled. Too bad the same can’t be said/done for WLS. (Cynical? Me? Why, no, not at all.)

  3. erylin permalink
    December 23, 2010 6:05 pm

    I worry about 2 of my friends, both of whom have been at their current weight and steady for 10+ years. they are both super gung ho about this and convinced it will make them thinner without work hes studying to be a nurse and simply wont look at the data involving long term success…he keeps assuring me it will be safe. meanwhile she is trying to give me her whole wardrobe (we both wear the same size, though she is MUCH shorter and rounder than i am.)

    I worry what they will do when the bubble pops, they gain the weight back (not to sound like a “good fatty” but they eat a whole hell of a lot worse than i do…) i worry about their actutal health..nothing is wrong with them now but a bunch of doctors screaming OMG FATTIES…how are they gonna react when the WLS doesn’t work they way they think it will. im sorry gastric banding is NOT as safe as you think it will be. its NOT. and if you dont change your eating habits, then that lil old pouch will stretch …and stretch.

    • vesta44 permalink
      December 24, 2010 1:41 am

      If they don’t change their eating habits, not only will that pouch stretch, but they will be vomiting, and vomiting, and vomiting. Not only is that not good for the pouch, it’s not good for one’s esophagus, nor is it good for the enamel on one’s teeth. So they’re looking at ulcers of the esophagus at the least or perforations at the worst, and eventual rotting of their teeth and gum disease. And a liquid diet is not a solution to avoid the vomiting from over-filling the pouch with solid food. All that does is allow one to ingest more calories than one otherwise would because the liquid will pass through that tiny opening into the larger part of the stomach very easily – it doesn’t even stay in the pouch unless you drink it quickly (and even then, it drains out soon enough that you’re hungry again before you’re due for your next meal).
      Anyone who thinks any kind of WLS is a safe, easy, quick way to get and stay thin is sadly mistaken and will be so disillusioned when they find out it isn’t the magical “cure” they were sold. The really sad thing is that they will be blamed for it not working, because it’s touted as a “tool” that has to be used “properly” in order for it to work, which puts all the blame for it not working squarely on the patient and not on the surgeon, who knows that it’s just another form of dieting that isn’t going to work, in the long run, for the majority of people (and has horrible complications to boot). And a lot of patients internalize that blame and accept the failure as their fault.
      I really hope your friends have success with their banding, but I’m not counting on it – I’ve seen too many people that have had to have their bands removed or have gained the weight back in spite of still having the band and still being on a starvation diet.

  4. Mulberry permalink
    December 25, 2010 7:58 pm

    Leaving aside the health consequences for the moment, could one reason for the higher divorce rate be the changed power balance of the relationship? The person who has become newly slender feels they could “do a lot better” in the marriage department and will divorce a spouse who was “good enough” for them as a fat person. Or perhaps the spouse feels threatened by the other person’s weight loss and acts in a way that turns out to drive the spouse away.
    I doubt that the possibility of divorce would scare most people away from the surgery, since they would feel they had some control over that outcome.

    • Lisa Wordyass permalink
      December 26, 2010 8:29 am

      I wrote something yesterday and it never posted, I will try again today. As someone who has a toe still left in wls world (I as an anti-wls armchair advocate ended up with social network contacts aka wls advocates friends on Facebook) plus with my own friends, this happens a lot. Unless a relationship is extremely strong, and the sole purpose for the surgery is for “health” reasons, which really only like 2% of the population who elects to have wls is ever truly benefitted from it, most relationships will fall apart somehow. Only a few are able to survive.
      Ironically, the relationships that are doomed from the start are relationships where one partner finds their partner no longer attractive due to weight gain. It’s usually women who get hit with this, after weight gain from having a baby, eating disorder issues etc. The thing is that usually the partner who finds their partner unattractive due to weight gain, isn’t any happier once that partner loses weight. Even if the partner who had wls, is trying to make the relationship work, the other partner, either finds fault with that partner for something else, or cannot handle the attention the partner who has lost weight is getting.
      I’ve had most of the bad things that could happen in the wls world. My surgery never broke up a relationship, but I’ve only had a few relationships that didn’t last long in my whole entire life. What I do know as someone who was eating disordered and of weight, my whole life, had wls when bulemia only let me not gain weight but wasn’t “effective” enough for me to get thin, it changed most of my relationships for the worse. Most people have you pegged in a certain role, when you change that role, such as I was the fat funny eating buddy, once I got thin, even though I didn’t brag about it, people didn’t like that I changed. I got thinner then most 3 years after surgery when I discovered I actually liked to work out, my finding exercise at that point was for a distraction, not to lose anymore weight but I did. I still ate though and I wasn’t a weight loss surgery advocate ever in my whole entire weight loss surgery journey. I did unfortunately inspire some people close to me to have the surgery based upon my success, lucky for them, they did not end up with the complications I did.
      It’s up to Shannon, I am ready to blog about my experiences, if there is an interest on here. I do have a blog I keep at Obesity Help, which is the main website about everything gastric bypass. It’s amazing though, for as anti-wls as my blog is, I can’t believe it hasn’t been taken down yet. For those of you who secretly still wonder whether or not you should have the surgery and are afraid to talk about it, or for those of you who have friends who are having surgery and you are scared for them, I like Mariellen/Vesta, am a decent resource to have, and my story is really important to hear, and unfortunately while I have a crazy set of complications, a lot of people who are as far out as me, if not further, like Vesta, have had their lives negatively impacted if not destroyed for a multitude of reasons, by having wls.

