Naomi’s Story

I’ve been big all my life and when I was 19 I got pressured by my family to get a lapband (a laparoscopic gastric band), which I eventually had removed at age 30 because it never helped with weight loss and made my life miserable.

Recently my family started pressuring me again to get gastric bypass surgery as I have two sisters who have both lost a lot of weight following theirs. I booked the surgery and cancelled it twice in 3 years, something in my heart was telling me not to do it.

I finally caved and give in to the pressure and made the appointment.
Here in Australia most bariatric surgeries are performed by private doctors as the requirements and waitlist for the public system makes it almost impossible.

Photo by Piron Guillaume

The surgeon I choose told me I was a an extremely big person (153kg or 337lb) and that if I didn’t get this surgery I was going to die. He even asked me what I did for work and when I said insurance, he said “oh you know you can’t get life insurance with your weight”. I felt like he was trying to scare me in to getting the surgery done, and unfortunately it worked because I booked it in soon after.

Looking back, it is very clear to me now that his only motivation was money. My private health insurance paid him thousands of dollars and I paid him an extra seven thousand out of my own pocket on top.

On the day of surgery, I was told that it would take about two hours and I should be going home in two days. My surgery actually took 6 hours, and I found out later that the surgeon removed my omentum which I had never consented to. After a few days in the hospital, it was clear he had messed up and that my stomach had a hole in it (a perforation).

I honestly didn’t realise how dangerous this type of surgery was, as he made it seems like it was something that could be fixed in a jiffy. It wasn’t until he transferred me to a public hospital under false pretenses that I was told that I could die from these complications.

Photo by JAFAR AHMED

I spent two months in the hospital on very high doses of antibiotics and a nasal gastric tube. I had surgery in September and I wasn’t able to eat or drink till December. I am still experiencing side effects everyday and I’m covered in scars from all the procedures I had done while in the hospital.

I never heard from the surgeon that operated on me again.

I want people to understand that these doctors tell you everything you want to hear in order to make a buck they don’t care about your health at all. I personally wouldn’t recommend bariatric surgery to anyone as the risks aren’t worth it. I was in a ward where people died or had to get their whole stomach removed due to complications.

We only hear the positives about weight loss surgery, but trust me a lot can and does go wrong.

Naomi, Australia

Naomi’s story is becoming increasingly more common. Bariatric surgery is being recommended to patients more and more as a safe and effective form of “weight loss treatment”. All surgery comes with a number of risks that the surgeon is obliged to discuss with you prior to gaining consent. These will include haemorrhage (bleeding), perforation and death.

If you are considering weight loss surgery, please ensure that you have been fully counselled about the risks and benefits before signing up to anything and remember that there are several safer alternative methods to help improve your health.