February 8, 2012

Lap-Band Surgery Gets Another Black Eye

When the American Diabetes Association endorses something, look out. By that, I mean the less than honorable surgeons will find a way to fatten their wallets. From the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the California Department of Insurance (CDI), plus other agencies are continuing their investigations into the practices of gastric banding in Southern California.

In December, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the marketing firm called 1-800-Get-Thin and 8 affiliated surgery centers that the ads are misleading because they fail to spell out the risks of the surgery. The agency ordered the businesses to change the ads immediately.” The FDA has this right, and the risks are not to be taken lightly. See my blog here for links to many of the risks.

What is frightening are the deaths, which has resulted from the surgery since 2009. Supposedly, there have been at least five deaths to patients after having the gastric banding operation. The 1-800-Get-Thin marketing firm and the surgery centers have been the subject of two wrongful-death suits and a whistleblower suit from ex-employees and patients. The last suit alleges the cover-up of a patient death in addition to other problems.

In addition to the CDI investigation, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is investigating the ad campaign. They are seeking legislation to regulate bariatric surgery centers. Then we know when something like this hits the news, you can be assured members of Congress will want to hold hearings.

The whistleblower suit goes on to show who the real owners are and that they have been disciplined by the California Medical Board in 2008. It goes on to expose the shell companies that were designed to conceal the brothers' ownership.

At least this surgery may be rid of a couple of bad apples that is doing damage to patients and giving gastric-banding a black eye. The important aspect of this is the adverse publicity may make patients think twice and be sure they understand all the risks of this type or surgery.

Read the three articles that cover much of the same areas – article 1, article 2 and article 3. Be sure you know the risks before you submit to this surgery and do your due diligence in investigating the surgeon and surgery center doing the procedure. Gastric-banding or lap-band surgery is not for everyone.

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