      • Mulberry permalink
        December 26, 2010 4:48 pm

        There is so much hype and advertising for weight-loss surgery these days. I feel that more people need to hear your story and Vesta’s and others like them to at least try to get them thinking, or be more aware of what they are in for.
        It’s not only fat people who are swayed by the hype. I’m not just referring to those who try to convince their spouses to endure such a drastic procedure. I mean those people who resent fat people getting wls because it’s the “easy way out” and fat people should suffer and work hard for the privilege of being thin.
        Many people who’ve had wls don’t want to admit that they’ve been had, that they’re having more health problems than before, that their newfound slenderness comes with a bigger price tag than they’d thought. You and Vesta are brave to speak out.

  5. vesta44 permalink
    December 27, 2010 1:13 pm

    My soon-to-be ex-daughter-in-law is thinking about getting the LapBand. I’ve told her it’s a big mistake, mainly because she has MS and lupus and the weight she has gained is from the steroids she’s on. I told her that as long as she’s on the steroids, even starvation is not going to make her weight drop back to what it was before she started taking them, but she won’t listen to me. Personally, I think if a surgeon does the LapBand on her, with the medical problems she already has, he should have his license to practice medicine pulled.
    She knows the problems I’ve had with my WLS, she knows the problems she’s had with all the surgeries she’s had in the past (she had a sinus surgery and was blinded in one eye from it), and she still thinks that a LapBand is the answer to her weight gain. There are some people you just can’t reason with, even when it comes to their health and their life. I’ve had to distance myself from her because of that – I won’t be a cheerleader for her WLS, nor will I be there to tell her “I told you so” if/when she has complications (and I’m sorry if I sound like a cold-hearted bitch, but I’m not going to be there to support her if/when she has those complications, because I did tell her it would happen and she ignored me, so she’s going to have to deal with it and hope her family is there for her).

    • Kate permalink
      December 28, 2010 11:03 pm

      I thought auto-immune diseases precluded someone from lap-band, but that might just be the story I tell my parents to make them shut up about it.

      I agree that any doc who’d perform the surgery should have his license removed, but that won’t happen.

      I totally respect your decision to distance yourself from her.

  6. December 29, 2010 10:28 am

    Like William said, there is research out there pointing to the link you mentioned. Here’s an article on it: http://www.seattlepi.com/national/180580_bypass03.html

    I’m not surprised at this, though, as people’s self-worth is so tied to their size. So, someone who feels miserable because they’re fat (because that’s what they’re told they should feel) may not realize they are also miserable with their partner and may blame it all on themselves. Then they lose the weight and their self-esteem improves (albeit on shaky ground) and they see the other misery in their lives (they’re partner) and their confidence gives them wings.

    The problem isn’t the weight. The problem is that so much of a person’s self-esteem depends upon superficial things that any improvement (as temporary as it may be) can change your outlook immensely. It’s better to be confident in who you are and make those changes by carefully assessing your relationship as it is (rather than how you imagine it to be), rather than use WLS as an excuse to do what you may have already wanted to do.

    Interesting piece, thanks Mariellen.

    Peace,
    Shannon

  7. Lisa Wordyass permalink
    December 29, 2010 3:05 pm

    The do the sleeve now, and the band under the pretense it’s not malabsorbtive like a roux-en-y. That’s not true though, enough people now have had complications with the lap band (I’m having trouble researching sleeve complications, I know they are out there though, and it’s not reversible as like 85% of the stomach is removed,not that reversals are guaranteed to work, mine hasn’t so far) that even though the intestinal tract isn’t bypassed, all the vomiting causes malabsorbtion of nutrients and vitamins.All wls have the capacity to be malabsorbtive for that reason.I don’t think any wls is a good idea for anyone, I understand why though you are horrified, Mariellen about her having wls with MS. It may short term allow her to lose weight, but it wont be good long term for weight loss and its going to make her MS worse. I know a dozen people now who have MS as a direct result of their WLS. I understand why you have to disengage in this. I am lucky that I am not faced with this with anyone who is close to me having the surgery. As an “armchair” anti-wls advocate on the internet, I tell people my complications, and those of others I know personally friends and acquaintances and we are all pretty far out from our wls, all of us have some type of complication, moderate to major, some of my friends have had transfer addictions, and most of us have gained at least some if not all our weight back. Most people cannot comprehend how I can be so nutritionally deficient, have uncontrollable severe chronic pain and fatigue but not be thin, as just because I don’t malabsorb calories doesn’t mean I don’t absorb anything else, because I don’t. If someone still elects to have surgery, I will wish them well, but it’s hard not to tell them in a snarky tone, come and see me in about 9 years and see how you feel about wls, then. Honestly at the rate I am going I don’t think I will be here in 9 years, and I am not saying that to be melodramatic or to gain sympathy.

  8. Carly permalink
    July 5, 2012 2:48 pm

    My weight loss surgery program required group counseling and the divorce rate is the first thing that was mentioned. They did not sugar coat it. A lot of obese people settle for spouses that are abusive, enablers, or not supportive. They say that if your marriage is shaky before surgery, its likely to be worse after. Additionally, people change when they lose weight. They become more active, out-going, and attractive. Its a head trip to be flirted with after being ignored or invisible for so long. I had the surgery a year ago and the things that were wrong with my marriage are amplified now that I’m almost 130lbs lighter. I have a different outlook on life and what I want out of it and my husband wants everything to stay the same. Unfortunately, even without surgery, people change. If the marriage can be saved it has to take dedication from both parties. I find that he’s not willing so I’m not sure where I will end up. I have come too far to go backwards though, so that is not an option. Weight loss surgery can make marriages stronger though. I’ve seen it happen.

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  1. WLS blues « Fierce, Freethinking Fatties

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