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Letters: The fine print of obesity surgery

April 28, 2013

Re "What we should learn from the 1-800-GET-THIN saga," Column, April 21

Readers should not be left with the impression that patients who underwent weight-loss surgery after seeing an advertisement on a billboard were unaware of the risks.

Those billboard advertisements stated that they accepted most PPO insurance. All PPOs have criteria for approving weight loss. At a minimum, they include:

- A body mass index greater than 40, or a BMI of 35 in conjunction with severe co-morbidities.

- Documentation of unsuccessful attempts at weight loss.

- A physician-supervised nutrition and exercise program or a surgical preparatory regimen.

- A psychological evaluation.

The process takes months and requires much interaction between the patient and the provider. In addition, surgery consent forms spell out in detail the potential risks and side effects that may occur.

Whether or not the doctors who performed the surgeries advertised on the billboards were highly rated is another matter.

Lisa Gladstone

Rancho Palos Verdes

The writer is a manager at Coastal Center for Obesity, which performs weight-loss surgeries.

Considering that perforation of the aorta is a known complication of Lap-Band surgery, I question whether such a risky operation should even be performed in an outpatient setting. At a regular hospital, this serious complication would be better cared for. The surgeons and anesthesiologists would be better screened to do this operation and certainly of higher caliber than what exist at some outpatient surgery centers.

Harry Shragg, MD



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