Debt, pain and more surgery: The true cost of gastric band procedure hyped as weight-loss fix – Health

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‘We suspect that nearly all the bands that are placed, at some point, will need to be removed for one reason or another.’
– Dr. David Urbach, chief of surgery at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto

Marketplace caught up with Yau at his office late last year to ask if he has anything to say to his patients who believe he failed them. His response: “I’m sorry they feel that way.” He refused to answer any more questions.

On its website, the Slimband clinic says it’s no longer accepting new patients but is providing support to existing ones.

Since Litt stopped paying her outstanding bill, she’s been bombarded with registered letters and emails from Credit Medical threatening her credit rating.

Credit Medical and Slimband director Michael Scot-Smith is a former developer who was convicted of real estate fraud and sentenced in 1993 to two years in jail. In 2000, he was convicted of obtaining bank loans under false pretenses. He didn‘t respond to Marketplace’s requests for comment.

Litt has a warning for others considering weight loss surgery: Don’t do it through a private clinic. Go through the public system, if you can.

Bariatric surgery in public system not cosmetic

Dr. David Urbach, chief of surgery at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto, performs gastric bypass surgeries, which he considers to be the gold standard of bariatric operations.

“We really apply surgery not for cosmetic purposes, but for health purposes,” he said. “And we offer surgery to people whose life expectancy would be shortened by their obesity.”

MarketplaceUrbach

Dr. David Urbach says he regularly removes gastric bands at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. (Michael Wong/Women’s College Hospital)

He says he removes one to two gastric bands every month.

“We suspect that nearly all the bands that are placed, at some point, will need to be removed for one reason or another,” he said.

The public system has strict criteria for weight loss surgery, which include a very high body mass index along with other pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or sleep apnea. Private clinics are not as selective, Urbach says, which can lead to all kinds of problems.

“When problems do arise, they’re typically not able to deal with those complications, especially if they’re severe or require hospitalization,” he said.

For people who are significantly obese, Urbach suggests getting a referral through a family doctor to a publicly funded obesity surgery program. And for those who don’t meet the qualifications, he says the good news is they’re actually otherwise healthy and should talk to their family doctor about a balanced approach to managing both their weight and overall health.

“There’s no rule that everybody has to be a certain body weight.

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