Bariatric surgery, or weight loss surgery, usually involves a reduction in the size of the stomach with an implanted medical device (gastric banding) or by removing a portion of the stomach. Other procedures re-sect and re-route the small intestines to a small stomach pouch (gastric bypass).
There are a number of complications associated with these surgeries, including a one percent chance of death— one out of every one hundred people will die as a result of surgery. Another 20% will require additional surgery to fix complications while 30% ultimately develop nutritional deficiencies such as anemia or osteoporosis. In the end, 25% of bariatric surgery patients fail to reach target weight goals, or are unable to maintain the strict diet necessary for weight loss.
Weight loss drugs fall into one of three categories: appetite suppressants; drugs that increase the body’s metabolism; or medications meant to block the body’s ability to absorb specific nutrients in food. Anti-obesity medications are known for having severe side effects which are generally related to the individual medication’s mechanism of action. For example, stimulants can cause glaucoma, high blood pressure, insomnia, and agitation. Drugs that block the absorption of dietary fats often lead to stomach pain and frequent and oily bowel movements.
Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture
Chinese medicine is based on the idea that an energy force known as Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) runs throughout the body on meridians, or channels. Qi consists of all the essential activities to life, including the spiritual, emotional, and physical aspects of existence. If the flow of Qi is unbalanced or insufficient, the symptoms of illness can occur.
It is important to understand the concept of Yin and Yang in a discussion of acupuncture treatment. Qi is composed of Yin and Yang, which are opposite forces that must be balanced in order for the body to work harmoniously. Yin is related to female attributes and is thought of as dark, cold, or moist, while Yang is masculine and associated with light, active, warm, and dry characteristics.
Obesity is thought to be related to an excess of Yin (excessive dampness or phlegm), which leads to imbalance in the Yin/Yang relationship and a deficiency in Qi. Acupuncture restores the balance of Qi in the body.